Arkansas Prepares For Young Quarterback

FAYETTEVILLE -- For only the second time this season, Arkansas won't be facing an experienced senior quarterback on Saturday night in its game against No. 21 Auburn.

Auburn's starter, sophomore Brandon Cox, will be the first non-senior quarterback since Missouri State's Scott Carroll, also a sophomore, to start against the Razorbacks.

"He looks pretty good," said Razorbacks defensive coordinator Reggie Herring. "The thing you see on film is you see incredible potential.

"You tell on film by looking at him, he's going to be an exceptional player. As each game goes on, you can see him grow in confidence, grow in poise."

Cox is ranked third in the Southeastern Conference in passing (240 yards per game) and fourth in the league in passing efficiency -- he's 69 of 110 for 960 yards and 6 touchdowns -- with a 62.7 completion percentage.

"He's just getting better," Herring said. "It's going to be a tremendous challenge for us."

Auburn ((4-1 overall, 2-0 in the SEC) has played all its games at home.

Will Cox feel more pressure this time around?

"You'd like to think in theory, you'd like to think that," Herring said. "It's the first road game for him and his football team. Hopefully, it'll be a hostile crowd and hopefully we can play off of that.

"If our kids come out smoking early in the game and play off that crowd, then that'll give us a chance.

What can Cox expect?

"We have multiple capabilities," Herring said. "We can back off ... we can fire guys or we can cover. We have multiple capabilities to do what the situation permits us to do.

"If we pressure him early and it looks like it's rough on him, then that's what we'll continue to do. We play as the game goes. Obviously, with him being a young quarterback and it being his first road game, we'd like to get to him early. Try to unnerve him a bit..

"That's easier said than done."

Blessed Event
Arkansas recievers/special teams coach James Shibest and his wife, Dianna, had their second child at 11:02 a.m. Monday in Washington Regional.

The Sibests had a girl, Jordyn Grace Shibest, who weighed 8 pounds, 15 ounces.

They have one son, James John Shibest III, a 3-year-old.

Back In Action
Arkansas senior center Kyle Roper and Razorbacks wideout Cedric Washington returned to the practice field on Tuesday.

Roper has been nursing a knee injury, while Washington has been plagued with a hamstring pull.

"It was good to see them out there," said Arkansas coach Houston Nutt. "They did good, they did good. Roper practiced today. He didn't get all the snaps, but he got a lot of 'em."

Will they play Saturday?

"Uh, right now, it looks good, looks good" Nutt said. "Let's wait a little bit. We'll just wait and see.

"We're still not sure."

Both missed last Saturday night's 44-15 win against Louisiana-Monroe in War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.

"It was good to have him (Washington) back, he looked good today," said Hogs quarterback Robert Johnson. "He looked good going up and down the field. He looked real good going deep a couple of times.

"I hope he'll play Saturday."

Hogs tight end Wes Murphy hobbled off the field early Tuesday with an injury to the groin.

"Yeah, he didn't come back today, that's disappointing" Nutt said. "He got hurt in a PAT/field (drill), took a knee to the groin. We took him for an X-ray. Hope it's not too bad, but he missed today's practice."

Good Effort
Nutt was optimistiic following Tuesday's two-hour workout.

"We had a good practice today," Nutt said. "Tuesday is a tough work day. We came out here and put in a lot of preparation time. We went through everything they (Auburn) do as a football team.

"They are a very good football team that has been off for a week, so we had a lot to do today. We have to have another good day of practice tomorrow.

"Tuesday and Wednesdays are work days."

High Praise
Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville has raved about senior middle linebacker Travis Williams this season.

Williams, a 6-1, 212 pounder, has become the Tigers' vocal leader. He's third on the team in tackles with 24. He's also forced 2 fumbles, had 1 sack and 1 pass interception.

After the 48-7 win against South Carolina on Oct. 1, Williams was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week.

"Travis Williams is the quarterback of our defense, makes all the calls for us," Tuberville said. "He really plays with a lot of common sense. As the middle linebacker he gets guys set up and organized on defense. He knows the gameplan.

"He's a guy who spends extra time looking at game film getting himself mentally prepared. I think the first couple of games he struggled a little bit because he was trying to do everybody's job.

"I think he's turned the corner as far as doing his job and letting the others do their jobs.

"He's a big part of our team."

A Colorful Practice
Arkansas had several out-of-place jerseys floating around the practice field on Tuesday. Several players wore green jerseys -- not that unusual -- and there were sprinkles of black and Auburn blue, of course, those being used to emulate Tigers football players.

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