Hogs Must Stop Irons' Running

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas defensive coordinator Reggie Herring left little doubt Wednesday about what his unit's focus would be against Auburn on Saturday.

"We've got to pick our poison," Herring said. "The one that stings the most is the running game. They know it, we know it and God bless us all. We've got to gang-tackle (Kenny Irons, senior running back). He runs with great spirit and purpose; he is a nasty runner."

Last season, Auburn turned a 10-6 halftime deficit into a 34-17 win over Arkansas by pounding the Hogs with a physical running game.

"We had one more man in the box and couldn't stop them," Herring said. "They were blocking extra guys. Their offensive line coach (Hugh Nall) is old-fashioned and they get after you. They have the best guards in the country. It will be a challenge for Ernest Mitchell and Keith Jackson, our tackles."

Herring said there might be only five teams in the country that could defend against Auburn with seven men in the box.

"It's going to take eight for us," he said. "Last year we needed a ninth guy. They were just physically beating us, and that's a helpless feeling. I called everything I could."

Herring acknowledged that this year's Auburn quarterback, junior Brandon Cox, can burn a defense that is overly run-oriented.

"Yes, they have a passing game," Herring said. "Cox will hit a pass when you least expect it. That could be the kiss of death. But if they pass for 800 yards, rush for 60 and we win, I'll be happy."

Herring said Arkansas would have to play as well as it can to beat Auburn.

"But then again, they've got to play pretty good, too," he said.

He said Irons typically turns a four-yard gain into a seven-yarder, and a 10-yard gain into a 15-yarder.

"He bled us to death last year," Herring said.

Herring said Hogs linebacker Matt Hewitt, who was originally a walk-on at Alfred State (N.Y.) Community College, continues to get better each day, "because it's important to him. The will to get better is 95 percent of football."

Herring added, "If we can create turnovers, hopefully that will bust open a close game. Who knows what will happen?"

Arkansas' defense has caused just one turnover in four games, while the offense has averaged just 24 minutes of possession time.

"Right now we're terrible in all the stats," Herring said. "But we're 3-1. We care about the ‘W.' Stats are a pride thing."

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