Mustain Does What He Needs To Do

AUBURN, Ala. — Arkansas quarterbacks Mitch Mustain had never played in an environment quite like this.

With nearly 90,000 fans expected in a hostile atmosphere like Jordan-Hare Stadium, Razorbacks coach Houston Nutt took the team inside the Walker Pavilion during practice and piped in loud noise to simulate the raucous environment in Auburn.

"You can't ever explain it to him until he gets there," Nutt said. "He did a great job for the most part."

The noise did force the Razorbacks to go to a "center snap" early, where the center calls out the cadence while the offense is in shotgun.

Mustain performed admirably, passing for just 87 yards but missing on just three passes. Almost all of Mustain's pass yardage came in the first quarter (82).

Against Alabama two weeks ago, Mustain struggled for much of the game and admitted as much afterward.

Saturday, though, Mustain wasn't complaining after throwing no interceptions and protecting the ball.

"I think pregame we kind of figured out how loud it was going to be," Mustain said. "The more we kept putting the hammer down on them and kept on going and scoring, the quieter they got."

Mustain is now 4-0 as a starter.

"That's his first big road test and this is one of the toughest places in America to play," said offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn. "I felt like he did what he had to do."

Malzahn On Big Stage

Saturday's game was not only a coming-out party for the Razorbacks team as a whole, but for Malzahn.

The Razorbacks were on CBS for the second consecutive game, but the offense looked much more efficient against Auburn than it had when Arkansas hosted Alabama.

Prior to the season, some whispered that a "high school" coach couldn't succeed immediately as an offensive coordinator in the SEC. Mustain defended his former Springdale High coach and now offensive coordinator after the win.

"He's an offensive coordinator now in the SEC," Mustain said. "No matter what he's done in the past, there's a lot of guys out here that have been high school coaches in the past. It doesn't matter. He's transitioned up here, he's done a great job doing it and I think he's going to continue it."

Mitchell Surprises

When defensive tackle Marcus Harrison went down with a knee injury following the win at Vanderbilt, the Razorbacks had to go with unproven Ernest Mitchell at that spot.

Defensive coordinator Reggie Herring was admittedly skeptical about just how much production Mitchell could give.

"He was almost nonexistent before that," Herring said. "He hadn't shown us anything that would make you think he could be playing in the SEC at a high level."

After Mitchell delivered a pair of tackles for loss — including a sack — in Saturday's win, Herring marveled at the sophomore's progress in the last three weeks.

"I told him (Friday) night that we couldn't be more proud of him and what he's done for this team, holding the rope and being accountable," Herring said. "It truly is amazing.

"He's just risen to the occasion and it's part of the magic of this year and what's going on. You're seeing a team develop before your eyes."

Vinnett, Others Return

Several Razorbacks, who had missed significant time of late, returned to game action against Auburn.

Darius Vinnett, who had missed the season after having surgery for chronic tendonitis in his knee prior to the season, saw his first action of the season. Vinnett briefly left the game, limping off the field, but later returned.

After the win, Vinnett jumped up on a wall near the Arkansas section and started dancing, showing little effects of the injury.

"He got knocked out and came back on his own," Herring said. "We didn't even know he was back. Right now, we were thin coming in this game, we were injured, beat up and everybody stepped up to the plate and that's that depth I've been talking about."

Harrison didn't play much, but was able to spell Mitchell at times.

Peyton Hillis also returned after missing all but the opening play against Alabama, catching two passes for 21 yards.

Streak Alive

Jeremy Davis' 34-yard field goal early in the first quarter gave Arkansas a score in its last 126 games, breaking the previous Razorbacks record.

The last time Arkansas was shut out was Nov. 18, 1995, when LSU beat the Razorbacks 28-0.

The previous record was set from 1973-1983.

After missing an extra point try two weeks ago against Alabama, Davis was solid Saturday, making two field goals and three extra points.

Extra Points

Auburn held a moment of silence for longtime Razorbacks broadcaster Paul Eels before the game. ... Marcus Monk extended his consecutive receptions streak to 27 games. ... Freshman linebacker Wendel Davis recorded the first tackle for loss of his career in the third quarter. ... The 17 points allowed by Auburn in the first half were the most against the Tigers since LSU scored 21 points in the first half on Oct. 25, 2003. ... John Vaughn became Auburn's all-time leading scorer for points scored kicking, passing Damon Duval. Vaughn trails Carnell Williams by 13 points to become Auburn's all-time leading scorer.

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