D-Ends Confident After Big Performance

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas defensive end Jake Bequette knows how well he played against Texas A&M Saturday.

In fact, the redshirt freshman knows how well all of the Razorbacks' defensive ends played, harassing and disrupting the Aggies with a ferocious pass rush in the 49-17 win in Cowboys Stadium.

But Bequette said Monday he hopes the non-stop pressure Arkansas applied off the edge was merely a first step for bigger things.

"I think that was our best game," Bequette said. "I think that was kind of the first step in our goal of really putting that kind of pressure on the quarterback every game. It's a good habit to get into."

Bequette and the Razorbacks can't wait for their next chance to get after the quarterback when Arkansas (2-2, 0-2 in Southeastern Conference) plays No. 17 Auburn (5-0, 2-0) on Saturday.

They gained much-needed confidence by running by and powering past Texas A&M's tackles. It came after being challenged by Arkansas' coaches after accounting for just one sack to start the season.

But they doubled their production against the Aggies.

"I thought our whole defensive front played extraordinarily well," defensive coordinator Willy Robinson said. "You're probably going to have to go back and look back on these three games this kid played, I don't think anybody harassed this guy like we did (Saturday)."

Said Bequette: "We were just kind of teeing off and rushing. Coach Robinson challenged us, he said, ‘Defensive ends, we're just going to let you have a field day,' and we did."

Even when they couldn't get Texas A&M's elusive quarterback, Jerrod Johnson, on the ground, the pressure affected the Aggies. Johnson threw the ball away several times and rushed other throws because of Bequette, Adrian Davis, Tenarius Wright and Damario Ambrose.

"We put a lot of pressure on their quarterback," Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino said. "We really hit him. I think maybe the difference in the game was how many times we hit their quarterback."

Wright — who was named the SEC's defensive lineman of the week — turned in the most important collision when he hit Johnson in the backfield to force a fumble in the second quarter. Linebacker Jerry Franklin returned it 85 yards for a touchdown and a 21-10 lead.

Wright also ended the game with a bang, getting a blind-side sack on Johnson to force a fumble in the fourth quarter. Wright finished with one sack and two forced fumbles, but Petrino said the entire group teamed up to turn in its best performance.

"They did a nice job on their get-offs and understanding what their game plan was and adjusting," Petrino said. "They played well. I thought all four defensive ends played well. Rushing the passer, Bequette and Tenarius Wright, Adrian Davis did a great job rushing the passer and Damario Ambrose did a real nice job against the run."

The goal now is to put together another dominant day.

But the next challenge won't be easy. Auburn's offensive line has much more talent, anchored at tackle by former Rogers High star Lee Ziemba. The line has helped quarterback Chris Todd calmly operate an offense averaging 41.4 points and 512.8 yards a game.

"They've got very good offensive linemen," Bequette said. "They run a very good offense. They're 5-0, they're ranked and they've got a lot of confidence. We're going to have to have a great game plan."

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