First Down: Auburn Run Game Rolling

Correction:Auburn is averaging 253.8 rushing yards a game and 512.8 total yards a game. Running back Ben Tate is averaging 108 rushing yards a game, which ranks second in the Southeastern Conference. Running back Onterio McCalebb is averaging 83.2 yards a game, which ranks fifth in the SEC. The Razorback Report in Thursday's editions was wrong.

Arkansas' pass defense has been picked on this season, giving up big chunks of yards in three games against Georgia, Alabama and Texas A&M.

But the passing attack isn't coach Bobby Petrino's concern Saturday. It's Auburn's run game, which is operating at full throttle under first-year offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn.

Auburn is averaging 253.8 rushing yards a game and 512.8 total yards a game. Running back Ben Tate is averaging 108 rushing yards a game, which ranks second in the Southeastern Conference. Running back Onterio McCalebb is averaging 83.2 yards a game, which ranks fifth in the SEC.

"It's going to be hard. They do a lot of real good things running the ball," Petrino said. "We have to be great with our gap control, great with our secondary, with our eyes, knowing whether it's run or pass so we can get down to the run when it is."

Spread offenses are typically classified as pass heavy, but Auburn's run game has been the key to a no-huddle attack averaging 526.3 yards a game.

Tate and McCalebb are running behind an experienced offensive line led by former Rogers High star Lee Ziemba. Safety Matt Harris said the Hogs aren't surprised by the ground game's success though, after facing Malzahn's offense at Tulsa.

"We know they're going to run the ball just as much as they pass it," Harris said. "The run game is going to establish their passing game."



Two-Minute Drill

• Apparently, former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville isn't high on the Hogs' defense.

Tuberville told WJOX, a radio station in Birmingham, Ala., he watched Arkansas beat Texas A&M as a guest in Dallas owner Jerry Jones' luxury box. He was impressed with Cowboys Stadium, but not the Razorbacks. Tuberville said they're "not real good."

So Tuberville, who now works as an analyst on ESPN, told the radio show he believes the Tigers will beat the Razorbacks pretty handily on Saturday.

"I think they win by three touchdowns," Tuberville said on the radio show. "Arkansas can't stop a cold."

• Defensive coordinator Willy Robinson isn't sure if cornerback Darius Winston will be ready to play because of his ankle injury. But Robinson said he has been impressed by the freshman's progress.

"I admire the way he's pushing through the way he has," Robinson said. "He continues to amaze me with the things that he does. His personality continues to get stronger and stronger as does his confidence."

• The 1959 Arkansas football team will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its Southwest Conference co-championship this weekend. The team was the first to win a championship under Frank Broyles.



Inside Scoop: Early Risers

With kickoff set for 11 a.m. on Saturday, both teams will play earlier than they have all season. It also means pregrame schedules will be altered.

Petrino said Arkansas will begin today by making this afternoon's practice shorter than usual.

"We'll get them off the field a little quicker," he said. "We try to get their legs back. We'll do a little more ice tubs and things like that after practice."

Petrino said Arkansas also will make sure players are out of meetings earlier Friday night and in bed. Senior defensive tackle Malcolm Sheppard said the team's wake-up call for Saturday has been set for 6 a.m.

Petrino said he has always enjoyed early games, while Sheppard prefers night games because there's "more magic to it." But Sheppard agreed with Petrino in one regard. He said the early kickoff gives Arkansas a chance to get going instead of waiting around for game time in the team hotel all day.

"You build up nervousness when you have to sit around and watch everybody else play," Sheppard said. "We'll be the first team to play Saturday. It's going to be great. Go out there and set the tempo."

Hawgs Daily Top Stories