2010 Opponent Preview: Arkansas

Auburn faces Arkansas at 2:30 Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium on CBS.

When the #7 Auburn Tigers take on the 12th-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks this weekend at Jordan-Hare Stadium, coach Gene Chizik's club will be looking to end what has become a rather disturbing trend against the Hogs in recent years. The Razorbacks have won two in a row in the series and three of the last four against Auburn and just last season won going away to give the Tigers their first loss of the season.

To do that Auburn must continue to play well on offense but the ultimate key comes on defense where coach Ted Roof's group is struggling to slow down the pass at the moment. Allowing over 230 yards per game through the air, the Tigers will face one of the country's top attacks led by 6-7 quarterback Ryan Mallett and perhaps the league's top wide receiver corps.

Passing for 1,748 yards and 13 touchdowns with six interceptions in 2010, Mallett is completing 69.3 percent of his passes and averaging just under 350 yards per game. Halfway through his second year at Arkansas Mallett has already set or tied 34 school or stadium records and is known as a big-play quarterback with 47 completions of 15 or more yards this season.

When he throws the ball Mallett has a strong group of receivers ready to make plays after the catch led by big Greg Childs (6-3, 217, Jr.). With 28 receptions for 363 yards and three touchdowns, he's one of the top players in the SEC at his position. While not a wide receiver, tight end D.J. Williams (6-2, 251, Sr.) is no less dangerous with 22 catches for 259 yards. The biggest deep threat is speedy Joe Adams (5-11, 190, Jr.). He is averaging 19.4 yards per catch with three touchdowns in five games.

Greg Childs

While the Razorbacks are one of the nation's top passing teams, they don't run the ball with much success or very often under Bobby Petrino with just 138 attempts in five games this season for 544 yards and six touchdowns. The leading rusher for Arkansas is sophomore Knile Davis (6-0, 220) with 220 yards and a touchdown while big Broderick Green (6-2, 248, Jr.) has 192 yards on 60 carries and a score.

The most dangerous of the backs is sophomore Ronnie Wingo (6-3, 227) because of his ability both in and out of the backfield. With 14 carries for 84 yards and a touchdown, he is averaging a healthy 9.2 yards per carry. He's also added 15 catches for 166 yards and three touchdowns as well.

Up front Arkansas is massive and talented led by tackles DeMarcus Love (6-5, 315, Sr.) and Ray Dominguez (6-4, 329, Sr.) on the outside. In the middle the Razorbacks aren't experienced with guards Wad Grayson (6-4, 302, Sr.) and Alvin Bailey (6-5, 323, Fr.) and center Travis Swanson (6-5, 305, Fr.). Both freshmen redshirted last season.

Defensively Arkansas is one of the most improved teams in the SEC this season. Allowing 25.1 points and 401 yards per game in 2009, the Razorbacks have cut those numbers drastically in the third year for Petrino and his staff. Giving up only 15 points and 302.4 yards, Arkansas' defensive success begins up front where the defensive line is playing lights out this season.

Ends Jake Bequette (6-5, 271, Jr.) and Damario Ambrose (6-5, 270, Sr.) and tackles Alfred Davis (6-1, 326, So.) and DeQuinta Jones (6-5, 307, So.) combine to make up one of the biggest defensive lines Auburn will see this season. Leading the team with four tackles and adding five tackles for a loss, Bequette has played well this season. Ambrose has added a pair of sacks while back up Tenarius Wright (6-1, 250, So.) has three sacks as well.

Jerico Nelson

At linebacker junior veteran Jerico Nelson (5-10, 214) is third on the team with 30 tackles and is joined by a pair of players having extremely good seasons for the Razorbacks. Leading the team in tackles is junior middle linebacker Jerry Franklin (6-1, 241) with 37 stops in five games. Second on the team with 35 tackles this year but eight coming for a loss is senior Anthony Leon (6-4, 227).

In the secondary cornerback Ramon Broadway (5-9, 191, Sr.) has 27 tackles and six pass break ups this year while Isaac Madison (5-11, 185, Jr.) on the other side has 15 stops. At the safety position senior Rudell Crim (6-0, 209) has 23 tackles and a pair of interceptions while Tramain Thomas (6-0, 198, Jr.) has 23 stops and a pair of picks as well.

It's not just offense and defense where the Razorbacks excel as the kicking game is solid as well. Kicker Zach Hocker won the job from veteran Alex Tejada and has made 5-6 field goals this season with a long of 48 yards. He's a perfect 19-19 on extra points. Punter Dylan Breeding has been even better, averaging 44 yards per kick with seven downed inside the 20-yard line.

This is a game where once again Auburn's offense must establish the running game and win the line of scrimmage. While they're only allowing 134 yards per game on the ground, the Razorbacks gave up 227 on 40 carries to Alabama, the only true power rushing team they've played this season. On the flip side Arkansas ran for 132 yards last weekend against Texas A&M but has just 117 in two SEC games this year. If the Tigers can make Arkansas one-dimensional and run the football themselves it should mean good things for Gene Chizik's club.


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