Auburn Defense Bracing For Hog Attack

Auburn freshman safety Erique Florence talks about the defensive performance against South Carolina and about facing the explosive Arkansas attack.

Auburn, Ala.—Saturday night Auburn's young defense will face yet another stiff challenge when they tee it up against the Arkansas Razorbacks in a battle of Top 15 teams in Fayetteville. It's not just the points and yards that Bobby Petrino's bunch puts up that will be a test for the Tigers, but how they do it as well. Not afraid to throw the ball 40 or even 50 times if that's what it takes to get a win, freshman safety Erique Florence said it's something very different for the defense to prepare for.

"We really haven't had a team that just wanted to just throw the ball as much as Arkansas is going to throw it at us," Florence said. "It's kind of different preparing for Arkansas than any other team. With South Carolina, it was more you stop the run you've got them in your hands.

"But now with Arkansas, if you stop the pass, you've got to defend the run. It's totally different going from one week where you're concentrating on the run, then going totally opposite the next week. It's going to be a bit of a challenge, but we're going to get it done."

Led by quarterback Tyler Wilson, Arkansas enters the game averaging 39.4 points and 471.8 yards per game. Of those yards 351.8 of them come through the air where the Razorbacks have plenty of weapons. Leading the pack is Jarius Wright. He is leading the league with 28 catches for 478 yards and also has five touchdowns. Throw in Joe Adams with 21 catches for 235 yards and Cobi Hamilton's 17 catches for 318 yards and you have a tough group for the Tigers to deal with.

"They've got some playmakers at receivers," Florence said. "We've obviously seen that on film today and been talking about it. We're going to have to scheme it up and bring what we got to the table on Saturday."

Playing behind senior Neiko Thorpe, Florence has been used in a reserve role this season for the Tigers. That could mean more snaps this weekend as the Razorbacks like to throw it early and often, meaning more substitutions on defense.

Last weekend it was a much different challenge on defense for Auburn as South Carolina entered with a top rushing attack led by Marcus Lattimore. Once the Tigers were able to contain him the defensive line did a good job of getting pressure on quarterback Stephen Garcia as well to help out the secondary. Florence said he feels like it was a huge step forward for the defense and it all started with the front four.

"That was key," Florence said. "A defensive back's best friend is a defensive lineman. We knew going into the game that we were going to have to rattle Garcia. The guys up front did a pretty good job getting after him and Marcus Lattimore at the line of scrimmage and playing on the other side of the ball throughout the whole game.

"It definitely made it better for us because at the time when we might have thought the play was over, or kind of cheated on a route or something, they came in pretty big. They stopped him when he could have been scrambling out of the pocket or making something happen – that's when he made most of his plays, outside the pocket. I want to congratulate our D-line. They did a real good job stopping the run and the pass."

Confidence is always a big thing for any team in any sport, but in the game of football it's immeasurable for a young team. That's what last week's win over South Carolina did for Auburn's defense and that could be big heading back on the road this Saturday to face the Hogs. Florence said the goal this week is once again to be physical and let the chips fall where they may.

"Defense is something that's going to last," Florence said. "That type of defense is the way defense should be played. I remember before, I was saying how we had to be physical, we had to stop the run, we had to hit them in the mouth. Alshon and Lattimore both are to physical guys. I'm pretty sure everybody could see that with the first touchdown catch Alshon had, that he was pretty physical. We knew we were going to have to hit.

"We knew we were going to have to have assignment football to win the game on the road. We took all that to the game with us. We executed well on defense, we talked and we brought the hat. That's something we're going to do throughout the year. October, a lot of people don't think we can do anything in the month of October and we started off 1-0. We're going to try to keep it up and finish it."

Kickoff for Saturday night's ESPN contest is scheduled for 6 p.m.


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