Physical Hogs A Challenge For Tigers

Coach Tommy Tuberville talks about Arkansas and the offensive weapons for the Hogs.

Auburn, Ala.--The Auburn Tigers (3-2, 2-0) face literally their biggest challenge of the season this weekend when they face the Arkansas Razorbacks (4-0, 2-0) Saturday morning at 11:30 in a game televised by Jefferson Pilot. The key to the game for the Tigers may be how well they slow down the league's top rushing game led by super offensive lineman Shawn Andrews. Coach Tommy Tuberville said this game is going to be a big challenge for the front seven on the defense.

"I think four of the five offensive linemen are seniors," Tuberville said of Arkansas' experience. "They do have the best offensive lineman in the league, maybe in the country, in number 73 Andrews. He's a very physical player and when they need a good run or four or five yards they're going to run behind him."

Andrews helps pave the way for workhorse tailback Cedric Cobbs, who leads the SEC in rushing at 140.5 yards per game this season on 88 carries. He's currently averaging 6.4 yards per attempt and has five touchdowns. For his career he's rushed for 21 touchdowns and over 2,200 yards. Couple his resurgence along with the playmaking ability of quarterback Matt Jones and you have a dangerous Razorback team, but Tuberville said there is more to be worried about than just Cobbs and Jones with this team.

"They've got a complete ball team, it's not just the running back or the quarterback," Tuberville said. "They've got a sound football team with big plays. They have one tight end that's 315 or 320 pounds. He catches the ball and blocks very well. It's not a mystery why they're scoring a lot of points and beating good football teams. They are a good team all over. They don't have too many weaknesses."

Auburn's Karlos Dansby makes a tackle against the Hogs two seasons ago in Fayetteville. His play will be a big key for the Tigers this season in slowing down a potent Razorback offense.

One of the biggest myths this week is about Arkansas' lack of a passing game. While it's true the Razorbacks average just 186.5 yards passing per game, they make them count when needed. They are averaging 8.5 yards per attempt on just 88 passes and 14.9 yards per catch, a big number because of the threat of the running game. Tuberville said Auburn would have to be wary of the big play in the passing game against the Hogs on Saturday.

"They are much improved throwing the football," Tuberville said. "They are a two-quarterback system (Jones and Ryan Sorahan) and both have been very successful throwing the ball. They have big receivers, very physical receivers. This is not a team where you can say ‘we're going to put nine on the line of scrimmage' because they are dangerous throwing the ball downfield."

Auburn's best defense on Saturday might be a good offense. That means running the ball against a defense that is allowing 137 yards rushing per game and almost four yards per carry. To do that well enough to win will depend on an offensive line that has come together since a tough opening to the 2003 season that saw them fall apart in losses to USC and Georgia Tech. Tuberville said their improvement has been a big key for this team and will be important this weekend to Auburn's success.

"I think the biggest thing is just playing together for a few games and earning confidence," Tuberville said of the improvement on the offensive line. "I think any time you play as poorly as we played early on the offensive line and overall offensively, just not being consistent, you can either do one of two things you can go forward or backwards. This team has a great work ethic and attitude and because of that they stayed with what they were doing and started doing a lot more things right."


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