"We really didn't know much about him," defensive end Javor Mills says. "He just came out and boom. We really didn't know what he could do. But he showed us he could do a lot."
The Tigers soon found out exactly what he could do. After Auburn took a 7-0 lead on a 37-yard TD catch by Tim Carter early in the second quarter, Talley quickly evened the score. On the first play from scrimmage on the Hogs' next possession, he raced 80 yards for his second-career touchdown.
Fred Talley runs vs. Bama this season. (Photo courtesy of Clay Henry, Hawgs Illustrated.
That one touchdown run launched Talley onto the SEC scene. Auburn held off a late Hog rally to win the game 21-19, but the Longview, Tex., native did his damage ending the game with 161 yards and leaving the Tigers with a new found respect for the Razorbacks' tiny, but tough running back. Talley's 100-yard effort vs. Auburn was his first of three consecutive against conference schools and he was well on his way to a fourth before he injured his right knee against Mississippi State. The ACL injury cost him the remainder of the season.
"He's a hard runner," defensive tackle Spencer Johnson says. "I've seen him break several tackles. He just lowers his head and fights for yards. Those are the kind of runners that you need to be aware of. He's undersized, but he's got the biggest heart I've ever seen in a running back. Just watching him and his performance against us last year proves he's a dangerous runner and we have to contain him to win the game."
Talley missed all of spring drills with the knee injury, but was back in time for the start of the 2001 season. After getting off to a slow start in the Hogs' first four games, Talley has picked up where he left off by rushing for back-to-back 100-yard games including a 111-yard performance in the Razorbacks' 10-7 upset over South Carolina.
The junior tailback won't catch Auburn off guard this time around. The Tigers know exactly what to expect from the Texan, but the question is can they contain him. "We've seen that he likes to cut back and he hits the hole wherever it is," Mills says. "We have to stay in our lanes and swarm to the ball. Those kind of scat backs are hard to stop."
As hard as Talley might be to stop, if the Tigers want to remain undefeated in conference play they are going to have to figure out a way to do so. In fact, Johnson says the key to beating Arkansas Saturday is just that.