Jones Presents A Big Challenge To Tiger Defense

Senior defensive end Bret Eddins talks about Auburn's game against Arkansas and the increased pressure that comes with winning.

Auburn, Ala.–-Ask any Auburn player about the last Arkansas trip to the Plains and you'll likely get a shake of the head or a frown.

That's because the game was one of the worst performances in recent years for an Auburn team. On that day the Hogs rushed for 426 yards and repeatedly torched the Auburn defense in a 38-17 victory in Jordan-Hare Stadium. Senior Bret Eddins said the memory is one he would like to forget heading into this week's matchup against the Razorbacks.

"It was one of the low points around here in a long time," Eddins says. "We're just going to have to work hard not to repeat that."

There haven't been many low points for the Tigers this season on defense as they continue to handle the opposition week after week. Allowing just 7.2 points per game and 100.5 rushing yards per game, Auburn leads the SEC in two defensive catagories and is second in pass defense and total defense. The Tigers are fourth nationally in points allowed and have yet to give up a rushing touchdown.

Eddins chases down the Hogs last season in Auburn's 10-3 win in Fayetteville.

Throw in a solid offense and improving kicking game and you have a very good Auburn team as the Tigers prepare to face visiting Arkansas on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. on CBS. Eddins says that keeping things in perspective is the biggest task for his team this week because now everyone wants to tell the team how good they are in class and around campus.

"It's kind of funny that we have to calm the fans down now," Eddins says. "We've done good, but we're not halfway through the season really. We've got to calm down and get worried about Arkansas. We've got great fans, but they get a little excited sometimes. We can't overlook anybody. We know what Arkansas can do and we've seen what they can do this year against a real good team like Texas. By no means will we overlook them."

One glance at the Arkansas offense and you'll know why Eddins and the Tigers must be on top of their game this weekend if they hope to come away with the win. The Hogs are first in the league in scoring offense, passing offense and total offense and are second in rushing offense. Eddins says that everything begins with quarterback Matt Jones and the things he does for Coach Houston Nutt.

"He's one of those guys that when you watch him it doesn't look like he's moving that fast," Eddins explains. "You take an angle and you think it's good, then you realize, 'oh crap.' I'm the exact opposite. I trick people because I'm working so hard to run they think 'this guy's flying." It's not that he's deceptive, but his running form is just so different from most guys that have the kind of speed he has.

"Quite honestly he's one of the toughest people in college to try to simulate in practice. You can't find a 6-6, 250-pound guy that can run like he can and throw on the run and make people miss. Other quarterbacks are a little easier. He's improved every year that he's been playing and you just kind of hope he's having an off day. If he's throwing the ball well you're in trouble."

Matt Jones and the Razorbacks are 1-1 in league play this season and 3-2 overall.

It's not just Jones' throwing that causes problems for opponents. One of the top running quarterbacks in the country, Jones has rushed for 313 yards this season in addition to his 1,090 passing yards. Eddins says that because of his speed and elusiveness you have to know where your teammates are at all times when facing the Hogs.

"You have to know where your help is and your leverage," Eddins says. "He does a good job of taking that away from you. When you think you've got him contained to the outside he's got those long strides and will make you bite to the inside and be gone. You have to know where your help is because he's able to take you one-one-one pretty easily. If you get a group of guys coming at him it's a little harder for him."

In the driver's seat for the SEC Western Division title as the only undefeated team in league play, this week's game is a huge hurdle if the Tigers hope to continue on the road to Atlanta. Winning breeds success and with success comes expectations. Eddins says he believes this team is ready to handle the pressure and everything that goes along with being one of the top teams in the country.

"Every week is the biggest week from here on out," he says. "You can't overlook anybody because everybody is looking to take you down. I think everybody on the team realizes the stakes are getting higher. That in itself should help guys keep an even keel and stay focused."


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