Ratliff Expecting Physical Challenge From Arkansas

Auburn senior Jay Ratliff discusses this week's SEC showdown with the Razorbacks of Arkansas.

Auburn, Ala.--Jay Ratliff is new to the defensive tackle position this year, but he is experienced when it comes to the Auburn vs. Arkansas football series.

He has seen his Auburn defense play very well vs. the Razorbacks, as was the case last year in a 10-3 Auburn victory, or very poorly, as was the case two years ago when the Razorbacks came to Jordan-Hare Stadium and won 38-17. On Saturday, the senior will be one of the players the Auburn coaching staff will be counting on to win the battle at the line of scrimmage.

"They have a physical offensive line, they come off the ball hard and they try to dominate," Ratliff says of the Razorbacks. "It is definitely one of those type of games. It is another big, physical offensive line that somehow we have to try to contain and stop."

Ratliff, who came to Auburn as a tight end, played defensive end last season. He moved inside to tackle in spring training this year where he is coached by Don Dunn. The Auburn assistant says that Ratliff is improving as a tackle.

"He has done a nice job," Dunn says. "It is hard to move from end to tackle. It is a whole different world inside, but I think Jay is getting better every day and in every game."

Ratliff just misses a safety sack at Tennessee earlier this season.

Dunn says that he hopes to get more pass rush out of Ratliff as the senior becomes more comfortable at the position. "He has got a lot of athletic ability," Dunn notes. "He has what we call great hips where he is really flexible. He can turn his hips, change direction and jump and run. He has a lot of positive things going for him."

Ratliff says he isn't certain why games vs. the Razorbacks have been physical in recent years, but he has some theories. "I don't know if it is because they are big physical guys and in games we want to see where we are at or what we have really got or if it is because we have beaten one another and we want to get revenge. It could be one of those two." Matt Jones. He is a player who has the attention of the entire Auburn defense. "He is very, very talented and he has a lot of speed," Ratliff says. "He is definitely somebody we have to contain. We have to keep him inside the box and not let him get outside."

Ratliff says that every game is big as far as he is concerned, but notes that with the Razorbacks being an SEC West team, the contest has added importance. "This is a game we need," he says. "It is one of the steps on the way to Atlanta."

Auburn is ranked fourth nationally in scoring defense, but Ratliff says he is not a numbers guy. He does know the Tigers are performing better on defense than many expected with key losses from last year's team.

"This is what I expected." he says. "This what I like. We are underdogs and we just go out and compete. If we do that everything takes care of itself.

"So far we are playing good. As always, there are a lot of things we can get better at and what we are going to do is strive to get better."

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