Averaging 435.2 yards and 33.8 points per game on offense, Auburn enters the contest second in the SEC in both categories behind Arkansas. The big difference in the two teams is on defense where Arkansas is ninth in SEC total defense and tied for seventh in scoring defense, a far cry from Auburn's stats this season. Arkansas junior linebacker Sam Olajubutu said that he believes the Hogs will play a different brand of football on defense this week after a strong second half showing against Florida the last time out when they held the Gators to just 113 yards of total offense.
"We're coming off momentum of a better half," Olajubutu said. "We're optimistic and looking on the bright side. That's our last half of playing and we're going to try to feed off that going into this week's game. We have to play just like we played in the second half in this week's game."
Defensive end Jeb Huckeba will be one of the key Arkansas defenders this Saturday.
Unfortunately for the Hogs the damage was already done as the Gators had a commanding 38-7 lead at intermission on the way to a wild 45-30 victory. The 45 points is two more than Auburn has allowed this season in six games, one more than Arkansas has played. Against the two physical running games (Texas, Florida) they have played this season the Razorbacks are allowing an average of 265 rushing yards per game.
The passing defense hasn't been any better as the two passing teams (Louisiana-Monroe, Florida) the Hogs have faced are averaging 312.5 yards through the air this season. Arkansas has allowed more than 300 yards of total offense in four of five games and gave up 396 yards to Louisiana-Monroe in a 49-20 win. That's 88 more yards than Auburn's highest opponent total this season to LSU. For a balanced offense like Auburn this game could become very fun.
"We know this is going to be a big game," Olajubutu said. "A lot of people are talking about Auburn and how they are playing. They deserve to be in the top five because they're playing pretty good. It's going to be a big game. We're just going to have to come out and play our hardest."
Coach Tommy Tuberville and the Tigers put the finishing touches on the game plan for the Razorbacks with a two-hour practice Thursday that featured an extra-long special teams session and a polishing of the plans on both sides of the ball. Tuberville said he feels like his team is ready to play and is happy with the focus they've shown this week in practice.
"We've had a good week of practice," Tuberville said. "I thought our scout teams did a great job of simulating what we're going to see this week. That was very important. Blake Field and Calvin Booker simulated the quarterback we're going to see. It's hard to do that, but it was a good week looking at option plays and bootlegs and all kinds of things we'll see during the course of the game.
"We worked especially hard on special teams. They (Arkansas) do a lot of things and we have to cover all our bases. With an extra week of practice I'm sure we'll see a few different wrinkles. We're pretty much healthy and the spirits are high with the cool weather. It's kind of like football weather now. I think that really helped us through this week. It was a good week of preparation, it couldn't have been much better. Now we just have to focus and watch a little bit more film before Saturday's game and see what happens."
Tuberville has been involved with a number of good football teams through his years as a coach, including several championship teams at Miami. While good football players have a huge impact on what kind of season you have, Tuberville said that he feels like his team has that special something that gets them going each week and prepared to play their hardest no matter the competition.
"It's obvious how they play well together," Tuberville said. "Ronnie Brown today has the name "Leon" on the back of his jersey, the Budweiser guy that blames everything on his teammates. These guys are having fun. It's fun to see that. They're not only having fun, but they're playing well. They look forward to practice and look forward to playing on Saturdays. You can probably ask some of these guys who we're playing and it will be 'Arkansas,' but it doesn't make any difference. We're just looking forward to playing and see if we can get better"."
Kickoff for Saturday's showdown with the Hogs is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. and can be seen nationally on CBS television. Auburn enters with an eight-game winning streak and is 6-0 this season while the Hogs are 3-2 overall, 1-1 in SEC play.