Muschamp Expects Physical Opponent This Week

Will Muschamp was not pleased with the coaching or execution against South Carolina but is looking for a better performance against the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Auburn, Ala.--Looking to improve each week, Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp says that Thursday night's close call at South Carolina was a step in the wrong direction for the defense.

With upcoming games against Arkansas and Florida on the schedule, the Tigers' defense won't have much time to figure out what went wrong and fix it.

"We've taken a step forward in about every game other than Thursday night," Muschamp says. "We're 5-0. It could be worse. We had a lot of things we could have done better Thursday night.

"I'm not really pleased with how we played or coached the game," he adds. "They gave us some different things they haven't done before. We didn't really adjust well in the game, but we did what we had to do to win when it came down to the time. It was a frustrating night to try to get something going in our direction. Luckily our offense bailed us out."

Muschamp and his defense had a difficult time scheming against Steve Spurrier's offense, but this week's game won't be as difficult of a coaching battle.

Muschamp has obviously never faced Arkansas offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn because this is Malzahn's first year not coaching in the prep ranks. However, with a stable in the backfield Muschamp says it's mostly the same style Arkansas team as he coached against when he was at LSU.

"It's a typical Arkansas offense," Muschamp notes. "They're very physical up front. (Darren) McFadden, (Felix) Jones and (Peyton) Hillis are outstanding backs. (Marcus) Monk is an outstanding receiver outside and he's a big target. What I see is what I have seen from a long time out of Arkansas--physical, tough and they've added some things from a formation standpoint in the throwing game.

"They're doing a things a little different," he adds. "Formation-wise with some shifts and some motion, and the passing game is a little different. But you're seeing the same running game, just different ways to get to it."


Hillis is one of the more versatile offensive players in the league but only has 10 touches on offense this season.

McFadden has battled through a toe injury, but is still second in the SEC behind Kenny Irons with 102.2 yards rushing per game. Jones, the flashy back, is averaging 8.4 yards a carry and 64.8 yards per game. Hillis has just four carries and six receptions this season through four games.

One point of emphasis in Muschamp's defensive philosophy is forcing turnovers, but through five games this season the defense has forced just six. That may change this week as Arkansas has an awful 1 to 10 ratio through four games this season.

The Razorbacks also like to spread it out and get the ball to players like Monk and freshman Damian Williams, also of Springdale. When the Razorbacks try to spread the field Muschamp says that Auburn may give a different look than it did against South Carolina, particularly in the nickel formation.

"We're going to practice this week and it'll be between Jerraud (Powers) and Zach Gilbert," Muschamp says. "We're also going to look at changing up our cover guys based on where they align their receivers and get our best matchups possible."


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