Auburn, 2-0 in the conference, will look to stay atop the SEC West football standings vs. the visiting Razorbacks, who will be trying to snap a two-game losing streak after dropping conference games to Alabama and Tennessee.
Arkansas spends a lot of time and effort trying to disguise what they are doing on defense in an attempt to confuse opposing quarterbacks. "I think what they do is sound," says Cobb. "Those guys jumping around and kind of moving around makes it look kind of unorthodox. I think this extra week will help us with our preparation."
The Razorbacks line up wolf linebacker Tony Bua and rover Jimmy Beasley in a variety of positions to keep the offense guessing where they are coming from. At times, the Razorbacks will be in a traditional 4-3 front, but at other times they will line up in a 3-3 look and at other times will have eight or nine men on the line of scrimmage daring opponents to pass.
"We are going to have to throw the ball some and make some big plays," says Cobb, who expects to see eight-man fronts to stop the SEC's leading rusher, sophomore tailback Carnell Williams. The Cadillac had a big game against the Razorbacks last season.
Even though Auburn is leading the SEC in total offense, Cobb says the Tigers are still a work in progress. "We are out there busting our tails like we are last in the conference and we have to get just that much better," he says. "I feel like we really haven't put four quarters together of great offense and that is really what we are searching for." Last season, the Tigers finished ninth in the Southeastern Conference in total offense. "From last year to this year, everybody's competing and practicing harder with better tempo and better execution in practice," Cobb says. "That is carrying over to the field."
Cobb spent last week doing rehab on his ankle that he injured in the second quarter of the Syracuse game. On Sunday, he returned to practice and assumed the number one spot ahead of redshirt sophomore Jason Campbell.
Offensive coordinator and quarterback coach Bobby Petrino is the man who makes the call on who the starting quarterback will be. Petrino says that if Cobb stays healthy this week in practice, the senior will start vs. the Razorbacks.
Head coach Tommy Tuberville notes that he gives each position coach the responsibility of choosing who starts as well as the playing rotation. "I think it is important for the guy who coaches a player to make the decision because they know a lot more mentally of what they know and don't know," Tuberville says. "Like during the game, I can watch as well as the rest of them and I know what is going on and I can help them. I watch a lot of guys and I will suggest, ‘Hey, you need to take him out for a while.' Like Ronnie Brown--he fumbled in the Vanderbilt game. I didn't have to tell them. They knew. You just don't fumble."
Tuberville and his coaching staff are tweaking the game plan.The players took the day off on Monday and will return to the practice field for workouts the next three days to get ready for Arkansas. The Tigers and Razorbacks have played 11 football games with Auburn holding a 6-4-1 series edge, but the Razorbacks have won three of the last four meetings.
Tiger Ticket Extra: Last Oct. 27th in Fayetteville in game eight of the season, Auburn saw a four-game winning streak go up in smoke on a day in which Carnell Williams raced for 177 yards and one touchdown on 19 carries, his top rushing total of the season. However, three Tiger turnovers and other errors were costly for the visitors, who were blitzed with three fourth quarter Arkansas touchdowns as the home team shocked the Tigers with a 42-17 victory. Cobb, who had won the starting job over Campbell for his off-the-bench heroics to lead Auburn to a victory over No. 1 ranked Florida two weeks earlier, was 22-40 passing in the Arkansas game for 254 yards. However, two of his passes were intercepted and converted into 14 Arkansas points. The best quarterback play of the day came from Arkansas freshman Matt Jones, who rushed for 99 yards on 10 carries and threw a 21-yard TD pass. "He is an amazing guy," Tuberville says. When asked the best way to defense the six-foot-five speedster, Tuberville says, "I don't think there is a set way. When you blitz him and miss you are in trouble." Tuberville says that trying to force Jones to slow down and make a move and let the pursuit catch up didn't work very well for Tennessee last Saturday night. "I think, if anything, you have just got to get as many people around him as you can. Try to confuse him. Take the ball out of his hands."
Arkansas QB Matt Jones is shown on the run vs. Auburn last season.
Jones was more of a runner than a passer as a high school star at Northside High in Fort Smith, Ark. He ran for 939 yards his senior season and passed for 830. Max Emfinger ranked Jones as the nation's 13th best quarterback/athlete. As a junior at Van Buren High, he also played wide receiver. He was a standout in basketball, too, setting a conference record for scoring at 24.5 points per game as a junior. He averaged 4.2 points and 2.3 rebounds as a freshman last season for the Arkansas basketball team. "He is a very special athlete," Tuberville says. "He is a guy who can run. He throws better than what people think. Last year he didn't throw it very well. He has gotten a lot better at throwing the ball."