Coach Tommy Tuberville said he saw progress on the defensive front as the Tigers drilled for a little more than two hours in shorts, shoulder pads and helmets. After Tuesday's practice, defensive coordinator Gene Chizik was not happy with the Tigers' play in stopping scout team QBs Will Herring and Todd Bradford. Both were giving the first and second team defense too many problems for Chizik's comfort, but that changed on Wednesday.
"I think the coaches were a little frustrated," Tuberville said of the Tuesday practice. "What they (scout team) they were doing was they were putting a fresh quarterback in there everytime and when your guys get a little bit tired it is a little bit of a mismatch even when you have a fresh guy over there running around--they are running sideways, running away from them other than trying to get yardage. We make it tough on the defense. They had a little bit of an attitude adjustment yesterday with the coaches. Today was a lot better practice--a lot more focused on what they were doing."
Quarterback Daniel Cobb was moving with no problems on Wednesday and will definitely start for Saturday's 11:30 a.m. kickoff. "He is full speed," Tuberville said. "He just has a little bit of soreness, but he will have that off and on throughout the year. He is fine."
Cobb looked smooth running the offense on Wednesday and with the Razorbacks expected to challenge him to make plays vs. man coverage, his passing accuracy will be a key to Auburn's success on Saturday. Keeping Arkansas QB Matt Jones from making big plays is definitely the focus of the Auburn defense.
"Stopping Matt Jones from running the ball is not easy to do, but that will be a key for us because he is such a good athlete," junior defensive end Reggie Torbor said. "We are going to have to get eight or nine people around him ready to make the tackle. He is such a big part of their offense this year--even more so than last season."
Torbor, who is still recovering from an ankle injury suffered vs. Southern California, took last week off from practice but has been working out since Sunday. Last season he was one of the Tigers trying to tackle Jones, who came up big in the fourth quarter to put the Tigers away in Fayetteville as the home team turned a tight game into a 42-17 runaway. "We have to get eight or nine people around him when Jones is running the football," Torbor said. "He is a really good runner who puts a lot of pressure on a defense."
Senior cornerback Roderick Hood also got to see Jones in action last October in northwest Arkansas and was impressed with what he saw. "We are going to have to mix it up on defense and keep Arkansas guessing at what we are doing," Hood said. "They have a real good quarterback. He is a big guy who is really hard to tackle. He has some big, physical receivers who have a lot of talent. They run good routes and they are dangerous runners after they make the catch."
Sophomore cornerback Carlos Rogers agrees with Hood that this will be a major test. "This is another one of those games when coach says the cornerbacks are going to have to earn their scholarships," Rogers said. "Their quarterback is really good. Nobody has really been able to tackle him all year long. He can stay alive and give his receivers time to get open. They have good receivers, too. They are fast and run good routes. We will have to be ready to play on Saturday."
Offensive tackle Mark Pera said that he is anticipating a physical game on Saturday. Kickoff is set for shortly after 11:30 a.m. and it will be televised regionally Jefferson-Pilot. "We had three really good, physical days of practice last week going against the scout team," Pera said. "We got to go full speed and were allowed to cut the linebackers. I think that really helped us and I believe it will show in the Arkansas game."
Tiger Ticket Extra: Tickets are still available for the Arkansas game, but the rest of the SEC home games are sellouts. There are still tickets left for homecoming vs. Louisiana-Monroe...Arkansas will have a good scouting report on Daniel Cobb. Assistant coach James Shibest coached Cobb in 1999 at Butler County Community College in Kansas as that team won the junior college national championship game...Tuberville said he was pleased with Damon Duval's kicking and punting on Thursday. Duval sat out of last week's practices while letting a groin pull heal...Arkansas is 8-9 vs. Top 25 teams with Houston Nutt as head coach. The Tigers are ranked 21st and 24th this week..Nutt has a 3-1 record vs. Auburn.