After playing a wide variety of offensive teams this season that mostly liked to spread the field, Auburn faces a Razorback offense that likes to pound the football with running backs Darren McFadden and Felix Jones behind the lead blocking of outstanding fullback Peyton Hillis.
That means a very different game for defensive backs such as sophomore Jerraud Powers. After chasing around receivers for much of the first six games, this week it will be mainly about tackling in run support against Arkansas.
"They're not too complicated," Powers says. "Arkansas is going to just line up and say ‘here is what we've got and are you going to stop it?' They're going to give the ball to McFadden and they're going to give the ball to Felix and they're going to give the ball to Hillis. It's just going to be a football game Saturday."
The change in offensive attacks from week to week are always something a defense has to adjust to, but this week is unlike any the Tigers will see all season. LSU is also a physical running team, but goes about it in a different way than the Razorbacks who use McFadden as a somewhat of a quarterback in addition to his duties at running back. Powers says while they'll do some different things it still comes down to making tackles against two of the best backs in the country.
"I don't think it changes anything really because every week you go out and have a game plan," Powers says. "You just have to go out and execute. That's what we've got to do. We've got to go out and execute the game plan we have. We're going to have to tackle well.
"McFadden is a Heisman candidate and a great back. He's going to be the best back we face. Felix is going to probably be the best or second best we face. We've just got to go execute what we've got called and play sound football."
"They're what I call good football players," Powers adds. "They are smart in the open field. They know how to read their blocks. They know how to use keys. They're not guys to go chew out their offensive lines. They are very encouraging. You can tell they are leaders on the field. They are good football players and we're going to have our hands full."
One of the biggest things the Auburn defense has emphasized since spring practice is not giving up the big play. That has been an improved part of the game in 2007 and will be a huge part of Saturday's game against Arkansas. In last season's loss Auburn gave up 279 rushing yards and 366 total yards to the Hogs.
In just five plays Arkansas gained 186 of those yards, including a 63-yard run for a score by McFadden and a 50-yard TD toss from Mitch Mustain to Marcus Monk. Powers says that's what they've got to eliminate this year beginning with the running game.
"They had three big plays that spit out on us and that was really the outcome of the game," Powers says. "We just have to stop the run. That's the main thing this week. They're going to keep running the ball and get Felix and McFadden the ball. We just have to stop the run. If we're able to stop the run I'm pretty sure we'll be okay."
Saturday night's matchup on ESPN at 6:45 is a big game for both teams after both got off a slow starts. With just one loss in the conference, Auburn still controls its own destiny for the SEC Championship game while Arkansas is looking for a win to attempt to turn around a season. Powers says both teams have a lot to fight for and it makes for a very good ball game.
"We're in the same boat," Powers says. "They had a couple of close games like the game at Alabama. That was a great game and could have gone either way. Kentucky went down to the wire and they pulled it out the last few minutes. They could easily be undefeated right now just like us. I don't think anybody is going to over look them. They're a great football team."