Arkansas Gives Auburn a Case of Swine Flu

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Arkansas Gives Auburn a Case of Swine Flu
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

"I watched Arkansas play in person. They're not real good. They can score on you, but they can't play defense."

"Arkansas can't stop a cold, but they'll try to score some points."

"The next two Auburn games are against bottom tier teams (Arkansas and Kentucky) in the SEC."

Tommy Tuberville, former Auburn head coach from 1999-2008.

Tommy: Don't give up your day job. Oh yeah, you already did.

As George W. Bush might have said: "Tubby you're doin' a heckuva job." Of kicking a sleeping dog, that is. That sleeping dog, the Arkansas Razorback defense, took a big ol' bite out of your former team's hindquarters for most of last Saturday's game, stuffing Auburn's vaunted hurry up no huddle offense, holding that Tiger to a little over 100 yards and three points in the first half.

Auburn's offense heated up in the second half, scoring 20 points in the time it would take Teletubby to stick his size tens in his mouth, but after facing a 34-3 deficit, it was too little, too late.

Oh yeah, Flubberville. I don't know what Jerry Jones fed you in the Cowboy owners suite last week in Dallas. Maybe some of that wholly guacamole advertised in the stadium sent you running to the bathroom for the final three quarters of the Arkansas-Texas A&M contest and you missed the Hogs defensive flogging of the Aggies.

Whatever it was, Hog fans have a message for you: take that and stick it in your "bottom tier."

In any event, even though the Hogs' defense had a couple of lapses in the second half giving up two long plays, this defense is vastly improved over the crew that bumbled and stumbled their way into giving up 52 points to Georgia last month.

The first big play was a 60 yard touchdown run by Ben Tate, then the second was on a reverse to receiver Terrell Zachary after a handoff to Tate, to which the Hogs' defense over-reacted.

The Hogs outhit, outhustled and just generally whipped Auburn's offensive and defensive units and Dennis Johnson's 70 yard kickoff return to answer an Auburn score put the final nail in the coffin.

Ironically, the sophomore Johnson returned a Tulsa kickoff for a touchdown last season in Fayetteville to provide the Hogs' final margin in a 30-23 win over Gus Malzahn's team. Gus must be sick of looking at the Hogs' #33 by now.

In another irony, after noting in an earlier article how Malzahn would be bringing much better players into town than Tulsa did last season, Auburn left town with the same total on the scoreboard, 23 points.

Not having seen the coaches' film, just seeing the game in person with the naked eye, it appeared to me that the Hogs were determined to stop Auburn's passing game and dare the Tigers to keep running the ball.

Gus Malzahn is famous for taking what the defense gives. I believe it was the UA gameplan to take their chances with Chris Todd and dare he and those young Auburn receivers to beat them.

If so, it worked with the Tigers making only 133 yards through the air and Todd getting sacked a few times, coughing up a fumble on one takedown. With Auburn's balance on offense, coming in averaging around 250 yards per game both running and passing, the idea is to make your opponent one dimensional.

The time of possession in the game was Arkansas 38:27 to Auburn's 21:33, thus the Hogs hogged the ball over a full quarter of the game longer than the Tigers. The quickness with which Auburn scored was a factor in that, but no defense can be on the field that long and not wear out, especially one without a lot of depth.

Even though the Hogs yielded 395 total yards with 242 coming on the ground, some will say that Auburn was overrated instead of giving the Razorback defense credit. Make no mistake. While Auburn clearly isn't in a class with Alabama, this is still a good team and I look for Auburn to win 8 games or so on the season.

Just don't sell this Arkansas defense short, it is improving every week. Since a shaky 0-10 hole against A&M at the start of last week's game, the Hogs have scored 91 points and given up 32.

The Hogs still have an alarming tendency to give up big plays at times, but no team, not even Alabama, has really driven the ball down the field consistently on this defense.

Cutting down on the big plays is mostly a matter of maturity, consistency and concentration. This is still a young team and the defense has shown marked improvement as the season has unfolded. I believe they will continue to improve and while they probably won't remind anyone of the Alabama defense, this will be a solid unit the remainder of the season.

The Hogs won this game without Joe Adams, who had a minor stroke earlier in the week. Jarius Wright left the game in the 1st quarter with an injury of some kind and Michael Smith appeared to pull a hamstring before the end of the third quarter.

These Hogs are tough and they are resilient. That probably won't be enough for a win next week, it might even be an ugly loss to Florida. The rest of the SEC better be on notice, however, these Hogs are dangerous.

They may not be able to "stop a cold" according to Teletubby, whatever that means, but Auburn came down with a bad case of the swine flu Saturday. It could be catching for opponents not named Florida on the Arkansas schedule.

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