Anytime you have to travel on the road and take on a SEC opponent it's a difficult task. It's even harder when it's Razorback Stadium and the team you're taking on averages nearly 40 points a game. But it gets even worse when you are without two of your top wide receivers as well.
The Auburn Tigers already knew they would be taking on the Arkansas Razorbacks without wide receiver Trovon Reed who also missed last week with a shoulder injury. But they have learned that they will more than likely be without leading receiver Emory Blake as well.
Blake left last week's game against South Carolina in the second half with an ankle injury. Apparently it hasn't gotten any better and the Tigers may have to play in this big game without him.
“We won’t know until later on in the week, but I’m not hopeful right now on Emory. I’m not going to rule him out, but we are planning to play without him,” head coach Gene Chizik said in quotes distributed by the team. “Again, we’ll keep working on it until the end of the week, but I’m not hopeful right now.”
Blake leads the team in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.
Looking at these two teams completely healthy on paper, you would think the Tigers had a chance to pull off the upset. Auburn has a solid quarterback, a great running back and solid receivers to keep up with Arkansas' high-powered offense.
The one weakness for Auburn is stopping the run but they don't have much to worry about in this contest because the Razorbacks don't run the ball well at all. And if these last couple weeks have shown anything, it's that the Arkansas offense can be slowed down if not stopped as they struggled to put points on the board.
Auburn may be a young team but they can still compete with almost any team in the country.
If both wide receivers end up missing this game, it will be a huge blow to this young Auburn team.
Junior running back Onterio McCalebb is the leading receiver behind Blake. The other two receivers in Travante Stallworth and DeAngelo Benton have caught a combined 21 passes. This season they have totaled only 12 catches between the two of them.
That means that Auburn will have to rely even more on running back Michael Dyer and even more pressure on quarterback Barrett Trotter.
The Tigers have already won impressive close games this season but this may be asking a little much from a young team like Auburn.
The loss of Emory Blake may mean a loss on Saturday against Arkansas.