October 07, 2006

Razorbacks Defeat Auburn


I have lived in Arkansas off and on since 1979, but I was never a Razorback football fan. I graduated college at the University of Arkansas, and I attended every home basketball game during the 1994 season when the Razorbacks won the NCAA National Championship in basketball. It was a great year.

As the years have passed, I have grown to appreciate the Razorback football team a little more. My problem with the team stemmed from an incident that happened back in 1982. I won't go into details, but I have since realized that there are different coaches and different players than were on the team back then, and the particular incident that turned me off to them was actually committed by fans and not players.

Today, the home boys whipped up on the #2 ranked team in the nation, the Auburn Tigers, to the tune of 27-10. It was one of the biggest upsets that will probably happen in college football this season, and it was the first time an unranked team beat a top ten team this year. Auburn's hopes of a national title were pretty much crushed on their own field this afternoon.

Feel free to correct me if I am wrong, but I believe all of the college football "experts" at ESPN got this one wrong today.

Tigers, Irons look to punish Razorbacks

Saturday, October 07, 2006
CHARLES GOLDBERG
News staff writer

AUBURN - You'd think a team that has to practice against talented tailback Darren McFadden every day would know a little something about playing run defense.

The Arkansas Razorbacks have had trouble grasping the subject, however.

Arkansas heads into today's game against Auburn in Jordan-Hare Stadium ranked 11th in the SEC in stopping the run, and that could be an ominous sign for the Razorbacks as they prepare to line up against the only running back in the league more effective than McFadden.

Anybody care to guess what Kenny Irons might do against the Razorbacks?

(Hint: He gained 182 yards against them in his coming out party last year).

Irons, who tops the SEC in rushing with an 110-yard per game average, will lead the Tigers into the SEC West game that will leave only one team in the division with a perfect conference record. No.2 Auburn is 5-0 overall and 3-0 in the SEC. Arkansas is 3-1 overall and 2-0 in the league.

There is a good chance that either Irons or McFadden, or maybe their talented backups, will rule the day. That’s because neither team has passed much because of inexperience (in Arkansas’ case) nor nagging injuries (in Auburn’s case) and both coaches like to win with the run and play defense, anyway.

Guess that’s why Arkansas and Auburn are 1-2 in the league in rushing, as they have been most of this decade. "There’s no question they have as good a running game as there is in the country," said Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp.

Irons was Brad Lester’s backup heading into Arkansas last season. But he took over in that game when Lester was hurt, and has rushed for more than 100 yards in seven of his 10 games since.

Auburn will have to try to spring Irons with a new starting center. Jason Bosley will make his first career start - and appear in his fifth college game - when he replaces Joe Cope, who is out at least a month with a sprained knee. That injury followed the loss of starting tight end Cole Bennett, who is out with a broken ankle.

Arkansas is healthier, but less experienced, especially at quarterback where true freshman Mitch Mustain will start his fourth game, and where Muschamp will try to confuse him with his pressure defense.

Muschamp will also try to confuse Arkansas offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, who was Mustain’s head coach at Springdale High School, which is not so far from the Arkansas campus.

But first up will be Mustain himself. "You have to give him different looks, coverages, pressures and really disguise well, regardless of whether he’s a freshman or a senior," Muschamp said. "This is a talented kid.

"It’s a system he’s been running. We have to mix it up on him." And they could mean bringing pressure. Auburn is second in the league with 17 sacks. Arkansas is tied for the fewest allowed, with four.

"The quarterback does a good job of getting rid of the ball," Muschamp said. "We just have to mix it up, find the right matchups in the rushes, pressure them here and there and see if we can get to him."

cgoldberg@bhamnews.com

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