Auburn brings offense to visit Razorbacks.
Arkansas' defense has given up 139 points in three SEC games to this point and with Auburn's high-powered offense coming to town on Saturday they will get another test.
Auburn's offense has actually inconsistent at times this season including the second half of last week's game against LSU. Auburn had a 20-0 lead in the first half, but ended up losing 27-23. Arkansas (2-4, 0-3) should be ready for this game. Last year in Auburn the Tigers put a 56-3 beating on the Hogs.
Freshman cornerback Kamren Curl has been thrown into the fire this season, but has handled it well. While he wasn't on the team last year he knows it's important to get a win over this team on Saturday.
"Yeah we just can't let them do that this game," Curl said.
On the season, Curl has 25 tackles and four pass breakups. He also has been the victim of two very questionable pass interference calls. One in the Texas A&M game and another against South Carolina. Are those frustrating to you?
Yeah it gets frustrating cause it's stuff like I'm supposed to do," Curl said. "Coach (Paul) Rhoads tells me this stuff and it's how coach wants me to do it. He wouldn't want me to do it any other way."
What does your teammates say to you following those plays?
"They usually just say have a short memory," Curl said. "Come back and make a play. In the scrimmage in the fall I got a pass interference call and the next play I got a pick. So you've just got to have a short memory."
Senior Kevin Richardson is another defensive back who wasn't on the field last year when Auburn ran over the Hogs. However, he is back this season from the injury that sidelined him last season. He is the first player this season to intercept a pass thrown by Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts. Rhoads called the interception an un-pickable ball.
"The interception play he made was a big-time football play," Rhoads said. "That was a great play, but he’s making plays on the other side of the center, too, after doing his job.
"It was an un-pickable ball. The route was in the flat and his job was to re-route a vertical route and then try to push that route as flat as he can so the amount of yards gained is minimized. He shouldn’t have been at an angle to be able to intercept that ball."
Richardson talked about the interception and Rhoads saying it was an un-pickable ball.
"I mean, it was just like I looked up and saw him trying to check something and ended up making a good read," Richardson said. "I saw him and the receiver communicate something and just kind of had awareness of the sticks and what was going on. Just made a good play. Just tried to disguise what I was doing and ended up doing that and he threw me one."
One key to having success against Auburn's offense will be slowing down tailback Kerryon Johnson. This season in five games, Johnson has rushed 116 times for 660 yards and 13 touchdowns. Vernon Hargreaves coaches Arkansas' inside linebackers and is aware of the task of trying to control Johnson.
"He’s a big-time player, man," Hargreaves said. "He really is. He’s playing better this year than he was last year and he likes it. He wants the ball in his hands and he does a good job with it. He runs hard. He’s averaging way over 100 yards per game, so he’s going to be a heck of a challenge for us."
There wasn't many bright spots for Arkansas in last week's 42-9 loss to top-ranked Alabama, but one big positive was the play of sophomore inside linebacker De'Jon Harris. He has 12 tackles, just as he had the previous week against the Gamecocks, and added two tackles for loss and a sack. Hargreaves talked about Harris' performance last week.
"He played well," Hargreaves said. "Obviously not well enough for us to win the ballgame, but I think he’s continuing to grow and continuing to figure it out. The more that happens, I think the better we’ll be overall with the confidence that those guys have in him and those types of things. It makes everybody hopefully play a little bit better. Hopefully he’ll continue that upward trend and keep getting better every week."
A player the Arkansas secondary will have to be aware of this week is junior wide receiver Will Hastings. He went to Auburn as a walk-on hopeful from Pulaski Academy and has emerged to catch 16 passes for 335 yards and three touchdowns this season. Richardson is very aware of Hastings.
"He’s really talented," Richardson said. "We watched him on film. I remember, I watched him play LSU last weekend and saw him get him a nice deep ball on a double move. I mean, he’s always been talented.
"I saw him out of high school. I thought we was going to come here, but I guess he just wanted to go do something else and ended up being successful down there. He’s a talented kid and we’re going to look out for him on Saturday."
Arkansas and Auburn will kickoff Saturday night at 6:30 p.m. CT in Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. The game will be televised on the SEC Network.