No. 9 Auburn looks to rebound vs. Arkansas

Coach Gus Malzahn: “I’m confident we are going to get better."

Auburn may have taken a gut-punch when LSU drilled a field goal as time ran out for a 22-21 victory last week, but at least coach Gus Malzahns crew doesnt have to live down an embarrassing YouTube clip like Arkansas, this weeks opponent.

The No. 9 Tigers (2-1, 0-1 Southeastern Conference) and Razorbacks (1-2, 0-0) clash Saturday with kickoff at 7:30 p.m. ET at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala. The SEC Network will air the game.

As if the 44-17 whipping the Razorbacks took from North Texas last week wasnt bad enough, salt was thrown on that wound by the video clip that shows the visiting Mean Green completely taking in the Hogs on a fake punt return.

Yes, a fake punt return, not a fake punt.

Keegan Brewer of North Texas caught an Arkansas punt at his own 10-yard line, virtually standing straight up in securing the ball in his midsection. Razorback defenders apparently figured that Brewer had made a fair catch and, after approaching him, veered off to the sideline when he didnt move.

Brewer waited until his blockers were set up along the left sideline and then took off, not stopping until he was 90 yards away and dancing in the end zone for a touchdown that gave North Texas an early 14-0 lead.

Youve got to play it all the way through, youve got to play through the whistle. That was my message, Arkansas coach Chad Morris said. Youve got to play through the whistle. So many guys were getting down the field. Youve got to get your eyes up and youve got to look for the fair catch call.

One of the guys said Hey, look Coach, I thought he put his hand up in his face, but a true fair catch signal was not given and it was evident on that. He stopped and he delayed. We were right there in position, but youve got to play through the whistle.

That was my message to those guys.

Auburns issues are more mundane. For a second straight season, the Tigers are coming off a gut-wrenching loss to LSU that doesnt completely derail their SEC hopes, but leaves the team looking for help in the SEC West Division.

At the first of the season, from a head coachs standpoint, you get up in front of your team and you give them the plan for the whole year, Malzahn said. And youve got to be aware of what youre going to go through. And like I said before, at least we went through it last year and know what it feels like, know what it looks like.

Its a matter, Malzahn said, of flipping the switch and focusing on the game just ahead.

You cant worry about last week, he said. You cant worry about the next week. You cant worry about how good this teams playing or that teams playing.

Thats the simple answer, and thats easier said than done. A lot of teams cant do that. Thats our challenge, and thats what were going to do.

Tactically, Malzahn is still working on getting the more out of his running game. The Tigers rushed for 130 yards in the loss to LSU. Junior Kam Martin has started at running back, but is getting a heavy push from freshman JaTarvious Boobee Whitlow, Shaun Shivers and Asa Martin.

Those freshmen running backs, every snap they are getting better, Malzahn said. They are understanding the blocking scheme, whether its a gap or zone scheme. You even started to see Boobee start to slow down a little bit. Weve been trying to get him to slow down some and read it.

We are still in the early stages of our run game, and its kind of what I said with our offensive line. With the running backs, Im confident we are going to get better just with the more experience that group has.

Comments