The preseason matchup between Arkansas and Auburn looked great on paper. Some analysts picked Auburn to make a run at the College Football Playoff while others expected the Razorbacks to parlay their late 2014 success into even better things this season. Oh how things have changed.
Some things don’t change, though, like the simple basics of football — and keeping Auburn’s prolific offense off the field.
The teams are tied for fifth in the SEC West at 1-2 apiece, with their wins coming in their last games on the road over Eastern Division squads. Arkansas won at Tennessee on Oct. 10 while Auburn defeated Kentucky last Thursday in Lexington. A win keeps momentum going for one of these schools as they both look for bowl eligibility in the coming weeks.
Before Tuesday’s practice, Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen said the Razorbacks need their imposing offensive line to control Auburn’s powerful defensive line in order to open up the running game for Alex Collins and Rawleigh Williams.
“One of our goals is to run the ball to open up that play action pass,” Allen said. “We need to keep our offense on the field and keep their up-tempo offense off the field.”
Allen said the Razorback offense needs to get better on third- and fourth-down conversions while also improving their proficiency at the goal line.
“We’ve got to continue working at staying on the field and keeping drives alive,” Allen said. “We’ve been getting better as the year goes on at the goal line, getting more touchdowns than field goals.”
Allen said Auburn’s big defensive line and experienced secondary will present a challenge to the Razorbacks.
“They have a lot of guys that do a lot of things well. And they’re disciplined,” Allen said.
Tight ends coach Barry Lunney Jr. fielded questions on Hunter Henry before practice on Tuesday, saying that when Henry starts getting evaluated at the next level, “you look at other tight ends around the conference and the country, I think you see a guy that’s really well-rounded.”
“He’s a complete player and he knows he’s not going to catch the ball 20 times a game,” Lunney said. “That’s part of playing tight end, you’ve got to get in there and grind it out and be physical.
“His attitude has always been great whether he catches 10 balls or two balls. He wants to win. He’s not worried about himself. We’ve got a lot of guys like that. And when you’ve got a lot of guys like that, you’ve got a formula for success.”
Arkansas will seek any formula to get back into the thick of the SEC West and get back on track to a winning season.