AUBURN, Ala. — The bye week gave Auburn time to recover and self-assess. Now it’s back to SEC West competition.
Auburn hosts Arkansas on Saturday. The Razorbacks are coming off narrow victory over Ole Miss. When the Associated Press rankings were released Sunday, Arkansas was ranked 17th and Auburn came in at 21st.
Auburn hasn’t lost since offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee took over as full-time play-caller. Lashlee had his weekly Sunday press conference to get the week started.
- Kerryon Johnson is back. “He was out there … It was good to see him out there moving around,” Lashlee said. Also indicated “everyone” was out there.
- On Arkansas: “We’ve watched the film obviously from last year. Sean has as well. There’s a lot of familiarity … They do a good job,” Lashlee said.
- Offensive line is being mixed and matched, Lashlee said. Specifically regarding Xavier Dampeer, Lashlee said, “He’s getting close to 100 percent. I don’t think he’s quite at 100 percent. I’m not sure anyone is at this point in the season.” But said offensive line will continue to be assessed.
- Drops were an issue against Arkansas last season. That’s improved this year. What changed? “It’s part of the job description as a wide receiver. Catch the ball … It’s a testament to the job they did this offseason, jugs machine,” Lashlee said.
- Jason Smith is still a wide receiver, but does get some work at quarterback — his original position from time to time.
- Expanding on Kerryon Johnson, Lashlee “feels pretty good” that he’ll be good to go this week.
- Lashlee talks about the tough culture of the Arkansas Razorbacks, over the course of history. Talks about his experiences as a player there.
- Lashlee watched a “good bit” of the Ole Miss-Arkansas game last night. He said he likes to watch games on TV from a different perspective than he does as a coach.”
- Last year’s ending: “There’s no more added motivation. We didn’t execute in the areas we needed to do to win that football game. From that standpoint, yeah, we need to redeem ourselves,” Lashlee said. He also mentions when Sean White “grew up” during the two-minute drill against Arkansas last year.
- Tony Stevens is a “guy you see gaining more confidence this season,” Lashlee said. “He’s got to go out there and make the plays. He’s done that more this season than before … Is he as consistent as he wants to be? No. But he’s more consistent than he’s ever been.”
- “For us to play better in the second half (of the season), we’ve got to cut down turnovers. The turnover margin has to improve, and that starts with us,” Lashlee said.
- “I’ve never been a huge fan of the game manager term,” Lashlee said. He believes it does go hand-in-hand with winning, though. Lashlee said Sean White is more than that, but he does a good job of managing the game.”
- On blocking: “We haven’t gotten backwards as much from a penalty standpoint or a negative yards standpoint.”
- Jason Smith conversation returns. “He’s been good. He’s had a really good attitude. He gives us great versatility.”
- Said the defense “takes on Robb’s personality,” referring to Arkansas defensive coordinator Robb Smith. “Do they force a lot of three-and-outs? No. But they get off the field. They do a really good job of keeping you away from the big play. If they do make a big play, they capitalize on it,” Lashlee said.