Going into this weeks game, many people have mentioned the personal motivational points for specific people. They say, Gus Malzahn will have extra motivation because of his time (or lack there of) at Arkansas, or Micheal Dyer will have extra motivation because he hails from Little Rock. It was pointed out yesterday evening that maybe Bobby Petrino has extra motivation because of his tenure at Auburn as offensive coordinator.
In my experience on the field, motivation only helps in preparation. Once you hit the field, skill and talent take over. Motivation is an after thought that only comes up in post game interviews.
This game will come down to defense.
Auburn’s decisive wins have come over Arkansas State and Louisiana-Monroe. Arkansas’ decisive wins have come over Tennessee Tech and Louisiana-Monroe.
Against quality opponents, game for both squads have been close. Auburn has won by an average of 4.25 points when playing a quality opponent.
The danger of a close game with Auburn, is the fact that they possess a powerful running game that has many faces. Whether it’s Cam Newton, Micheal Dyer, Mario Fannin, etc.
The danger for the Tiger’s will be facing Ryan Mallett and Arkansas’ receiving corps, with a secondary that isn’t where Coach Gene Chizik would like them to be.
While Arkansas has it’s troubles offensively, Auburn’s defense has been noted as a defense that doesn’t do much, by way of disguising blitz packages, or zone and man coverages.
If Arkansas’ offense continues to struggle, the pressure will fall directly on the shoulders of the Hogs defense, which has shown that they can indeed shoulder the heaviest of loads.
What the Hogs will have to maintain, is pressure off the edge on Cameron Newton, otherwise he gets what he wants, the outside.
With quarterbacks such as Ryan Mallett, you would send a blitz up the middle, forcing Mallett out of the pocket, his comfort zone, and with Newton you force him to stay in the pocket and make him beat you with his arm, instead of allowing him to run.
This game differs from the Alabama game, in that Arkansas’ defense will have to do something special.
As i mentioned in a previous post, Willy Robinson will more than likely assign a spy to shadow Newton’s every move. With Newton’s speed it will more than likely be Anthony Leon or Jerico Nelson.
Another thing the Hogs will have to do, is swarm to the ball, which they have done very well this season, and CAN NOT arm tackle. With Newton at 6’6″ and 250 lbs, he will run through arm tackles like a bull through a plate glass window.
On the other side of the ball, Knile Davis has shown production and I would like to see him pick up a few more carries. But Petrino should not shy away from Broderick Green, you need a big back who can help wear down a defensive front, in turn slow down the pass rush.
Arkansas’ o-line should definitely keep an eye on Nick Fairley, Auburn’s standout DT. He has been disruptive all season, and shows no signs of slowing down.
As it is every week, one key to a Hogs victory, is keeping Ryan Mallett upright.
With more production from the offense and the defense keeping Cam Newton in front of them, Arkansas will have more than a fighting chance to beat Auburn for the fourth time in five years.
Arkansas has shown the quick strike ability, scoring before everyone has found their seats in almost every game, the key for the Hogs will be to maintain that throughout the game.
Auburn has outscored their opponents 41-13 in the fourth quarter, Arkansas will have to play two halfs and put together a solid performance if they want to stick around in the fourth quarter.
I expect to see the Hogs come out fired up, with another chance to help their cause of getting back to Atlanta, but to do that, they will have to stop Cam Newton.
And according to Ramon Braodway, ” You have to pack your lunch when you go to hit him.”