Tom Murphy is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of Louisiana Tech University, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 football poll.
CB Hines won't go to opener
Arkansas defensive coordinator Robb Smith directs cornerback Will Hines (9) during practice Thursday, March 20, 2014, at the UA practice field in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema said Thursday he isn't concerned about cornerback depth entering the season opener at Auburn, even with senior Tevin Mitchel sidelined by a hamstring problem and junior Will Hines not on the travel roster.
Bielema said Hines, a seven-game starter last year, had not progressed as the coaches wanted coming out of spring ball and that he was not in the two-deep.
"He not only is not making the trip, he probably, right now, I suggested he take a redshirt year to get everything in order, get more in line with what we're asking people to do," Bielema said.
Mitchel is expected to be out a "minimum of two to three weeks" with the hamstring injury he suffered in camp after returning from shoulder surgery, Bielema said.
Asked if he was concerned about the depth at corner, Beielma said, "not at all."
"You've got Jared Collins," Bielema said. "I think everybody's losing sight that Carroll Washington, Jared Collins have played a lot of football. They're our two best corners, hands down, right now and have been all camp."
Bielema said he didn't want Hines to be the Hogs' fifth or sixth cornerback and waste a year.
"I'd rather have him develop and do what we're asking him to do on a daily basis," he said. "If we could get him back for another two years, that would be awesome."
Hines posted on his Twitter account that he would be home in Waco, Texas, this weekend.
Three Arkansas defensive linemen and their position coach Rory Segrest will have homecomings of sorts Saturday at No. 6 Auburn.
Segrest spent time as a graduate assistant at Auburn, and Razorbacks defensive linemen Trey Flowers, JaMichael Winston and Darius Philon are Alabama natives who are expected to start.
Flowers said he expects more than 60 family members and friends to attend the game.
"Hopefully I'll get all of them tickets and show out in front of them," Flowers said.
Flowers "showed out" the last time he played in Jordan-Hare Stadium, racking up 3 1/2 sacks for 43 yards in losses as part of an eight-sack game for Arkansas, which prevailed 24-7 in 2012.
Philon and Winston, both from Vigor High in Prichard, Ala., look to start on the same front four for the first time since high school.
"My intensity is going to be up extra high," Philon said.
Many observers noted the irony in Arkansas converting a fourth down on a "swinging gate" formation against Auburn last year, a formation Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema claimed was left off the Tigers' game tape sent to the Hogs last year.
Observers also noted an Auburn defender appeared to fall on purpose with an "injury" in the end zone to stop the clock, a tactic Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn claimed other teams had used against his hurry-up offense.
Both coaches were asked if they expected Arkansas to have a swinging gate play in their arsenal this week.
"I think you've got to be prepared for everything," Malzahn said. "He's a very good coach. Look at his track record. He's always been fairly aggressive. The first game? We've got to be prepared for everything."
Bielema said the swinging gate play, in which four of the seven men on the line are positioned well away from the football, was used last year as a way for walk-on Brian Buehner to get in the action as a senior. Buehner completed a fourth-and-2 pass to Austin Tate for 7 yards to the Auburn 2 on the final play of the third quarter, setting up Kiero Small's touchdown on the next snap.
Auburn officials will ask for a moment of silence prior to kickoff Saturday in memory of former Tigers Philip Lutzenkirchen and David Langner.
Lutzenkirchen, a popular fullback on the 2010 national championship team, died June 30 at age 23 while riding as a passenger in a vehicle that was involved in a drunk driving accident. Langner, known for returning two blocked punts for touchdowns in the fourth quarter of Auburn's 17-16 victory over Alabama in 1972, died in April from cancer.
Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn said on Wednesday's SEC teleconference he would wear a bracelet honoring Lutzenkirchen.
The Auburn staff is dotted with coaches who have ties to Arkansas, including Coach Gus Malzahn, a Fort Smith native and former Razorbacks offensive coordinator.
Running backs coach Tim Horton played for the Hogs in the late 1980s and was on the staffs of Houston Nutt and Bobby Petrino from 2007-12.
Defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson held the same role at Arkansas for about three weeks in the winter of 2008 under Bobby Petrino.
Offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee, a backup quarterback at Arkansas (2002-04), was an offensive graduate assistant for Malzahn at Arkansas in 2006 after playing for him at Shiloh Christian High School in Springdale.
Offensive line coach J.B. Grimes, a native of Clarendon, played at Henderson State and began his coaching career in the Arkansas high school ranks.
Gus knows Korliss
Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn, who was head coach at Arkansas State in 2012, is well aware of former Osceola High School standout Korliss Marshall, the Hogs tailback.
"We recruited him when I was at Arkansas State ... and we know a lot about him," Malzahn said. "I got a chance to watch him in person on a Friday night, and you could really tell that he had a special type talent. He can really run, and he's a strong runner, too."
Arkansas has a 94-22-4 (.800) record in season openers, with victories in 15 of its past 16 games. The lone loss in that period was a 50-14 setback to Southern California at Razorback Stadium on Sept. 2, 2006. The Hogs have won seven consecutive season openers.
Sports on 08/29/2014