How Arkansas and Auburn match-up at each position

By: Tom Murphy
Published: Saturday, October 21, 2017
Auburn offensive lineman Braden Smith (71) lines up against Mississippi State during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Auburn offensive lineman Braden Smith (71) lines up against Mississippi State during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

Quarterbacks

Jarrett Stidham (108-165-2, 1,510 yards, 8 TDs) had been on a roll since the Clemson game before a rugged outing at LSU last week. Stidham, a transfer from Baylor, is dangerous on keepers with run-pass options and on scrambles. He ranks No. 18 in passing efficiency. Auburn is No. 73 in passing (216.1) and No. 39 in scoring (34.0).

It looks like there will be a second start for 6-7 redshirt freshman Cole Kelley (34-60-2, 386 yards, 4 TD) after a poised but mixed-bag showing last week at Alabama. QB Austin Allen (66-117-4, 850 yards, 8 TDs), is nursing an ailing shoulder. The Razorbacks are No. 81 in passing (206.0) and No. 67 in scoring (28.7).

ADVANTAGE Auburn

Running Backs

Kerryon Johnson (116-660, 13 TDs, 5.7 ypc) has assumed lead tailback duties with Kamryn Pettway (65-215, 3 TDs, 3.3 ypc) slowed by injury. Kam Martin (32-260, 1) has been a sparkplug with 8.1 yards per carry. Chandler Cox runs the H-back spot. The Tigers run an assortment of jet sweeps and edge plays like Arkansas. Auburn ranks No. 23 in rushing (222.4).

It has been tough sledding the past couple of weeks for Chase Hayden (59-284, 4 TDs), Devwah Whaley (59-264, 2) and David Williams(53-240, 5) and the Hogs’ run game. None are on track for a 1,000-yard season. Alabama nullified the screen game; can it work today? Arkansas is No. 69 in rushing (159.0).

ADVANTAGE Auburn

Receivers/Tight Ends

Little Rock’s Will Hastings (16-335, 3) has half as many catches as leading WR Ryan Davis (33-318, 3), but he averages 20.9 yards per catch to Davis’ 9.6. Eli Stove (13-162) burned the Hogs on a jet sweep last year. Nate Craig-Myers (8-158, 1) and Darius Slayton (7-156, 1) contribute. Auburn's 6-5 Sal Cannella (3-31) could be a factor after the dismissal of Kyle Davis (7-210).

The emergence of freshman Jordan Jones (13-200, 2) and junior Brandon Martin (5-49) the past couple of weeks to pair with Jonathan Nance (24-377, 5), Deon Stewart (16-193, 2) and TEs Cheyenne O’Grady (14-98, 1) and Austin Cantrell (8-72) has been welcome. TE Jeremy Patton (2-53) could return from an ankle issue today.

ADVANTAGE Even

Offensive Line

The Tigers’ anchor is right guard Braden Smith, a midseason 2nd team All-American. Smith works beside C Casey Dunn, who has battled an injury, and 5-star RT Darius James. Senior LT Austin Golson is solid, and LG Mike Horton is questionable today. Auburn is No. 45 in total offense (438.6) and No. 116 in sacks allowed (3.14), having given up 11 vs. Clemson.

The reshuffled Hogs front — LT Johnny Gibson, LG Hjalte Froholdt, C Zach Rogers, RG Frank Ragnow, RT Brian Wallace — held the edges slightly better against Alabama but did not provide consistent push or run seams. Gibson (knee) is questionable, which might mean a reset and more Colton Jackson and Paul Ramirez. Arkansas is No. 96 in total offense (365.0) and No. 112 in sacks allowed (3.0).

ADVANTAGE Auburn

Defensive Line

Dontavius Russell (16, 1 TFL) and Derrick Brown (26, 5, 2 sacks) are 310-pound beasts at tackle. Nicked-up Marlon Davidson (20, 4, 2, 1 FR) is one of the nation’s best DEs. Jeff Holland (20, 8.5, 6.5), the sack leader, is a 249-pounder who plays the hybrid ‘Buck’ spot. Nick Coe (16, 3.5 TFL) and Andrew Williams (13) are among the top reserves. Auburn ranks No. 25 against the run (117.7).

McTelvin Agim (21, 4.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks, 3 hurries) is playing through a leg injury. T.J. Smith (11, 3 TFL, 1 sack, 1 FF) has been OK, with backup from Briston Guidry (5, 1 hurry, 1 FR), Jake Hall (5, 1 sack) and Jonathan Marshall (3, 2 hurries). Bijhon Jackson (8, 1 hurry) and Austin Capps (9, 1.5 sacks, 1 PBU) rotate at nose guard. The Hogs are No. 69 against the run (159.0).

ADVANTAGE Auburn

Linebackers

The Tigers’ backers are a little banged up, with WLB Tre’ Williams (29, 2.5 sacks, 1 hurry) questionable. MLB DeShaun Davis (36, 1 sack, 1 PBU) is the tackle leader, followed by SLB Darrell Williams (32, 3 TFL, 2 hurries). The top reserve is Montavious Atkinson (27, 1.5 TFL, 1 sack). Auburn is No. 13 in total defense (298.3) and No. 9 in scoring (15.0).

De’Jon Harris (55, 5 TFL, 1.5 sacks, 2 PBU) and Dre Greenlaw (44, 2 PBU, 2 hurries) are the leaders, along with Dwayne Eugene (24, 5.5 TFL, 2.5 sacks). Harris calls plays and has been steady. Eugene could be an X-factor on the pass rush. Randy Ramsey (13, 2, 1) and Grant Morgan (18, 2 PBU) have helped. Arkansas is No. 56 in total defense (374.3) and No. 105 in scoring (33.0).

ADVANTAGE Even

Secondary

The corners are Carlton Davis (17, 8 PBU) and Javaris Davis (13, 1 INT, 2 PBU) or Jamel Dean (22, 5 PBU), with Daniel Thomas (25, 1 INT, 2 PBU) and Jeremiah Dinson (24, 1.5 TFL) running nickel. Tray Matthews (26, 1 INT) is dinged up. Stephen Roberts (29, 6 TFL) and Nick Ruffin (17, 1 PBU) contribute. Auburn is No. 17 in passing yards allowed (180.6) and No. 22 in pass efficiency.

Safeties Santos Ramirez (29, 1 INT, 4 PBU), Josh Liddell (13, 1 FF) and De’Andre Coley (6) will get a test with Auburn’s run-pass option offense. Good work from Henre’ Toliver (17, 1 INT, 3 PBU, 1 FR) leaves freshman Kamren Curl (25, 4 PBU) as a natural target, but the rookie has held up. The Razorbacks are No. 40 in passing yards allowed (201.3) and No. 69 in pass efficiency.

ADVANTAGE Auburn

Special Teams

Daniel Carlson (14 of 18 FGs, 28 of 28 PATs), Auburn’s career scoring leader, is one of the best PKs ever, and he’s No. 2 in kickoff average (64.86). Ian Shannon (39.8) and Aidan Marshall (39.3) have shared punting duties and the Tigers are No. 115 in net punting (34.8). Noah Igbinoghene (26.5) has sparked kick returns to No. 19. Punt returns are No. 52.

Blake Johnson ranks No. 90 in punting (39.3) and the Hogs are No. 69 in net punting (37.7). Connor Limpert is 2 of 2 on FGs, 12 of 13 on PATs and has 9 touchbacks on 32 kickoffs. DeVion Warren shows promise with a 22.6-yard kick return average, but Arkansas is No. 99 in kickoff returns (18.9) and No. 121 in punt returns (2.0) with what has been a very conservative approach.

ADVANTAGE Auburn

Intangibles

The Tigers are smarting from last week’s blown lead at LSU and the resulting backlash on Coach Gus Malzahn. There is no doubt this series —especially the games at Razorback Stadium — mean a lot to the Fort Smith native Malzahn. His seat has heated up again, so the expectation is the Tigers will be ready to play their best.

Bret Bielema, also occupying a hot seat, has asked the fans to come out, be loud and make a difference in support for the players and to impact Auburn’s presnap communication on offense. The Razorbacks will probably have to play their most efficient game of the year and win the turnover battle to have a chance. Do they have it in them?

ADVANTAGE Arkansas

Discussion

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