WarRoomEagle (College and Magnolia):
So Arkansas had quite a disappointing year last year, but things seemed to really improve over the last few games. Were there any significant scheme changes that enabled this or were the players just getting comfortable with the new system? Do you have any other opinions about where the improvement came from?
Josh (Arkansas Fight):
They really used the same schemes later in the year, but I would say it seemed like the players were more comfortable. Brandon Allen being injured played a large factor where they said he was only practicing a couple days per week. Its just hard for an offense to get much going when the QB is not able to be out there much. The offensive line had some changes throughout the season where the two freshmen Dan Skipper and Denver Kirkland moved in to the starter spots at Guard. On defense there was not really much improvement from the beginning of the season to the end, and is more than likely the reason the DC moved on.
What should we expect to see when Arkansas has the ball? I assume they will still use plenty of tight ends and backs. Is there a play or series of plays that you could call the Razorbacks' "go-to" plays? What about a big "home run" play that Auburn should watch out for?
Should expect to see the usual multiple TEs with a lot more 1 back than last season. Kiero Small graduating left that position without a guy that can be the true wrecking ball. There are a few guys that can fill that role but I feel like they will use more 1 back with an H back, specifically AJ Derby. I think he will be involved in the passing game early to get the Auburn defense backed off of the LOS some. In spring he was involved in a playaction play where he ran a wheel route for a big play several times. I can see that as being attached to the first drive in a series of inside power to Williams, a couple runs by Collins on the zone stretch, and then playaction. As far as their go to plays, what they have shown in practices and in the spring were using a lot of bunch formations, mostly tight to the LOS. Out of that Chaney would call several different concepts, like spot, snag, and verticals.
Arkansas got a new defensive coordinator this offseason. Who is he, where did he come from, and what is he known for? How will he deploy the Hawgs defense to slow down the Tigers' offense?
Robb Smith came to Arkansas after a season in the NFL under his old boss at Rutgers. (Greg Schiano) Schiano's defenses at Rutgers were highly ranked and use a 4-3 over with some under concepts. Smith adapted his style somewhat but still has an aggressive blitzing, press coverage defense. Honestly, I am as curious as Auburn fans are to see what he actually calls on gameday. At Rutgers they did not play many teams that run a similiar style to what Auburn does, there were a few examples of pass heavy teams like Syracuse, and a Louisville team under Charlie Strong that combined I formation with some spread concepts. Overall what his scheme will be is an unknown. From spring and fall practice I think you can expect to see linebackers playing at the LOS, safety blitzes from the edge, and an in your face press coverage.
Who would you say is Arkansas' best weapon on offense? Which player creates the most havoc on defense? How might the Arkansas game plan give these two players a chance to succeed?
Alex Collins would still be the best all around weapon on offense for the Hogs. He has put on some weight which will help him on the inside the tackle runs, and to break a few more tackles. He is not a burner who will outrun the entire defense, but he has some incredible moves in the hole and vision to cutback. His skills are suited for zone running plays, where he is left one on one with a lb or safety. On the D it would have to be Alan Turner. he led the team in tackles last season which most would look at as a negative when your safety is making that many plays. He should benefit the most from Robb Smiths style than anyone due to the fact that he will be asked to blitz and use his athleticism attacking the run game. Watch for Turner flying into the box late before the snap on 1st and 2nd downs to come off the edge and disrupt Inside Zone/Zone read like FSU attempted.