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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Tigers' secondary braces for Arkansas' aerial attack

I wrote a story for today's newspaper about the challenge Auburn's defense, particularly its secondary, will face this Saturday against quarterback Ryan Mallett and Arkansas. Here's how it starts:

AUBURN, Ala. — The play ultimately was meaningless but still left Auburn cornerback Walt McFadden with a bad memory.

With time running out last week in Knoxville, struggling Tennessee quarterback Jonathan Crompton dropped back and sailed a pass into the arms of receiver Denarius Moore for a touchdown over McFadden as the game clock expired.

It didn’t determine who won, merely making Auburn’s margin of victory six points smaller, but it gnawed at McFadden a day later.

“It was on me,” he said. “The fourth quarter, we started to relax. Like I said, it was a lesson.”

There can be no letup in the secondary if Auburn (5-0, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) is to pass its test Saturday at Arkansas, where it finally matches wits with an offense equally capable of lighting up a scoreboard.

After a year of trying to find the right pieces for his system, Razorbacks head coach Bobby Petrino seems to have found a fit. Arkansas is seventh in the country in total offense (329.6 yards per game) and 17th in scoring offense (35.7 points per game), numbers that rival those of the Tigers under the direction of offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn.

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