By J.M. Comer
“How can Arkansas be 0-2 in the SEC right now? With Darren McFadden and Felix Jones in the backfield no less. There is no way that they can go down 0-3 in the SEC.”
Those are the words that keep popping in my head when I start to ponder on this weekend as our Auburn Tigers travel to Fayetteville to fight those Razorbacks.
But I have full confidence that Auburn can beat anyone in the country right now — on an opponent’s home field if need be. It’s heady times for us Tiger fans. These Tigers have tasted Gator meat and have developed a craving. Sure we have holes to fill in the defense. Freshmen all over the place. But we have Brad Lester plugged back into a increasingly dangerous backfield. And most important — our team has confidence and momentum heading into the game this weekend. Our Road Warrior Brandon Cox leads the charge. War Eagle, sir. War Eagle indeed.
Saturday night has the feeling of being an SEC slug-it-out-’til-the-end fest: Pound it up the middle and see which defense cracks first.
Arkansas has got to be desperate, so it looks to be close. Auburn 20 Arkansas 17 will be the final score as the dust clears.
But it is reports like this from The Huntsville Times on Tuesday that have me sweating:
[Darren] McFadden doesn’t carry the load alone. Junior Felix Jones, an All-American kick returner as a freshman, has rushed for 631 yards and five touchdowns on just 60 carries. [– Blogger’s Note: What is that? An average of little more than 10 yards per carry? Lord help us!]
“He’d be starting at 11 other SEC schools,” [Auburn defensive coordinator Will] Muschamp said.
With that duo leading the way, Arkansas averages 338.4 yards per game on the ground, second only to Navy among NCAA Division I-A teams.
[– BN: Oh poopie.]
To have a chance to win, Muschamp says, Auburn’s defense must slow the McFadden-Jones express.
“Last year, we tried to outnumber them in the box,” Muschamp said. “They got a hat on everybody, and if they make one guy miss, you are in trouble. We’ve got to do a great job of getting off blocks, having great effort. We have to tackle well.”
The Razorbacks threw only 10 passes in handing Auburn its first loss last season. It was a long and hard day for Muschamp, who was in his first Auburn season.
Mr. Phillip Marshall’s Tracking the Tigers breaks down the running plays from last year. It’s a long, frightening litany of rushing attempts.
Insane Hog Callers and the Boggy Creek Creature
My lovely wife makes fun of me about this, but I’m absolutely fascinated by Razorback fans. I want to some day go to a game in Fayetteville when Auburn is visiting and see the thousands of fans scream the “Woooooooooo, Pig! Sooie!” cheer. It’s second to “War Eagle!” as far as the best cheer in the SEC, in my opinion.
I made the long trip down last year to Auburn from Maryland to see the Arkansas game. (In case you were wondering we have Lincoln Financial games up here in the mid-Atlantic too, but the games are yawnfests-a-rama-rama like Maryland vs. NC State. And the broadcast team in the booth? Don’t ask.)
I sat behind the visitors section in Jordan-Hare that day. What an interesting bunch of fans. But the cheer, that “Pig! Sooie!” cheer. It’s just so impressive to me. When you come back home and try to explain it to friends and family and then re-enact it in the living room, yes, you will look like an idiot. But when there are thousands of insane hog callers, it looks and sounds pretty damn cool to me.
I haven’t spent too much time around them, but my first impression of Razorback fans was at that game last year. A woman I met in line in her 80s made the trip from Fort Smith with her husband to see her Hogs. She had made a crocheted Razorback “Hog Hat” that she made herself and she was cute as a bug’s ear. Her husband had a old coaches track jacket that was from the 1970s or something with a bunch of Hog buttons all over the front, old buttons from when the Razorbacks were a force in the Southwest Conference. Nothing was going to ruin their day. Both of them were the eternal optimists and complemented me on Auburn’s team, campus and the pre-game spectacle. I thought, “I hope I can be like them when I’m that age.”
Our Tigers crumbled that afternoon, ripped of a No. 2 ranking. The sun began its dip to the West. Another day on this earth slowly began to end. I felt older. I thought of my long trip back home. And then I thought of that older couple and how sweet the win must have been for them as their Hogs celebrated in our stadium. “Screw that old hag,” I mumbled, flipping my program over my back into the trash bin. (I’m kidding about that part.)
But more than anything my interest in Razorback fans and Arkansas comes from my love of a horrible movie that Mystery Science Theater 3000 skewered and roasted so, so well: “Boggy Creek II: And the Legend Continues.” It’s a movie about a University of Arkansas professor and his students that decide to go on a weekend trip to study the legend of the Boggy Creek Creature. Horror (and laughs) ensue. Charles B. Pierce, an Arkansas Renaissance man, was the main actor, director, producer and writer for this movie and the original movie “The Legend of Boggy Creek.” I’ve seen this episode of MST3K at least 15 times. Thank you YouTube for helping us love and laugh … again:
What do you mean you don’t know about the Boggy Creek Creature?!?!? (Also known as the Fouke Monster.)
Educate yourself! It could save your life someday if you take a wrong turn at Booger Hollow, near Texarkana. You think a Sasquatch is tough? How about a swamp Sasquatch — a backwater Gigantopithecus blacki — downstream from Oklahoma’s chicken farm ammonia flows and upwind from the chemical plumes of Houston. Think about the product of that environment, the blood-lusting mutant incubated in the swamp heat.
It would give the mysterious squalling, clay-dirt scratching White Thang of Happy Hollow, Ala., a run for its money. (Maybe Uncle J. Henderson or our West Coast correspondent B.D. “Almighty” Williams will tell you about Alabama’s creature as Halloween nears.)
To learn more about the Arkansas creature when visiting Fouke, Ark., stop by Smokey Crabtree‘s Two-Books Bookstore, Fouke Monster Souvenirs & Used Books Museum. Soooooooie! That’s some good readin’.