Auburn (4-1, 2-0 SEC) plays at Arkansas (4-1, 0-1 SEC) Saturday in a game that finds the Tigers trying to slow an offense that ranks No. 1 in the conference in scoring offense, passing offense and total offense.
“You hope they’re getting better every week in terms of trusting each other and relying on each other as a unit,” Chizik said Tuesday.
“I think they are. I think this is going to be a great test because there are going to be some things that happen in this game right now that they’re going to have to overcome in terms of negative things happening. That’s just the pressure this offense is going to put on your defense. I think this is going to be a phenomenal test for our guys.”
Arkansas is averaging 39.4 points per game. The Razorbacks have managed fewer than 38 points in only one game this season, and that was in a 38-14 loss at Alabama.
Auburn is coming off its best defensive performance of the year in a 16-13 victory over No. 10-ranked South Carolina on Saturday.
While the Tigers were winning a defensive struggle in Columbia, S.C., the Razorbacks were involved in a shootout on the road at Texas A&M.
Arkansas trailed by 18 points at one stage of the game, but rallied for a 42-38 victory.
Razorbacks’ quarterback Tyler Wilson threw for 510 yards and three touchdowns.
Auburn defensive coordinator Ted Roof said he had already begun to think about the challenge facing them this week while the Tigers were on the bus leaving South Carolina.
“I saw where the kid had thrown for 510 yards,” Roof said. “That certainly got our attention.”
Without question, Arkansas is first and foremost a passing team. The Razorbacks are averaging 351.8 yards per game passing and 120 yards per game rushing.
Even so, Roof said the Tigers won’t distort their defense to try and stop the passing game.
“It’s certainly a different challenge,” Roof said.
“But, at the same time, the challenge is to get off the field and not allow points. The goals are still the same. The standpoint of what we’ve got to prepare for is going to be different. We’ll have to tweak some things, but stay within what we do. We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel to play this week to play Arkansas.”
Even so, the players say they like the challenge of playing a wide-open passing team like the Razorbacks.
“It’s exciting in a way, because you’re worried about your pass rush and this and that,” said Auburn defensive tackle Jeffrey Whitaker.
“It’ll be tough if they start clicking on third downs. That’s when it’s going to be tough, but the deal is, Arkansas still is going to try to establish a running game. The deal is to stop it and make them one-dimensional, which they showed you that they don’t mind being. So it’s going to be a tough challenge.”
Auburn’s defensive backs can’t wait.
“It gives us a chance to showcase our abilities,” said Auburn cornerback T’Sharvan Bell.
“It’s going to be everything that we want. This is what you come to Auburn for as a defensive back — to guard the best. I think they have the best group of receivers in this league. It’s definitely going to be a challenge for us as a secondary. But we ain’t backing away from no challenge. We’re going to go into Arkansas with full confidence, they’re going to expect to win, we’re going to expect to win.”
Charles Bennett covers Auburn University sports for The Star. Follow him on Twitter @AUTigers_Star