Nov. 3, 2013
Auburn defense swarms Arkansas running back during last Saturday's 35-17 Tiger victory (Todd Van Emst photo)
By Phillip Marshall
AUBURN, Ala. - At least half-dozen Auburn players limped off the field at one time or another during Auburn's 35-17 victory over Arkansas on Saturday. But all of them were back at practice Sunday.
Cornerbacks Jonathon Mincy and Chris Davis, defensive ends Dee Ford and Carl Lawson, linebacker Anthony Swain and safety Ryan Smith all left the game for varying amounts of time. Defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson said Sunday he expects them all to be ready to play when the No. 7 Tigers (8-1, 4-1) got to Knoxville on Saturday to play Tennessee (4-5, 1-4).
"I don't think anybody is going to be out," Johnson said. "We may have some limited practice, but I really don't think we'll know until we get a report on treatments tomorrow."
Swain's departure sparked some controversy, fueled by ESPN announcer Matt Millen saying he was "guilty as charged" of faking an injury.
After Arkansas used its version of the swinging gate play to convert a fourth down on a pass to the Auburn 2-yard line, Swain began to walk gingerly back across the field before dropping to the ground. He was attended to be trainers on the field and on the sideline and did not return to the game.
"I'm in the press box," Johnson said. "I was looking at the bench for personnel. I did not see it, frankly. Once I graded the film, he got rolled up over on the sideline and was slow getting up. That's all I could see."
Swain was still limping during Sunday's practice.
"He's a little sore," Johnson said. "He's like about eight of them - strains, sprains, bruises. ... It's about the first time we've gotten through a game and not had somebody that won't play next week."
Johnson dismissed media chatter about Swain and whether he faked an injury.
"College football is one of the biggest industries in America," Johnson said. "A lot of people are making money that aren't players or coaches. That's what you are going to have. ... You have to realize about 40 percent of them aren't football players and they never played the game. They are there for entertainment. I haven't paid much attention to it."
Arkansas rushed for 222 yards and held the ball for more than 35 minutes. Johnson said his defense had issues with "formation adjustment."
"Their formations didn't change, but what they'd been doing was give you a formation and check on the sideline to get to the best play," Johnson said. "If they checked, we were going to check. A lot of our stuff was based on that.
"They did more shifting and snap the ball against us, a lot more formation movement, resetting tight ends, cross motion coming across the backfield. Our adjustments at time weren't clean. They were able to get on the edge and get some outside runs. Inside runs sometimes weren't gapped up right."
The Tigers stood tall in the red zone, including mounting a goal-line stand when Arkansas had first-and-goal at the 4 late in the second quarter. But Johnson wasn't satisfied.
"We had 10 possessions," Johnson said. "We get three takeaways, get a goal-line stand, we give up one touchdown from 13 yards out (after an 87-yard kickoff return), so we give up one touchdown drive the whole night. There were too many plays in between there we just weren't real clean on."
More from Johnson:
On defensive tackle Angelo Blackson
"One guy that didn't show up in the stats but I thought played extremely physical was Blackson. We have what you call terminators and determinators. A lot of time he was the determinator. He kind of forced the play. He didn't have a lot of sexy stats, but he played really well."
On linebacker JaViere Mitchell making two stops in goal-line stand
"Javy starts on our goal-line package. We had two snaps of it. You hardly ever play it, but when you do, it has to be played right. He made two great plays down there, the first one especially. He came over the top and if he doesn't hit that running back he might have squirted into the end zone."
On Auburn's success in the red zone
"These players have played in pressure situations and played pretty well every week. When their backs are against the wall, they've played with a lot of poise and toughness. We spend a lot of time in the red zone in practice and in goal line. I think it gives the player a little more feeling of confidence that they can handle it."
Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow Marshall on Twitter: