AUBURN, Ala. — When he was being recruited, Fort Smith, Ark., native Kodi Burns felt some pressure to attend his home-state school.
He picked Auburn, but every year’s matchup with the Razorbacks is special for him.
“It’s pretty important to me being from there,” the quarterback-turned-wide receiver said. “I always love to beat them, but I love to beat any team. It would be good to go out with a win my senior year.”
Four current Tigers hail from Arkansas: Burns, left tackle Lee Ziemba, running back Mike Dyer and tight end Dakota Mosley.
Dyer, the No. 1 recruit in the state last year out of Little Rock, whose decision came down to Auburn and Arkansas, said he knows “probably the whole (Razorbacks) team.”
“It’s a big game, but you play normal,” he said. “It’s always fun to play against someone that you know, and it’s, ‘I grew up with him.’”
Ziemba, a Rogers, Ark., native, doesn’t have many ties to the state anymore. His parents moved to Nashville after he graduated high school, so he rarely goes back.
“I know just as many people who play for Georgia or LSU as at Arkansas,” he said. “Coaches have changed up there. It’s not like it was.”
Auburn continues to make inroads in the state where offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn gained his reputation as an up-tempo guru.
Kiehl Frazier, a dual-threat quarterback from Springdale, Ark., committed to Auburn in May. He is the No. 2 recruit in the state.
Malzahn didn’t sound thrilled with Tuesday’s practice, calling the effort OK. Perhaps that applied to only the offense.
“He’s on the offensive side of the field, so I don’t know how his practice went over there,” linebacker Josh Bynes said. “But defensively, we did pretty good.”
Bynes said the defense did “better at communicating and trying to pick up their routes and trying to dictate how they run their routes in this space or that space,” which will be crucial when the Tigers face Arkansas’ offense, ranked second in the SEC to Auburn’s.
Malzahn, meanwhile, said there was some carryover on the offensive side from Saturday’s last-second win against Kentucky.
“I have extremely high expectations,” he said. “We took a lot of emotional energy out of Saturday’s game, so we got to find a way. And our guys will. We’ll come back tomorrow, ready to go.”
No holds called
Told that the offensive line hasn’t been flagged for a holding penalty since the Clemson game three-and-a-half weeks ago, Ziemba knocked on the arm rests of the wooden chair he sat on.
The Tigers’ line reached a low point against Clemson, getting flagged four times for holds. Since then, there have been none, although Auburn’s linemen haven’t been conscious of it.
“You know how to block somebody,” he said. “You’ve been doing it every day of your life since you showed up on campus, and you just try to put yourself in position. If you’re in good position … you’re not going to get called for holding. When you take a bad step and a guy beats you, or you get your hands outside and the guy gets his hands in your chest, that’s when you get called for holding.
“We’re trying to not get beat; we’re not trying to not get called for holding.”
WR DeAngelo Benton was on a crutch at the athletics complex Tuesday. Benton injured his left ankle in the Kentucky game. Head coach Gene Chizik called him “day-by-day.” … Redshirt freshman Clint Moseley is mimicking Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett on the scout team this week.