FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) -The improvement began for the Arkansas defense against Florida earlier this month.
The Auburn game last week provided additional evidence.
Arkansas' defense isn't on par with some of the best in the Southeastern Conference, but it's playing well enough to keep the Razorbacks in games.
That's quite a change from earlier in the season, when the Razorbacks allowed 101 points in back-to-back losses to Alabama and Texas.
``After the Florida game we felt like we were all getting better,'' defensive back Ramon Broadway said. ``We ... got back to the practice field and we worked hard and started believing and we're going to continue to get better.''
Arkansas held Auburn to 193 yards in a 25-22 victory, the Razorbacks' first big win under coach Bobby Petrino, who took over in December. The final score doesn't tell the whole story. The Razorbacks gave up a touchdown on a kickoff return and took a safety late in the game. Their defense only allowed 13 points and none in the last 27:43.
very much in the game in the fourth quarter before the Gators broke it open with three late touchdowns.
``We had faith in the Florida game and in the games prior, but there was something about this game that we did not want to let get out of our hands,'' Broadway said. ``We just felt like our defense wasn't going to give in in the fourth quarter. Coach Petrino constantly talked about playing for four quarters after the Florida game so that's what we went into this game having on our minds.''
Lineman Adrian Davis led the defense against Auburn. His interception on the final play of the third quarter gave Arkansas great field position. The Razorbacks eventually kicked a field goal that cut their deficit to one, and when running back Michael Smith broke free for a 63-yard touchdown run, Arkansas had a lead it wouldn't relinquish.
Davis also had three sacks - all in the second half.
``It started with our front four,'' Petrino said. ``They have done a nice job of improving on their technique and fundamentals, and keeping their shoulders square at the line of scrimmage, understanding how to stop the run, understanding your responsibilities on how to stop the run. We have done a much better job on our pass rush and getting to the quarterback and putting a (hit) on him.''
started the past two games in his place at nose tackle. Mitchell has returned to practice.
``Ernest is a great guy, a good friend, and a good leader. He's taught me a lot about defensive line,'' Stadther said. ``Getting the starts against Florida and Auburn has been good. I mean, I'm a true freshman; it's a dream to play here. Starting is crazy.''
Broadway, a sophomore, made his first career start last weekend after Jamar Love had his thumb operated on. The Razorbacks intercepted Auburn quarterbacks three times.
Arkansas' effort came with only one disclaimer: Auburn has had its problems offensively.
This weekend's game at Kentucky might provide more of a test, but the Wildcats are limited by injuries. Receiver Kyrus Lanxter is doubtful for Saturday night's game with a sprained knee. Receiver Dickey Lyons Jr. is out for the season with a knee injury.
After beating Auburn, the Razorbacks have plenty of confidence - and perhaps a little more respect.
``I think they've made a lot of progress,'' Kentucky coach Rich Brooks said. ``I think that clearly they're making great strides on defense.''
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