Out last year, Ainge presents new challenge for Arkansas defense Print
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Thursday, 08 November 2007 23:25
NCAAF Headline News

 LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) -Arkansas' win over Tennessee last season was one-sided. In fact, the Razorbacks were so dominant it was easy to forget the absence of Volunteers quarterback Erik Ainge.
Maybe Ainge could have made a difference, maybe not. This year, it shouldn't be an issue. Ainge is set to play.
``We're going to have to get a lot of pressure,'' Arkansas linebacker Weston Dacus said. ``The secondary's going to have to keep fighting.''
The Razorbacks beat the Vols 31-14 last year in a game Ainge missed because of ankle problems. Tennessee couldn't stop Darren McFadden that night, and since McFadden is still at running back for Arkansas, the No. 22 Vols can use a healthy Ainge when they host the Hogs on Saturday night.
``Erik's the leader of our offensive football team,'' Vols coach Phillip Fulmer said. ``We missed him last year. Arkansas did a great job defending us. ... We're glad he's healthy and will be able to play.''
Arkansas' pass defense has been an enigma this year. Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson had a big game in a September win over the Razorbacks. The following week, Kentucky's Andre Woodson helped his team rally past the Hogs.
Against lesser competition, Arkansas rebounded. The Razorbacks allowed 11 yards passing in a win over Chattanooga and intercepted nine passes in a two-game stretch against Ole Miss and Florida International.
Last week, in a 48-36 win over South Carolina, Arkansas allowed Blake Mitchell to throw for 364 yards and two touchdowns.
Arkansas is actually ranked No. 1 in the nation in pass efficiency defense - but in yards allowed per game, the Razorbacks' pass defense is only seventh in the Southeastern Conference.
Jonathan Crompton started at quarterback for Tennessee against Arkansas last November. The Razorbacks pressured Crompton throughout, and he finished 16-of-34 for 174 yards with two touchdown passes and an interception.
``We still had a lot of respect for Crompton,'' Arkansas coach Houston Nutt said. ``Erik Ainge looks like he has probably a little bit more velocity on the ball. ... The challenges are going to be, of course, not giving up big plays to their receivers, trying to get pressure on him and trying to mix that part of the game up.''
Defensive lineman Jamaal Anderson sacked Crompton three times last year. Now Anderson is playing for the Atlanta Falcons, and Tennessee has allowed only three sacks all season.
Ainge has thrown for 238 yards per game this season, third in the SEC.
Dacus is trying not to worry about who is throwing the ball.
``I think that we approach all the quarterbacks the same way,'' the Arkansas linebacker said.
The Razorbacks will likely notice a difference from last year, though. Ainge definitely will.
``Anytime you can't play and you're watching, that's hard,'' Ainge said. ``It's tough, but at the same time I was hobbling around. Maybe if I could have done a better job on one leg, I would have played.''
 

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