Behind Enemy Lines: Auburn-Arkansas series preview with Connor Goodson of Razorbacks Wire

The time has finally come, Auburn baseball is set to face its first SEC opponent of the season. First up is the team that knocked out the Tigers in last season’s College World Series, the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Auburn did not have much luck with the Razorbacks last season, as Arkansas took two of three from the in-season series at Plainsman Park, and defeated the Tigers, 11-1, to end their season in Omaha.

Arkansas lost many pieces of last season’s roster to the MLB draft, but still have enough tools to be considered one of the best team’s in the country, as they enter the series with a No. 6 ranking.

In an effort to get to know Auburn baseball’s weekend opponent, we crossed enemy lines to get an in-depth scoop as to what to expect out of Arkansas from Connor Goodson of Razorbacks Wire. Who is the ace? Who is Arkansas’ version of Justin Kirby? All of those answers, and more, are about to be revealed.

Here is this week’s edition of Behind Enemy Lines with Connor Goodson of Razorbacks Wire.

Finding the next man

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With Connor Noland’s graduation and Jaxon Wiggins’ injury, who has emerged as the ace of the weekend rotation?

Injuries have decimated the Arkansas bullpen this year, and Dave Van Horn is still searching for a dominant ace with what he has left. After Wiggins went down it looked like Brady Tygart could be that guy, but he got hurt and won’t be back until next month. After Tygart went down, Koty Frank was dominant until he suffered a season-ending lat injury.

There just hasn’t been a consistent or reliable guy emerge since those injuries, but Van Horn is still searching. He changed the rotation once again for this weekend, so hopefully we’re able to get more clarity after this weekend.

Swinging a hot stick

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What has been your assessment of the team ahead of SEC play?

Considering all of the adversity this team has had to overcome with injuries, I think it’s been a very solid start to the season. I’d put the bats in Arkansas’ lineup against virtually any other lineup in the country. The offense has been consistently impressive, but the pitching is a major concern because of those key injuries.

We're not so different, you and I

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Auburn has been known to be a “come from behind” team all season. How often has Arkansas had to fight off comebacks this season?

Arkansas has had 4 different games where you could consider they held off a comeback attempt to win. Most recently was last Friday in their 7-4 win over Louisiana Tech. They were up 5-0 early before Tech made it a 6-4 game in the span of 2 innings.

An added bonus

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Like Auburn with Justin Kirby, Arkansas has added a transfer force at the place with Jared Wegner. How much of an asset has he been for the Razorbacks this season?

Jared Wegner has been the main engine behind Arkansas’ high-powered offense this season. He’s hitting .387 with a team-high 29 RBIs and 8 homeruns. He could make a serious case for being one of the best hitters in the country if he continues this form throughout SEC play.

Can you Diggs it?

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Who are other bats in the Razorback lineup that Auburn fans need to be aware of?

Kendall Diggs is the Robin to Wegner’s Batman, even though Diggs has played the hero with two dramatic walk-offs already this season. Jace Bohrofen holds the highest on-base percentage out of anyone on the team. Tavian Josenberger, Brady Slavens and Peyton Stovall are all three very consistent producers at the plate for the Hogs as well.

Strong relief

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What does Arkansas need to do in order to earn a series win over Auburn at home?

For Arkansas to win this weekend they really just need to have some consistency from their bullpen. The offense is more than capable of keeping them in any game, for the most part, but they need to be able to get some help from their pitchers more often. If the Arkansas pitchers have a good weekend, then the Hogs should be able to have a lot of success.

Hogs on top

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How do you see this weekend’s series shaking out?

With it being a home series in Baum Stadium I think Arkansas wins the weekend 2-1, but I do think Sunday will be the deciding game. The step up in competition combined with Arkansas’ bullpen question marks makes this a close matchup. Ultimately, I think Arkansas’ bats give them the edge and the series.

Story originally appeared on Auburn Wire