AUBURN — Tank Bigsby rained on Sam Pittman's parade last year.
The Auburn running back went for 146 yards on 20 carries in his breakout game as a freshman, trampling would-be tacklers and leading the Tigers in a dramatic 30-28 win over resurgent Arkansas at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Pittman was the Razorbacks' first-year coach. In his home rematch with Auburn at 11 a.m. Saturday, neutralizing Bigsby is paramount.
"It's going to be very crucial, and we're going to have to tackle him," Pittman said. "As you're watching tape, there were a lot of people that had trouble with him, too. I can just remember from rewatching the game as well from last year, we just couldn't get him on the ground. He has those big, strong, powerful legs."
In the 2020 game, Bigsby had a few memorable runs in which he bounced outside and shook Arkansas defenders. With rainy conditions, his power-running style was effective in breaking tackles. Auburn was able to lean heavily on him.
Bigsby ran for 100 yards in each of Auburn's first three games this year, but Georgia State, LSU and Georgia all limited the sophomore. One of the biggest surprises of the season has been Auburn's recent struggle to develop its run game. But Arkansas has had trouble defending the run in its two-game losing streak. Ole Miss attempted 49 carries and averaged more than 6 yards in its 52-51 win last Saturday.
"We've got to be balanced, though, so we've still got to be able to throw it and do things on the perimeter, but it's not just Tank," Auburn coach Bryan Harsin said Monday. "It's everybody. Everybody on the offensive side of the ball that has to be able to do that: O-line, tight ends, wide receivers, running backs. Everybody's got a piece of the pie when it comes to the run game, and that continues to be something that we've got to focus on."
Pittman called Bigsby one of the best running backs in the nation Wednesday on the weekly SEC conference call.
What's it going to take for the Hogs to slow him down?
"We're going to have to gang tackle him, is what we're going to have to do," Pittman said. "We're going to have to get a lot of guys around him and help each other get him on the ground, because he is that special of a player."