Auburn Football: Winners and Losers from the Week 6 Game vs. Arkansas
Auburn's loss to Arkansas was eye-opening to Auburn fans and to any college football observer. It wasn't eye-opening in a good way, either.
There was a smither of blind hope remaining among the Auburn faithful that the 2012 season could still be salvaged after a 1-3 September.
Those hopes fell to the ground faster than one of Wile E. Coyote's boulders he uses to try to squash the elusive road-runner.
Here is Auburn's winner and losers from its revealing performance in Week 6. Yes, we were only able to find one winner.
Loser: Scot Loeffler's Job Security
Shanna Lockwood-US PRESSWIRE
We learned that Auburn's offense is bad with or without Kiehl Frazier at quarterback. This Auburn offense is historically bad.
Justin Lee of The War Eagle Reader had some interesting stats and comparisons of recent unsuccessful offensive coordinators for Auburn.
Through five games in 2012, Auburn is averaging 15.4 points per game. In 2008 under Tony Franklin, Auburn averaged 20.8 points per game in its first five games. In 2003, Auburn averaged 24.8 points per game in the same span.
Auburn's 302.4 yards per game average in 2012 also is worse than all three of those seasons.
Despite a transition to a pro-style offense, an Auburn offense with fairly decent talent should not be ranked 117th in total offense after its first five games.
Gene Chizik agrees.
Chizik: "It was a completely unacceptable offensive performance all the way around."— Justin Hokanson (@JHokanson) October 6, 2012
Serious questions should be asked among the decision-makers at Auburn if Loeffler should finish out the 2012 season in his current role.
Loser: Quarterback Shuffle
QB Clint Moseley in the second half against Arkansas. Photo via Todd Van Emst/Auburn Athletics
In a sign of desperation, second-string QB Clint Moseley began the second half under center in lieu of QB Kiehl Frazier, who had started the first five games of the 2012 season.
Throughout the spring, summer and the start of fall camp, Auburn coaches heaped praise on Kiehl Frazier's adaptation to the new style of offense and used the phrase "the future" to describe the sophomore.
Then the Auburn coaches pull him while he is having his best passing performance of the season. Through these eyes, it looked like more of a desperate attempt to save the offensive coordinator's job than trying to get the offense going.
In the first half, Frazier was 9-for-14 with 118 yards and one interception. When given protection, Frazier was accurate and distributing the ball to different receivers than he had in the previous four games.
Don't misunderstand, Frazier was nowhere near perfect. He was sacked four times and was slow in making decisions. The same habits he has had all year were still evident when he was watching the rush and not progressing through his reads.
He single-handedly took Auburn out of field-goal position when he took a sack late in the second half. Instead of a 39-yard field-goal attempt for the near perfect Cody Parkey, it turned into a 55-yard field goal attempt.
Maintaining a young QB's confidence is a tricky thing to do. The offense does not perform well whether the man taking snaps is named Frazier, Moseley or Wallace.
The worst thing that could have happened to Kiehl Frazier's maturation is being benched to start the second half after a strong first-half throwing the ball.
Shanna Lockwood-US PRESSWIRE
Last week, Auburn fans were able to say, "Thank goodness for Arkansas" when it came to turnover margin rankings. Arkansas was last nationally in the category after Week 5. Auburn was ranked 117th.
This week, there is a new team in the national cellar. It's your Auburn Tigers.
Auburn turned the ball over five times on Saturday. Three of those turnovers were interceptions and two of them were fumbles.
The Auburn offense isn't good when it holds on to the ball. It's even worse when it turns the ball over.
We learned why Mike Blakely has not been getting any carries since his fumble against ULM. After a costly fumble on Saturday, do not be surprised if he doesn't see the field for the rest of the season in an important situation.
Auburn's offensive leader Emory Blake also coughed the ball up after a catch. Both of the fumbles came in Auburn territory where the Auburn defense had to work on a short field.
Kiehl Frazier threw one interception while Auburn was moving the ball at the end of the first half. Clint Moseley's two interceptions came in or near the Auburn red zone.
Loser: Offensive Line Progression
John Reed-US PRESSWIRE
The youth of Auburn's offensive line was highlighted against Arkansas on Saturday. After allowing only four sacks against one of the top offensive lines in the country in LSU, Auburn allowed its QB to be sacked eight times against Arkansas.
Prior to facing Auburn, Arkansas had only recorded seven sacks the entire year.
Some of the blame can be placed on the quarterback for that alarming number, but ultimately the offensive line will get the fingers pointed at them. All of the sacks for Arkansas resulted in a six-yard or more loss.
“We didn’t play as a group today,” right guard Chad Slade said. “The communication was terrible. As a unit, this is the worst game we’ve played so far.” (via Aaron Brenner, Columbus Ledger-Enquirer)
After a step forward against LSU, the Auburn offensive line took a big step back on Saturday.
Loser: The Fans
Shanna Lockwood-US PRESSWIRE
The picture to the left wasn't selected to highlight Tre Mason's running prowess. Look at the empty bleachers in the background.
Auburn fans expected a much stronger performance from their Tigers after coming off of a bye week and playing against a team that had given up 58 points the week prior. After all, Auburn was coming off of its best game of the year against LSU just two weeks ago.
Instead, 85,813 people (probably 80,000 or so Auburn fans) witnessed an unprepared and an uninspired team take the field against the Razorbacks. After a Mike Blakely fumble early in the fourth quarter, Auburn fans headed for the exits to drown their sorrows or beat the traffic.
Gene Chizik did not blame them. “The bottom line is,” Chizik said, “the Auburn fans and the Auburn family did not deserve this today, and I apologize to anybody who came to the game to watch it.” (via Aaron Brenner, Columbus Ledger-Enquirer)
Winner: More Receivers
Trovon Reed runs after a catch in the second half. Photo via Todd Van Emst/Auburn Athletics
It was quite the accomplishment to find a winner from this game against Arkansas. Do we get a cookie? Probably not.
A bright spot in Saturday's loss was that the wide receivers responded to Gene Chizik's challenge to play better. After Quan Bray's suspension, the other receivers had no choice but to step up.
The one blemish came from the leader of the group, Emory Blake. Blake had a costly fumble in the first half after catching a pass from Kiehl Frazier.
Chizik on WRs: "They've gotta play better. They've got to catch the ball. That whole group from top to bottom has to step it up."
— Aaron Brenner (@wareagleextra) October 2, 2012
Ten different Auburn players caught a pass on Saturday. Blake led the group with 10 catches, 118 yards and one TD.
Travante Stallworth and Trovon Reed added two catches a piece.
Blake and Quan Bray were head-and-shoulders above the other receivers in terms of production. With Bray being suspended this week, the receivers had no choice but to step up their game.