The Arkansas Razorbacks snapped their four-game losing streak against Auburn on Saturday.
The Razorbacks’ bad luck this season ended in the fourth quarter of the game when the team scored two touchdowns to pull away from the Tigers.
Auburn helped seal its own fate with two fourth-quarter interceptions and a dismal performance on both sides of the football.
Both teams have struggled in recent weeks and were looking to this game to help turn their respective seasons around.
Arkansas happened to make the most of its personnel changes on the field and managed to come out with a much-needed victory.
Here are the winners and losers from the Week 6 game at Auburn.
Dennis Johnson finally earned a start at running back. He was more than ready for the challenge, having averaged six yards per carry before Saturday’s game.
Johnson has been a consistent performer in Arkansas’ run game all season. He has taken advantage of whatever holes the struggling offensive line has given him.
He is the rare weapon in the Razorbacks offense that can make something out of nothing on a consistent basis.
Johnson rushed for 76 yards and scored two touchdowns. He made the most of his opportunity to start from the very beginning of the game, rushing for 18 yards on his first carry. That was the spark that Arkansas needed to get the game started off right. It is a spark it has sorely lacked all season.
Knile Davis was officially fired during the first quarter of the game against Auburn.
He averaged negative-four yards over three carries. He struggled to make any holes in the Auburn defensive line. He could not take advantage of any opportunities his own offensive line created for him.
Davis performed exactly how he has all season.
Davis has been given every chance to get his game back to the level it was in 2010. Dennis Johnson has been improving steadily and averages longer runs with fewer carries.
Davis was given a few chances in the first quarter and was pulled after a run ended in a seven-yard loss for Arkansas. He did not appear for the rest of the game.
Looks like Davis’ coaches finally got tired of waiting for him to come around.
Tyler Wilson did not have an outstanding game against Auburn. He only passed for 216 yards and had no touchdown passes during the game. But he won in other ways.
He was only sacked once all game and was able to spend more time picking out receivers instead of picking himself off the ground. He also did not throw any interceptions, something he has not accomplished since the Week 1 game against Jacksonville State.
Wilson also had the benefit of not having Paul Petrino screaming in his face every time he stepped off the sidelines. Petrino called plays from the box for the first time this season. Wilson seemed to play with more confidence and appeared more in control than he has since Week 1.
Maybe Petrino should have been moved upstairs sooner.
One of the most criticized elements of the Hogs team this season has been the offensive line. They allowed Louisiana-Monroe to repeatedly pummel Tyler Wilson into the ground, ultimately causing his injury. They have been blamed for the Razorbacks’ inability to establish a run game all year.
Tyler Wilson had plenty of time to throw the football, only getting sacked once. Dennis Johnson was able to establish the run and score two rushing touchdowns.
Maybe the Razorbacks benefited from playing against a struggling Auburn defense. Maybe they perform better with Paul Petrino in the box.
Whatever the reason, this performance by the offensive line will be a huge boost going into next week’s game against Kentucky.
Kiehl Frasier is another player, like Knile Davis, that has been given chance after chance by his coaching staff to make improvements and produce.
The struggling quarterback did not feature for his team during the second half of this ballgame.
It was not entirely his fault.
His offensive line did not offer him much protection, which led to his eighth interception of the season. The line also provided little blocking and kept the Tigers from establishing any kind of a run game.
Clint Moseley, Frasier’s backup, really did not perform that much better. But Moseley did pass for the Tigers’ only touchdown on the day.
That may not sound like much, but today was the day that Coach Chizik ran out of patience with Frasier. That one touchdown pass from a backup is all the vindication he needs for deciding to pull a starter that has not been producing.
John L. Smith is over $40 million in debt. He has a pending bankruptcy case. His brother died less than a month ago. He has drawn the ire of fans and media alike for his bizarre behavior in press conferences, his demeanor on the sideline and his team’s four-game losing streak on the field.
What a huge win this is for him.
When everything is falling apart, any victory is a huge one. His coordinators did well getting their respective squads to perform on the field. The defense forced five turnovers. His offensive line protected his quarterback. His running back established the run.
Everything that has gone wrong for Arkansas all season was as close to right as it could be during this ballgame.
Hopefully, Smith can use this win as a springboard to push Arkansas through its next three games before it faces a ranked opponent again when it faces South Carolina on November 10.
Till then, this victory will help distract Smith from his wounds for at least a little while.