No. 15 Auburn Tigers lost their second game of the season on Saturday, falling 38-14 on the road to the No. 10 Arkansas Razorbacks. The loss drops the Tigers record to 4-2, (2-1 SEC) and marks their first conference loss since losing to Alabama in 2009.
While Auburn is a competitive team in 2011, this year’s version has several flaws, and many of them were exposed on Saturday.
Auburn’s passing attack has been inconsistent this season, and the Arkansas game will definitely go into the negative column when recapping the year. Starting quarterback Barrett Trotter, playing without his top two wide receivers, was largely ineffective. The junior quarterback completed just 7-of-20 passes for 86 yards, throwing one interception.
True freshman Kiehl Frazier saw plenty of action as he continues to assimilate into the Auburn offense, but he was not able to get much going in the passing game either. Frazier attempted only four passes, and two were intercepted by the Razorbacks.
Much was written and said about how other receivers were going to step up for Auburn in the absence of Emory Blake and Trovon Reed, but their replacements failed to accomplish much against Arkansas. No wide receiver caught more than one pass, with Travonte Stallworth’s 44-yard reception being the most notable play.
Tigers running back Michael Dyer fell victim to the Tigers’ passing struggles as the Arkansas defense was able to key on him. Dyer had a strong first quarter but was virtually shut down for the remainder of the game.
The Auburn defense, which seemed to overcome their struggles in a strong effort last week against South Carolina, also had their issues on Saturday. Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson was able to do whatever he wanted, at one point completing 19 consecutive passes.
The Tigers were able to mostly contain Arkansas’ rushing attack, which has been mediocre this season. The only exception was a big one—a 92-yard run by Joe Adams that put Arkansas up 28-14 in the third quarter.
Overall, Saturday’s loss has to serve as a reality check for this season's expectations. Although the Tigers’ talented running game can pile up yards and keep them in games, their passing attack has begun to stall and the defense still has a lot to prove.
Auburn will be a tough opponent for anyone in the SEC, but it appears that winning the SEC West or reaching a BCS game may be a bit too much to ask for.