In the wilds of the South, wild boars are destroying everything in their path and causing much mayhem to society. On Saturday night in Fayetteville, at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium, Auburn football fans witnessed another set of wild boars cause much mayhem and destruction to their prized football team.
Prior to witnessing Gene Chizik's worse loss as Auburn head coach, things seemed to be on the rebound. Why, it was just a week ago when Auburn coaches had formulated a very effective plan to upset South Carolina. Surely this plan hadn't expired already? Or had it?
Now, in a more hostile environment, and with a better football team on the opposite side of the field, Auburn coaches would again use their new plan in attempt of another upset. This plan, as coaches' saw fit, would include a heaping helping of Michael Dyer, an increased role by supposed third-string quarterback, Kiehl Frazier, and a stingy defense with "take-away fever."
The plan, if used effectively, just might work. Or.....maybe not.
Ranked tenth, just as the Gamecocks were a week ago, the Arkansas players and coaches must have felt their game plan was much better. In the end, a score of 38 - 14 revealed one simple truth: Razorback head coach, Bobby Petrino, did indeed have a better plan and he was simply able to bring more confidence out of his players than did his counterpart on the opposite side of the field.
The coach who possessed the "Coach's Trophy" at the close of last season fell to 1 - 3 against the Arkansas Razorbacks. After the game, Chizik claimed that his players did all the classic things to lose a game. The Auburn head coach mentioned turnovers, dropped balls and bad throws, but after he watches the film, he will surely add more things to that list of classic mistakes.
For a short while, it appeared things just may go Chizik's way as Auburn players seemed to be the ones who held the confidence badge. Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn heaped a large helping of Michael Dyer against the Hogs and it worked..........for a little while.
In the first quarter, Dyer went for a 55 yard touchdown run to give the Tigers an early lead. Dyer would carry the ball a total of 21 times on the day, but would only muster another 57 yards in addition to that long touchdown carry.
With the score knotted at seven, and the Auburn offensive drive stalling, Malzahn launched the second part of his plan via freshman quarterback, Kiehl Frazier and it worked......for a little while.
Frazier ran the ball with "Cam-like" precision, making his way through the Razorback defense several times to pick up a fresh set of downs. With only two ticks remaining on the first quarter clock, Frazier bolted into the end zone from seven yards out to pick up his first touchdown as an Auburn Tiger. It would be the last time Auburn's short-lived plan would find success against the Hog defense.
Petrino's Razorbacks, led by quarterback, Tyler Wilson, would go on to score 31 consecutive points and capture their first SEC victory of the season. Throwing for 262 yards and two touchdowns, Tyler Wilson proved to many why he is one of most efficient, if not the most efficient passer in the SEC. Wilson completed 24 of 36 pass attempts and suffered no interceptions.
Auburn quarterbacks, on the other hand, turned the ball over with regularity. Starting Tiger quarterback, Barrett Trotter completed only 6 of his 19 pass attempts but several of these happened to hit his receivers in a bad place; and that being, the hands! Trotter also suffered an interception when a pass attempt streaked through the hands of receiver, DeAngelo Benton and into the hands of a waiting Razorback defender.
Is Trotter partially to blame for all of the dropped balls? Perhaps Trotter has too much zip and not enough touch? Lately, too many Barrett Trotter passes have ended up on the ground or in the hands of the defense. No one expects Trotter to be Cam Newton but he must find a way to lead the offense more effectively and also, score more second half points.
True freshman, Kiehl Frazier managed to provide a big spark to a very beleaguered Auburn offense with his ability to run. On the other hand, his passing game proved what coaches have said all along; and that is, "he is not ready to take over the offense." Frazier completed all four of his passes, but unfortunately, two of his completions were made by Razorback defenders.
For the entire week preceding the game, Auburn coaches insisted they were going to expand Frazier's role. Perhaps the envelope was stretched a little too far?
On a positive note, the Auburn Tigers racked up a rushing total of 291 yards. Ontario McCalebb rushed the ball 13 times for 91 yards and picked up an additional 28 yards on three catches. All three of Auburn's top rushers, Dyer, McCalebb and Frazier ended the night with good numbers in the run game.
The Tiger defense lined up against Arkansas with a plan to be stingy and to force turnovers. When the limits of the game clock had been reached and time expired once and for all, it was the Razorback defense who had played as stingy as.........well.....hogs.
The Arkansas defense accounted for a total of four interceptions; three of which were accrued in the critical second half of play. Although Auburn managed to put up very respectable numbers on the ground, the Razorback defense controlled the line of scrimmage and ultimately the score of the game.
Part of Auburn's original game plan was to keep the ball longer than its opponent. The Tigers managed to accomplish this goal by possessing the ball 5:26 longer than did Arkansas; however, this was most likely accomplished by the Razorbacks ability to score without needing much time to do so.
At critical moments of the game, with the score still relatively close, Auburn punter, Steven Clark, was able to pin the Razorbacks deep in their own territory. Against South Carolina, this special teams weapon attributed to the victory because the defense played so well. Against Arkansas, the Auburn defense was not able to take advantage of a long field, allowing scoring drives of 71, 80, 65 and 92 yards. This staggering statistic alone exposes nothing new about the Tigers that fans did not already know after witnessing the come back victory against Utah State.
In both losses this season, Auburn has managed to score two first quarter touchdowns, but only one single touchdown in all other quarters combined. Against better teams with better quality defenses, Auburn is struggling offensively.
Many will say it is time for a new quarterback. Take another close look at Auburn's loss to Arkansas and fans will notice that most, if not all, of the veteran players had bad games. Tight end, Phillip Lutzenkirchen, normally a steadfast and mistake free part of the offense, drew two very critical penalties and dropped a pass. One of those penalties, as well as the dropped ball, helped to kill out two different promising Auburn drives that may have resulted in points.
Ultimately, Auburn lost because Arkansas is the better team. Auburn did not help its cause by making many costly mistakes on the offensive side of the ball. Arkansas scored more points last year against Auburn but lost the game. Perhaps the defense played well enough to win but due to the very poor performance by Gus Malzahn's offense, Auburn fans are left only to speculate.
Much credit is due the Arkansas players and coaches. Perhaps Auburn did have the better game plan early on, but it was the Razorbacks who executed their plan more skillfully and exited victorious.