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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Final: Arkansas 44, Auburn 23

Busy day of writing here, but here's a sneak peak at how tomorrow's story starts:
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — The high noon shootout everyone at Razorback Stadium anticipated Saturday didn't live up to its billing.

One of the gunslingers arrived late.

It took 2½ quarters for No. 17 Auburn's fast-paced offense to show up, but by then the deficit was too large. Arkansas, behind Ryan Mallett's arm, a solid running game and a surprisingly stout defensive effort, had already built an insurmountable 31-point lead in an eventual 44-23 victory, the Tigers' first defeat of the Gene Chizik era.

"We just didn't come out to play today," said running back Ben Tate, who ran for a career-high 184 yards, one of Auburn's few offensive bright spots. "You can't just take a whole half off and think you can come back and beat somebody in the SEC. We just didn't live up to our standards and play the way we normally play."
I'll be brief with some post-game quick hits ...
  • Auburn was a disaster on offense in the first half. Penalties. Drops. Poor clock management. It trailed 27-3 at the break after gaining only 108 yards. "We came out dead," running back Onterio McCalebb said. "It really humbled us."
  • Head coach Gene Chizik summed the game up like this: "You can’t do the things that we did today and win a game against a very, very good team. We did all the classic things that you can’t do, certainly on the road, and certainly in this league."
  • All the mistakes messed with Auburn's preferred pace. It was more like a crawl. "We didn't get any first downs," offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn said. "Usually once we get a first down, that's when our tempo starts, and they did a good job of getting us off the field."
  • Quarterback Chris Todd didn't have a great day, going 15-for-28 for 133 yards. He was sacked three times and faced constant pressure. "A lot of times the quarterback doesn't look good in a certain situation, but a lot of time it has to do with one of the 11 or all of the 11," Malzahn said. "He had a tough day, but he's a tough kid and he'll rebound better because of the experience."
  • Arkansas absolutely rolled on offense, finishing with 495 yards. Auburn gave up 509 to West Virginia earlier this year. Before that, the last time the Tigers have been that bad on defense was the 2006 Capital One Bowl, when Wisconsin gained 548 yards. Put simply: something isn't right about this defense.
  • A look at the disruption stats tells the story. Auburn had one turnovers (a pick by Walt McFadden), one sack and two quarterback hurries Saturday.
  • Here are Arkansas' offensive leaders:
  • Mallett: 24-37, 274, 2 TD
  • Michael Smith: 145 rushing yards, 1 TD
  • D.J. Williams: 6 receptions, 85 yards, 1 TD
  • Here are Auburn's offensive leaders:
  • Tate: 184 yards, 2 TD
  • Terrell Zachery: 2 receptions, 25 yards, 1 rush, 60 yards
  • Darvin Adams: 3 receptions, 24 yards
  • Tommy Trott: 3 receptions, 16 yards
  • A huuuuuuuuge play was Dennis Johnson's 70-yard kickoff return after Auburn had cut the lead to 34-23 at the very end of the third quarter. The Razorbacks would score a touchdown after starting with such good field position, making it a three-score game again. "It was huge," Chizik said. "It was a team loss. I could go to the special teams when the coverages were really good; there were times when the coverages weren’t very good. It only takes one. In that case it did. We had some momentum, and they brought that thing back a pretty good ways. You can look at big plays on defense – not being able to stop the run like we need to, three turnovers, we can’t convert on fourth-and-an-inch. Those are classic things everybody knows."
  • Tate tried to keep positive thoughts afterward: "No one's happy when you lose, but it's how you bounce back. There's been a lot of one-loss teams that go to the SEC championship and go to the national championship. We can still control our own destiny."
  • LT Lee Ziemba had this outlook: "The older guys are going to have to be leaders to these freshmen who haven’t lost yet and use it as a positive. Come back and learn from it. USC gets a freebie every year. We just have to get back to work. The season ain’t over by a longshot."

1 comment:

ATCVX said...

Summed it up perfectly, the offense just didn't show up until midway into the 3rd, but it was too late. Todd looked pretty bad if he hits Zachary for the score it coulda been a different game.

I'm with you though, I thought before this game that our D was going to get some stops, but outside of a few, poor Neiko got picked on & our tackling is still poor.

Hopefully this will be used as motivation & a wake up call to both sides of the ball. Still , 5-1 is a much better position than I thought we would be in at this point in the season.