After a disappointing trip to Aggieland, the Razorbacks try to regroup this week as they go on the road to face the Auburn Tigers (1-3, 0-2). The 11:00 kickoff will be televised by ESPN2.
Same song, second verse. The 58-10 beat down at the hands of Texas A&M Saturday was not a surprise to anyone, except maybe Las Vegas, who only had the Aggies favored by 13 ½.
While the Hogs offense did move the ball pretty well at times, turnovers (still last 120th nationally) and missed red zone opportunities plagued the Razorbacks all day.
On defense, the matchup was just historically bad, with this flailing Razorback unit looking helpless to stop Johnny Manziel from running away, around and through them en route to 557 total yards – a new SEC single game record.
What this squad could use is a big shot of confidence only gained by winning and having success against an inferior offense. Hog fans, let us introduce you to the 2012 Auburn Tigers.
Now, given where we are, we’re not stupid enough to be calling for a win here (or even a cover for that matter). We subscribe to the mantra “Don’t catch falling knives,” and the Hogs are the sharpest piece of cutlery in the NCAA ranks right now.
What we are saying is that the matchup this week is not a bad one for Arkansas – and here’s why.
The Tigers are led by Gene Chizik (31-13, 4th year), who is proving to the Auburn faithful everyday what kind of coach he is without Cam Newton in his back pocket. Chizik is under heavy fire after their 1-3 start, and the natives are beyond restless.
We certainly don’t want Gene to go anywhere…we like him just where he is. He has spent all week talking up the wounded Hogs.
“I know that on the outside looking in, Arkansas hasn’t done exactly what they wanted to do and what their expectations were at the beginning of the season,” Chizik said, ”but it’s still a very good football team that’s very dangerous.”
The Tigers defensive unit has been below average so far (ranked 76th, 419.3 YPG), doing just enough to keep them in every game they’ve played. Linebacker Daren Bates leads the team in tackles (47), while defensive end Corey Lemonier is quick off the edge and has recorded 5 sacks. The secondary has no interceptions so far in 2012.
The problem for Aubie has been on offense, where new offensive coordinator Scott Loeffler leads a group that currently ranks 113th nationally (297.8 YPG). Quarterback Kiehl Frazier continues to be a train wreck, throwing for just 546 yards (2TDs, 7Ints) in four games. His passing efficiency numbers are last in the SEC by a wide margin.
Negative plays have also been a huge problem for this offense. In just four games, the Tigers have allowed a staggering 35 tackles for loss (ranked 119th) including nine sacks. That is an incredible number, and speaks to the inexperience in the offensive line.
To make matters worse, one of the playmakers for the Tigers, wide receiver Quan Bray is suspended for the Arkansas game after his weekend arrest in Georgia. Bray is their third leading receiver (11 catches) and has thrown one of Auburn’s three TD passes this year.
If the Hogs are going to stay in this one, it may be time for defensive coordinator Paul Haynes to use that 5-man front that was pretty successful at stopping the run vs. Rutgers, and see if Frazier can beat us through the air. It’s worth a shot.
Any early success against this Tiger offense could be just what the doctor ordered. We’re not sayin’…we’re just sayin’. The Tigers are favored by 10.