AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn football is doing its best to focus on the games remaining on its schedule instead of dwelling on its defeat at LSU.
“It’s a tough loss, most definitely, but we have to put it behind us,” senior safety Stephen Roberts said. “A lot of games left. Right now, focus on Arkansas.”
In order to avoid another upset on the road, this time in Fayetteville, the Tigers are dead set on not giving up any more momentous plays.
“Just play the next play. Big plays are going to happen. It’s just something that happens in football,” Roberts said. “But playing the next play is the only thing that matters.”
Gus Malzahn’s team, and in particular Kevin Steele’s defense, allowed LSU to gain nearly 50 percent of its offense on a mere four plays. Those gains included pass completions of 39, 37 and 31 yards from quarterback Danny Etling to DJ Chark. Wide receiver Russell Gage added a 70-yard run in the second quarter that set up an LSU score.
It was an uncharacteristic showing from Auburn’s defense, which had given up only five plays of 30 yards or more over the first six games of 2017 until its collapse in Baton Rouge. Injuries played a part, but big plays also were detrimental.
Big plays haven’t been an Arkansas specialty so far this season. The Razorbacks are 2-4 overall and 0-3 thus far, and have racked up 5.3 yards of offense per play. The longest plays of the game against No. 1 Alabama included a 13-yard rush from redshirt freshman QB Cole Kelley and a 46-yard pass from Kelley to newcomer Jordan Jones.
Steele and his defensive staff have high expectations for their players, and that includes not allowing opponents big gains. That will be anticipated on the Tigers’ next trip, too.
“Oh yeah. Like I said, I think, yesterday after the game, we have a standard that we live up to, and one of those standards is no big plays,” linebacker Darrell Williams said. “So when we give up one of those big plays, a pass over 15 runs, a run over 10, those are big plays, and we don’t want to allow those things to happen. So we’re going to keep that standard going into the next game.”