Auburn report card: Unforced errors doom Tigers in loss to Arkansas
Auburn (4-3, 1-3 SEC) fell to Arkansas (3-4, 2-2 SEC) 54-46 Saturday in four overtimes. The Tigers are now alone in last place in the SEC West.
Auburn fought back from a 14-0 deficit in the first half to force overtime. However, missed opportunities put the Tigers in a hole that they could not recover from.
Here is the Auburn report card:
Auburn ended up with respectable statistics on offense, including 46 points, but those numbers were inflated by the four overtime periods.
The Auburn offense was outgained 146-15 in total yards in the first quarter, as the Razorbacks built a 14-0 lead to begin the second quarter. Auburn held the ball for just three minutes and 33 seconds in the first quarter, which kept the defense on the field.
Auburn quarterback Sean White played well, but he is still without a touchdown pass in four starts since taking over for junior Jeremy Johnson. Auburn’s receivers did not do White any favors with nine dropped passes, including three in the first quarter.
The offense woke up at the end the first half and put together a 96-yard touchdown drive to cut Arkansas’ lead to 14-7 at halftime. That momentum carried over to the second half, but the Tigers could have won the game in regulation if they avoided a slow start.
Instead, the matchup went to overtime where the game ended on a dropped pass on fourth down by Auburn wide receiver Ricardo Louis.
Despite Arkansas ending up with 54 points, it was actually the second best performance of the season by the defense in terms of total yardage allowed, excluding overtime.
Auburn gave up 357 yards in regulation and held Arkansas to just 10 points in the second half. If the offense had scored earlier in the game, the defensive performance would have been good enough for a victory.
Auburn was able to disrupt Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen and force a crucial interception in the second quarter.
Linebacker Kris Frost came up with the interception to set up Auburn’s first scoring drive at the end of the first half. Senior cornerbacks Jonathan Jones and Blake Countess were both close to potential interceptions as well, but they could not hold on to the ball. The Tigers also forced two fumbles but were unable to recover either one.
The final grade takes a hit because Auburn had two opportunities to win the game in overtime after the offense scored a touchdown. The Tigers could not keep the Razorbacks out of the end zone on all four overtime possessions.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A
Not much to report here.
There were no egregious errors on special teams. The biggest contribution came from kicker Daniel Carlson on his only field goal attempt of the day. He came through with a clutch 41-yard field goal as time expired to force overtime.
The coaches always take blame in any loss, but they can’t execute the plays.
Nine dropped passes are inexcusable. You will not win many games that way, no matter how good of a coach you are.
Auburn has its issues defensively. However, holding a team to 24 points in regulation is an improvement when you look at how the Tigers have performed in previous games this season.
You can always criticize a play call here or there in a one-possession game, but the players showed up. They just didn’t get it done.
If Auburn found a way to win Saturday in spite of the struggles during the game, it would have been an impressive comeback.
Ultimately, the offense and defense did not perform well enough in separate portions of the game. Arkansas made a few more plays when it counted.
The Tigers must regroup quickly with four of their last five games coming against SEC opponents. Auburn needs two more wins to become bowl eligible.