Hogs halfway there
BOX SCORE Auburn 45, Arkansas 21
It's not a moral victory, certainly. It was 45-21, after all…nothing moral about that. But it was a learning lesson and a discovery that this Arkansas team has something tucked away inside that could eventually evolve into a four-quarter game in the SEC that ends in celebration. Yes, all that while staring dead in the face of a 45-21 loss to No. 5 Auburn in the most beautiful village on the plains.
After a 21-21 halftime tie in the season-opener for both teams, the only thing that could stop Nick Marshall and the Auburn Tigers in the second half was a lightening delay. The Tigers racked up 595 yards of total offense to 328 for the Razorbacks.
Called at 5:50 p.m., the delay lasted an hour-and-28 minutes from 5:52 p.m. to 7:20 p.m. with only 9:55 remaining in the fourth quarter, and Auburn had just gone up 38-21 on a Daniel Carlson 45-yard field goal. The winner for strange occurrences, however, goes to the halftime elevator, which trapped Arkansas assistant coaches and did not allow them to make it to the locker room for halftime adjustments.
Arkansas is a much, much better football team. They're not good yet, but they're much better. They showed glimpses of having a rushing attack that can be a force to be recon with if they stay with it, but 8 carries for 2 yards in the entire second half is just plain bad. How is that even allowed to happen? As suspected, Arkansas does not yet have what it takes to march into a place like Auburn against a team coming off an SEC Championship and finish the way big-time teams finish. They're better, but they don't know how to put four quarters together…yet.
What they did show is that they are capable of getting there. Everyone wants to win right now, but what is clear is that there are steps to this program-building thing. After going down 21-7 early and allowing eight completed passes in-a-row, Arkansas muscled up, stole the momentum and put together two nice drives to tie the game. This is a better team than the one that stepped off the field last November in a four-point loss to LSU. The entire first half, they looked like a disciplined football team that knew what it was capable of doing. They lost it, but it is in there.
It's time to shut it about Brandon Allen. Arkansas did not lose Saturday because of him. He clearly showed his shoulder injury was a major issue last year, whether some want to believe that or not. He is an SEC quality quarterback when healthy. With 3:13 remaining in the first quarter, if Keon Hatcher had caught that bomb from Allen he might still be running. Hatcher did a great job getting separation and simply dropped a pass that would have gone for a 70-yard touchdown. Arkansas ended up punting instead of tying the game at 14-14. And Allen finished 18 of 31 for 175 yards, 2 touchdowns and an interception. His first half efficiency rating was 181.0. Imagine what it might have been had that 70-yarder been completed. He showed very nice velocity and poise in the pocket.
"I think the big swing was when BA obviously got hit as he was throwing the ball there," Bielema said. "I thought he really played a pretty clean game. Was on his reads, on his routes."
How much confidence would that have inspired in Hatcher and the rest of the team? That is an issue that plagued him last season, and now it's back in his head. How much air would that have let out of Jordan-Hare Stadium? Simple little mistakes like that are what costs teams ballgames in the SEC and results in huge momentum swings. Arkansas rallied to tie it at 21-21, but what if they didn't need to rally?
"Wish we had caught the ball that first big play in the first half. Those are big plays we've got to have," Bielema said.
Allen probably audibled out of a running play on the second play of the second half for Arkansas, but after rushing for 151 yards on 21 first half carries, it might have been a decent idea to run the ball at least once. The entire third quarter was a disaster for Arkansas as the Hogs picked up just 7 rushing yards on 6 carries and put up only 36 passing yards, though Allen was 6 of 8 through the air that quarter. One of Allen's incompletions came when his arm was hit on a throw that caused the ball to flutter and land in the awaiting arms of Auburn's Jermaine Whitehead, who returned it 33 yards for a touchdown. Rough quarter that ended 35-21 in favor of the Tigers.
"I think they did bring a little bit more pressure in the second half," Allen said. "Took a drop, pumped one way, came back the other way and I was trying to get the ball out before I got hit, and he ended up hitting me right when I was throwing it and it shot up in the air."
The fourth quarter wasn't much better. Auburn added 10 more points, Arkansas ran the ball just once more, and that came on a sack. There were no positives for the Hogs after the lightening delay whatsoever, aside some freshmen getting a quick lesson of what SEC football really is.
-Interesting notes from the start of the game
Opening Kickoff - Arkansas won the toss and elected to receive. Cassanova McKinzey stopped Korliss Marshall for a 15-yard gain. Marshall, who brought it out of the end zone may have had room to the outside but he cut it up. The game clock was not operational from the start, causing the game's first delay.
Opening Arkansas Drive - A.J. Derby and Hunter Henry both started at tight end, along with Jonathan Williams, Keon Hatcher and Demetrius Wilson at the skill spots. Williams picked up 2 yards on the first play for Arkansas, a handoff to the right tackle. A Brandon Allen pass attempt was broken up by Jonathan Jones, bringing up 3rd-and-8 at the 17-yard line. Allen got great protection and took off running. Wisely, Allen went down before he was hit, but he came up a few feet short of the mark and Arkansas was forced to punt. The Razorbacks went 3-and-out their first possession of the year.
Opening Auburn Drive - After a 51-yard punt by Sam Irwin-Hill, Auburn came out with Jeremy Johnson under center and three receivers. The first play was a read option to Cameron Artis-Payne that went for 2 yards. Twelve seconds later, Auburn ran a rollout pass to Ricardo Lewis. Johnson then hit Sammie Coates for a 13-yard pickup to the AU 43-yard line. Artis-Payne ran for 7 off the left side and then got around the left side again for a good 11-yard pickup but the Tigers were hit for holding, bringing up a 2nd-and-13 at the Tiger 40-yard line. A reverse play by Lewis was blown up by Jared Collins for no gain, bringing up 3rd-and13 at the 40. Artis-Payne took a bubble screen and followed his blockers for a 16-yard pickup and a 1st down. Artis-Payne was then dropped by Trey Flowers and Brooks Ellis for minus-3. A corner blitz by Carroll Washington was recognized by Johnson, and he hit Melvin Ray for a 49-yard touchdown. Ray slipped a tackle attempt by Rohan Gaines and took it the distance. The Auburn scoring drive went 75 yards in 8 plays.
Biggest and Best Plays
-Key moments in the game
AU - On Auburn's first drive, Johnson recognized a corner blitz by Carroll Washington and hit Melvin Ray wide-open for a 49-yard touchdown down the east sideline. Ray slipped a tackle attempt by Rohan Gaines to take it the distance.
UA - on 2nd-and-3, Korliss Marshall took it up the middle with 9:37 to go in the first quarter for a 13-yard gain that he almost took to the house. On the ensuing play, Alex Collins ran for 20 yards to the Auburn 35-yard line. Collins took a similar iso play up the gut the next play for 21 yards to the AU 14-yard line. Auburn brought the house two plays later on 2nd-and-10, and they were caught by Arkansas' play-action pass to a wide-open Hunter Henry in the southeast corner of the end zone.
AU - The first play of Auburn's second drive, Johnson hit Sammie Coates over the middle for a 19-yard pickup to the AU 44-yard line before he was stopped by Alan Turner with just under 7 minutes to go in the opening quarter.
AU - A TiQuention Coleman blitz left Sammie Coates wide open on a pass over the middle from Jeremy Johnson, and Alan Turner couldn't get there fast enough until he finally tracked him down at the Arkansas 22-yard line. It was a 62-yard pickup for Coates.
AU - With 4:01 left in the opening quarter, Artis-Payne punched it in for Auburn from 1-yard out to make it 14-7, Tigers. The play prior to that, Johnson found C.J. Uzomah for a 26-yard gain down to the 1-yard line against Rohan Gaines.
AU - On 3rd-and-6 from the 18-yard line early in the second quarter, Johnson found D'Haquille Williams for an 18-yard touchdown. Arkansas' Carroll Washington had him but could not wrangle him down.
UA - On 2nd-and-11 early in the second quarter, Brandon Allen hit Demetrius Wilson for a 26-yard pickup. Allen threw a should shake at Auburn, and then when Wilson came out of his break, the ball was right there on the money. The play before that, Wilson caught his first pass of the season on an 11-yard pickup.
UA - On the same drive, after a defensive holding call and short Jonathan Williams run, Brandon Allen went play-action and found A.J. Derby wide-open in the middle of the end zone for a 17-yard touchdown strike to make it a 7-point game, 21-14 in favor of Auburn. The play capped a 6-play, 75-yard drive for the Razorbacks.
UA - With 8:40 left in the half, Alex Collins showed some shake on an 18-yard run up the middle all the way to the UA 36-yard line. Collins followed that up with an 11-yard run to the 47.
UA - Around the 6-minute mark of the second quarter (play clock not working), on 3rd-and-6 at the 50-yard line, Allen stood strong in the pocket until Demetrius Wilson came free for a 14-yard connection over the middle for a scooping grab at the Au 35-yard line. The next play, Allen hit A.J. Derby for 18 on a play-action reverse to the AU 17-yard line with 5:13 remaining in the half.
UA - On a toss play with 5 minutes left in the first half, Williams took the pitch for 11 yards down to the Tiger 6-yard line for an 11-yard pickup. Arkansas ran essentially the same play the next drive for a 5-yard touchdown. John Henson tied the game up 21-21 on the ensuing extra point with 4:28 remaining in the half. The Arkansas drive went 93 yards in 10 plays.
AU - On Auburn's first drive of the second half, Nick Marshall capped it by running 19 yards for a touchdown, capping a 9-play, 78-yard drive. It was Marshall's first series of the game.
AU - After searching for a receiver, Marshall found Melvin Ray for a 28-yard reception to the Arkansas 32-yard line with 11:30 remaining in the 3rd quarter. Ray made a leaping one-handed reception.
UA - On Arkansas' second series of the second half, Brandon Allen faked a reverse and found Keon Hatcher for a 17-yard pickup down to the AU 34-yard line with 7:39 remaining in the third quarter.
UA - With 11:50 to play in the game, Trey Flowers and Darius Philon dropped Marshall on a running play for a 5-yard loss, bruinging up 2nd-and-15. Two plays later, Philon sacked Marshall for a 5-yard loss to bring up 4th-and-14 at the AU 28-yard line. The Tigers settled for a 45-yard Daniel Carson field goal to put the Tigers up 38-21 with 9:55 remaining in the game.
UA - After opening with a penalty when play resumed, Korliss Marshall went around the right side for a 14-yard gain. It was Arkansas' longest run in some time, and it wasn't just because of the delay.
AU - Linebacker Cassanova McKinzy slammed into Brandon Allen for a sack to on Arkansas' first drive out of the delay, forcing a fourth down and punt by the Hogs.
AU - Auburn's offense opened after the delay with a 33-yard Cameron Artis-Payne run off the right side for 33 yards to their own 47-yard line. Two plays later, Artis-Payne ran for 13 yards spinning and fighting the Arkansas 39-yard line.
AU - With 3:43 left, Corey Grant ran around the right side for a 24-yard gain down to the Arkansas 3-yard line. Grant punched it in the next play to put the Tigers up 45-21.
-Key moments in the game
After opening 3-and-out and giving up a long touchdown play to Auburn, the Razorbacks came right back with a beautiful 6-play, 75-yard drive that ended in a 14-yard play-action touchdown pass from Brandon Allen to Hunter Henry.
The Hogs picked up three 1st downs in-a-row on runs of 13, 20 and 21 yards by Korliss Marshall (13) and Alex Collins (20 and 21) on Arkansas' second series to inspire some confidence in the offense after a bad offensive start the first series.
With Arkansas driving down to the Auburn 35-yard line, Auburn's Joshua Holsey forced pressure on Brandon Allen, but nobody was open and he was forced to throw it away, and the Hogs had to punt.
After 8 consecutive completions by Jeremy Johnson with 11 minutes remaining in the half, his shortest pass attempt of the day, out to the flats, went incomplete on a drop. Auburn would later be stopped on a run for minus-1 yard by Cameron Artis-Payne. It was Auburn's first punt of the day, and from that point on Arkansas gained confidence and ended up tying the game 21-21 with 14 unanswered points.
With Nick Marshall starting at quarterback in the second half, the Tigers marched 78 yards in 9 plays, finishing with a 19-yard Marshall touchdown to give Auburn back the lead 28-21. The first series of the second half for Arkansas started like the first, with the Hogs going three-and-out. After a punt and a nice return, the Tigers started off at their own 49-yard line with 9:04 remaining in the third quarter.
On Auburn's second series of the second half, Cameron Artis Payne coughed the ball up at midfield, and it was ruled as a fumble that was recovered by Arkansas. Upon review, the ruling on the field was quickly confirmed and Arkansas took over 1st-and-10 at their own 46-yard line with just under 9 minutes remaining in the third quarter. The fumble was forced by Tevin Beanum and recovered by Martrell Spaight, but Arkansas could not capitalize.
After two big Auburn plays on the third Tiger possession of the second half, Auburn ran into some issues. JaMichael Winston stopped Marshall for minus-4, then a substitution infraction made it 3rd-and-15. Pressure by Trey Flowers resulted in an incompletion, and the Tigers were forced to punt. After that big stop by Arkansas' defense, Brandon Allen's arm was hit on a pass play and the ball fluttered into the waiting arms of Jermaine Whitehead, who returned it 32 yards for a touchdown, putting the Tigers on top 35-21 with 2:39 remaining in the third quarter. Arkansas never recovered.
At 5:50 p.m., the game was suspended due to the threat of lightening within an 8-mile radius of Jordan-Hare Stadium. The Tigers were up on the Razorbacks 38-21 at that point with 9:55 remaining in the game.
Goodness Gracious Alive
-The best of Arkansas
Arkansas' rushing attack was extremely impressive in the first half as the Razorbacks rushed 21 times for 151 yards and a touchdown. At the half, the Hogs were neck-and-neck with the defending SEC Champions, 21-21.
Brandon Allen's velocity was back, and he looked extremely poised in the pocket - especially in the first half. He finished the game 18 of 31 for 175 yards, 2 touchdowns and an interception, but a drop here and there - particularly one that would have been a 70-yard touchdown - could have made his numbers better. He finished with a 120.3 passer rating.
Got to do better than that
-The worst of Arkansas
On Auburn's first touchdown drive, the Hogs brought a corner blitz, and Rohan Gaines was the last line of defense and missed a tackle on Melvin Ray, resulting in a 49-yard Auburn touchdown on the Tigers' opening drive to make it 7-0. The next Auburn series, on a bomb that was just overthrown, Gaines committed a needless pass interference penalty, giving the Tigers a 1st down instead of a 3rd down. On the same drive, Gaines gave up a 26-yarder over the middle to C.J. Uzomah down to the Arkansas 1-yard line. The Tigers punched it in on the next play to take a 14-7 lead.
Arkansas' third drive, wide open streaking down the sideline 45-yards down field tracking down a perfect throw from Brandon Allen, Keon Hatcher let it go straight through his arms with 3:13 remaining on the game clock in the first quarter. It was a perfect strike and would have resulted in a 70-yard touchdown.
Arkansas assistant coaches who were in the coaches booth were stuck in the elevator and unable to leave at halftime. The coaches did not make it down to the locker room to help with halftime adjustments, this included offensive coordinator Jim Chaney and secondary coach Clay Jennings among others.
The game clock was not operational throughout the entire first half.
Arkansas ran just 8 times for 2 yards in the second half.
-Substitutions and whatnot
On Arkansas' third drive, Sebastian Tretola came in at left guard in place of Luke Charpentier. Charpentier returned two series later, but the two players rotated all day and night.
On Auburn's third series, TiQuention Coleman came into the game at SAM linebacker.
On Auburn's first series of the second half, AU quarterback Jeremy Johnson was replaced by Nick Marshall, who was serving a suspension. Marshall's first pass went to Duke Williams for no gain, bringing up 3rd-and-6 at the AU 26-yard line. Mashall's second pass went complete to Corey Grant for 6 yards.
After the delay, true freshman SAM linebacker Randy Ramsey saw a lot of action. He also showed his inexperience by losing Corey Grant on a 23-yard run down to the Arkansas 3-yard line.
-Players who were hurt
With 8:40 remaining in the first half, Korliss Marshall went down with an arm injury. It was initially thought to be fractured but was not. Marshall also lost the handle on the ball that play but Arkansas recovered. He returned in the second half.
On Auburn's first drive of the second half, Alan Turner went down with an injury and was replaced by true freshman Joshua Liddell, who could not close fast enough two plays later as Nick Marshall scooted 19 yards for a touchdown, capping a 9-play, 78-yard drive. Alan returned.
Arkansas snapper Alan D'Appollonio went down on Arkansas' first punt of the second half while covering downfield but appears to be fine.
With 5:45 remaining in the game, Arkansas defensive tackle Darius Philon had to be helped off the field but also appears to be fine.
-Interesting notes from the end of the first half
Arkansas had a chance to take a lead or end the half but went 3-and-out after back-to-back Brandon Allen incompletions. Auburn got the ball back with 1:34 remaining in the half. A 14-yard punt return gave Auburn possession at their own 40-yard line with 1:24 remaining, which is an eternity for the Tigers. Johnson found D'Haquille "Duke" Williams for 20 yards on the first play to the UA 40, then found Sammie Coates, who caught it and fumbled it out-of-bounds at the UA 32 for an 8-yard gain.
After an incomplete pass, Cameron Artis-Payne picked up a 1st-down on a 4-yard gain. With 26 seconds left in the half following back-to-back incompletions, Auburn faced a 3rd-and-10 at the Arkansas 28-yard line. A fake bubble screen and then toss to Duke Williams resulted in a 4-yard gain to the AU 24-yard line. Auburn took the clock down to 3 seconds and signaled for timeout. Daniel Carlson's 41-yard field goal attempt was no good off the right upright.
-Interesting notes from the end of the game
Auburn had the game well in hand, up 45-21. After Peyton Barber went over the left end for a 14-yard pickup down to the Arkansas 14-yard line, the Tigers let the clock run out and made the victory official. Before the weather delay with 9:33 remaining, Auburn kicked a 45-yard field goal to go up 38-21.
Despite much anticipation, there was not a single true trick play on Saturday.
What Were They Thinking?
Arkansas gave up a 49-yard touchdown pass and a 62-yard gain in the first quarter when blitzes were called and recognized by sophomore quarterback Jeremy Johnson.
-newcomers who played
Arkansas true freshmen who played Saturday include linebacker Randy Ramsey, receiver Jared Cornelius, cornerback Henre' Toliver, safety Joshua Liddell, linebacker Dwayne Eugene and nose tackle Bijhon Jackson. The Hogs were expected to play several more, but it did not work out that way.
Five Keys To Victory
Ultimately, there were no real winners or losers as far as special teams were concerned.
Korliss Marshall brought a kick out from the middle of the end zone and only picked up 15 yards to open the game. Marshall returned as the kick returner in the second half and started off as Arkansas' running back.
With 1:09 remaining in the first quarter, Arkansas was held to a 4th-and-6 at the AU 35-yard line. Arkansas opted to punt and Sam Irwin-Hill dropped a beauty at the Auburn 2-yard line for a 33-yard punt. Auburn would score anyway 6 plays later on a 98-yard drive, due in large to a 62-yard catch-and-run by Sammie Coates.
On Auburn's first punt of the day, with 9:34 remaining in the first half, Daniel Carlson booted it 62 yards to the UA 3-yard line. Arkansas' D.J. Dean made an ill-advised decision to field it and returned it to the 7-yard line.
With 3 seconds remaining, Auburn kicker Daniel Carlson pushed his 41-yard field goal attempt right and popped it off the right upright, no good. The halftime score remained tied 21-21.
Sam Irwin-Hill pinned the Tigers at their own 11-yard line on Arkansas' second possession of the second half, but Arkansas only picked up 23 yards by doing that. Arkansas was in a 4th-and-10 situation on the play, so there were not many options other than to punt, and Irwin-Hill did not get a great bounce.
After missing the only field goal attempt of his career to end the first half, Auburn's Daniel Carson drilled a 45-yarder with 9:55 to go in the game, putting the Tigers up 38-21.
Auburn won the turnover battle, even though each team only had one. The Tigers had a pick-six, and the Razorbacks failed to capitalize on their forced turnover.
The first loose ball of the day came on a short run by Korliss Marshall, but the Razorbacks retained possession as the ball bounced back up into Marshall's belly.
On Auburn's final drive of the first half, Sammie Coates lost the handle on the ball but it rolled out of bounds and he finished the play with an 8-yard gain.
On Auburn's second series of the second half, Cameron Artis-Payne coughed the ball up at midfield, and it was ruled as a fumble that was recovered by Arkansas. Upon review, the ruling on the field was quickly confirmed and Arkansas took over 1st-and-10 at their own 46-yard line. Arkansas was unable to capitalize after being stopped at the AU 34-yard line, bringing up 4th-and-10.
After a big stop by the Arkansas defense, Brandon Allen's arm was hit on a pass play and the ball fluttered into the waiting arms of Jermaine Whitehead, who returned it 32 yards for a touchdown.
On a pass to the flats, Jonathan Williams was struck by Robenson Therezie and fumbled it but recovered the ball for a 4-yard loss, brining up 2nd-and-14 at their own 31-yard line. It was the second-to-last play in a disastrous third quarter for the Razorbacks.
Arkansas had a slight edge in penalties, committing five for 50 yards to Auburn's six for 61 yards. It was an acceptable number of penalties for each team, especially in the first game.
The Tigers overcame a holding penalty on their first drive that eventually put them in a 3rd-and-13 situation at their own 40-yard line when Johnson hit Cameron Artis-Payne on a bubble screen for 16 yards.
Rohan Gaines committed a needless pass interference penalty on Auburn's second drive on a pass that was overthrown, giving the Tigers a 1st down when it would have been 3rd-and-8 from their own end.
On what would have been a first down anyway, Auburn's Angelo Blackson committed a facemask on Brandon Allen, giving the Hogs a spot at the 50-yard line.
A 9-yard Artis-Payne touchdown run was negated by a facemask penalty on the first play of the second quarter. The touchdown would have made it 20-0 Auburn before the extra point attempt. The Tigers would score anyway 3 plays later on an 18-yard touchdown pass to Duke Williams.
Auburn was hit with a defensive holding penalty with approximately 12 minutes remaining in the second quarter, giving Arkansas a 1st-and-10 at the AU 29-yard line instead of 1st-and-10 at the 39.
On 3rd-and-1, Cameron Artis-Payne was stopped for no gain. Auburn lined up to either go for it or to get Arkansas to jump. Auburn was the team that jumped, leaving the Tigers in a 4th-and-6 and forcing them to punt with 2:27 remaining in the half.
A block in the back negated a 55-yard return by Auburn's Corey Grant. The result was a 32-yard return with a 10-yad penalty, making it 1st-and-10 at the AU 22.
Auburn was hit with a substitution infraction that left them in a 3rd-and-15 on their third possession of the third quarter. They were unable to overcome the distance.
Arkansas' Dan Skipper was hit with a block below the waist penalty on an interception return by Auburn for a touchdown. The 15-yard penalty was enforced on the kickoff, and the kick sailed deep into the Auburn crowd from the 50-yard line.
Arkansas' Brey Cook committed the first false start penalty of the season for Arkansas with just under 2 minutes remaining in the third quarter.
After an hour-and-28-minute weather delay, Arkansas opened with a false start penalty on their first series by Demetrius Wilson.
This one clearly goes to Auburn.
While the Razorbacks gave the Tigers all they wanted in the first half with 21 carries for 151 yards while holding the Tigers to just 68 yards on 18 carries, the second half was a much different story.
The Hogs only ran 25 plays in the second half, including only 8 rushing attempts for 2 yards.
The Tigers on the other hand ran it 38 times in the second half for a whopping 234 yards.
45-21, this one went to Auburn.
But this is more than just about the final score. When opportunities presented themselves, Arkansas had to find find a way to put points on the board. There was the Keon Hatcher drop and then twice Arkansas had to pooch punt because they were just barely too far out of field goal range. Arkansas cannot afford to stall around the 30-yard line this season. There is no Zach Hocker on this team, and it is pretty apparent Bret Bielema isn't going to try many field goals beyond 45 yards.