The Auburn offense continued its struggles Saturday afternoon inside Jordan-Hare Stadium, despite beating Arkansas 34-3. Arkansas, which gave up 44 points to North Texas last week in Fayetteville, held the Tigers to one of its worst offensive performances in the Gus Malzahn era.
Auburn was carried by the defense and special teams, only scoring three offensive touchdowns. Stidham was below average through the air, and still looked shaky in the pocket, throwing for 134 yards on 15-of-22. The quarterback carried the ball 10 times and added one rushing touchdown, but made some uncharacteristic mistakes and missed a handful of open throws.
Running back: C
Auburn was stagnant on the ground, again. Normally, coming home to play a much weaker opponent after a slip up in September is the cure for Malzahn’s offenses. It was not the case Saturday. The Tigers couldn’t crack the century mark, rushing for only 91 yards against an Arkansas defense that ranked at the bottom of the conference in almost every defensive category.
Redshirt freshman JaTarvious Whitlow did not rush for much yardage but was efficient in the red zone, carrying the ball 13 times for 49 yards and two touchdowns.
Wide receiver: C-
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The Tigers have yet to find a consistent downfield threat. Following the transfer decision of former starter Nate Craig-Myers earlier in the week, the Auburn receivers failed to score a touchdown and had little impact at all on the game. Freshman speedster Anthony Schwartz led the team with three catches for 59 yards and two carries for nine yards.
Offensive line: D
Offensive line coach J.B. Grimes is yet to solve Auburn’s biggest problem. The Tigers won, yes, but the offense was sloppy and out of sync the entire game. Without the defense and special teams, the final score would’ve been drastically different.
Kaleb Kim was benched which gave way to new starting center Nick Brahms, however Auburn still couldn’t run the ball or protect Stidham, who was under pressure all night and was sacked four times.
Front seven: A-
The Auburn defense got back on track Saturday, after giving up 22 points to LSU last week. The Tigers held the Razorbacks to three points and were only penalized seven times, after being flagged 11 times against LSU. Auburn allowed 149 yards on the ground and added two sacks. The Tigers also held Arkansas to 3-of-17 on third down.
The Tiger defensive backs were much improved against the Razorbacks, and were the main reason Auburn pulled away late, allowing only 141 passing yards and forcing two turnovers. Auburn’s defense was forcing three-and-outs all afternoon, which gave the Arkansas offense little room to get into a rhythm.
Safety Daniel Thomas scooped up a forced fumble in the first quarter and returned it inside the 5-yard line which set up an early touchdown, and nickel Javaris Davis had a 57-yard pick-six that was eventually called back before.
Special Teams: A+
Special teams were the story of the day, which is what made the day somewhat of a success, despite the offense’s struggles. Defensive back Jordyn Peters blocked a punt in the second quarter that was picked up and returned to the 9-yard line by K.J. Britt which set up another key touchdown.
And after Arkansas kicked a field goal in the third quarter to trim the lead to 14 points, Noah Igbinoghene returned a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown to put the game out of reach and extend the lead to 24-3
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