Arkansas coach Houston Nutt made Tommy Tuberville his bitch for three hours Saturday afternoon. And it wasn’t pretty to watch. While Auburn and its fans were worrying about the BCS, Nutt and his Razorback team were preparing for the coup of a lifetime. The results were impressive and mind-boggling all at the same time.
Most Auburn people (including this writer) ignored the warning signs. The lackluster first half performance against Buffalo was shrugged off as a letdown after the LSU win. Barely holding on against South Carolina last week was dismissed as a solid road win against a Steve Spurrier coached team.
The fact is, Auburn is not as good as it was a month ago. This team has not gotten better every week, which is a mark of a true champion. Offensive coordinator Al Borges said after the LSU game that he thought his unit would get better every week like the one in 2004 did. He believed a tough win against what was thought to be the best defense in the conference at the time would pay dividends down the road. Both of those assumptions proved to be untrue.
Point blank, Auburn was exposed Saturday. It’s offense is not very good at the run or pass. The offensive line is in shambles. Giving up five sacks to Arkansas doesn’t bode well for next week. Tailback Kenny Irons can’t be expected to carry the team when he’s hit in the backfield more times than not. What’s most alarming is, that coming in, Arkansas was one of the worst in the country at stopping the run.
Brandon Cox has yet to throw down field effectively. With the exception of Rod Smith, none of the new receivers have established themselves. Borges and his play calling has reduced Courtney Taylor to a bit part in the offense. It’s hard to believe how vanilla this offense has become in the last few years. Borges has become more conservative than a Reagan administration official.
And what about the Tiger defense? Did it seem that the defensive line quit in the fourth quarter? Let’s hope that was the case. If it wasn’t, then Will Muschamp’s unit is part of the biggest digression since George W. Bush’s second term. How can a group not allow a rushing touchdown through the first half of the season and then allow two running backs to gain more than 100 yards each at home?
Tommy Tuberville said it best, he’s the one to blame. With second ranked Florida rolling into Jordan-Hare this weekend, it’s hard to imagine how Auburn can recover. It’s an assignment that Vince Lombardi would probably turn down. The truth is, right now, Auburn is just not very good. The coaching has been terrible. Auburn’s play calling and schemes on both sides of the ball have been atrocious.
Auburn still has a lot to play for this year. Arkansas will almost certainly lose two more conference games. They still must face LSU and Tennessee. The Western Division and SEC Championship are still in view for the Tigers. But we can’t ignore the warning signs. This team must improve fast – like in a week. Watching the Florida-LSU game, it’s hard to imagine Auburn beating the Gators on Saturday.
Link: Football Saturday In The South