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Tigers Rain on the Razorbacks! (grading the Tigers victory over the Hogs)

By on August 31st, 2014 in Football 32 Comments »

Trovon Reed yanks down a Razorback!
(A. P. photo by Butch Dill.)

     War Eagle, everybody! It’s time now for the Acid Reign report, on Auburn’s 45-21 win over the Arkansas Razorbacks in rain-soaked Jordan-Hare Stadium. Arkansas hung around for a half, with a dominating offensive performance and a 21-all halftime tie. Auburn slammed the door in the second half, allowing just 2 rushing yards in the final 2 quarters, and 3 first downs. Quarterback Nick Marshall returned from a half-game suspension, and the Auburn offense immediately resembled last season’s ground-chewing monster attack.

     The story of this game in the first half was the huge Arkansas offensive line and athletic plays by speedy tight ends. Arkansas was letting Auburn defensive linemen through gaps, then hammering them from behind with tight ends, as shifty running backs blazed through the vacated hole. And since the offensive linemen weren’t blocking Auburn linemen, they were able to get to the second level and take on linebackers and safeties. Arkansas broke off a number of big runs. Quarterback Brandon Allen was also able to run effective play-action passes off this look. In the first half, Auburn was unable to handle tight end option routes.

     Much like last season’s defenses, Ellis Johnson turned up the heat in the second half with man coverage, and linebacker and secondary blitzes. While Arkansas continued to trap linemen, there were just too many defenders swarming to the ball in the final quarters. And with Robensen Therezie frequently in the game, those tight ends stopped getting open. Therezie was only credited with 2 tackles, but his presence totally altered what Brandon Allen could do through the air. In the second half, Allen had just 54 passing yards.

     Jeremy Johnson got his first SEC start in this one, and he was razor-sharp early on, hitting his first 8 passes. However, Auburn’s rushing attack wasn’t what it was late last season, and Auburn was stoned on 3rd and short a couple of times, which allowed Arkansas to recover from a 21-7 deficit. Arkansas was able to ignore the quarterback run threat, clog the middle and take away the jet sweep. The Razorbacks did this by committing all 3 linebackers to the run, and bring secondary help up on the play side. This allowed Auburn to throw slant passes all day with lots of green empty space in the middle of the field. The Tigers threw only 22 times, but had 16 completions that ate up 293 yards. In the second half, Auburn threw just 6 balls, as the running game took off. Even committing 8 defenders against the run, it wasn’t enough with Nick Marshall in the game. The Tigers finished with 302 rushing yards, and 595 total.

     Before the season, I was concerned about Auburn’s special teams, with new faces kicking and punting. I needn’t have worried. Daniel Carlson showed a powerful leg in this one, hammering every kick for a touchback, and uncorking monster punts as good as any Jordan-Hare Stadium has seen over the past few decades. Quan Bray looked dangerous returning punts, and the punt coverage was solid, even having to handle long punts.

Unit Grades after the jump!

Defensive Line: C. This unit had a horrendous first half, and finished with only 11 total tackles, 2 for loss in the entire game. Brandon Allen threw the ball 31 times, and the line had just 2 quarterback hurries. To get pressure, Auburn had to blitz. Facing a very powerful offensive line, this bunch did regroup and hold their gaps in the 2nd half. Even if they weren’t the ones making most of the tackles, the rush lanes disappeared after halftime.

Linebackers: B-. This grade might be a tad high, but I included the Star position here since they were used primarily in the box in this game. Justin Garrett turned out to be a pretty good run stopper, and I thought Cassanova McKinzy played well when he wasn’t being run over by a pulling lineman. Kris Frost did not record a single tackle. Robensen Therezie was superb on his few snaps. He’s going to be hard to keep out of the starting lineup, I think.

Secondary: B. I counted off a letter grade for all the completions to the tight ends in the first half. These guys helped out a lot against the Arkansas run game, and were sure tacklers. Receivers and ball carriers did not get past them, particularly in the second half. Allen completed the short dump-off passes, and the receiver promptly went down for little or no gain. Whitehead, Mincy and Rudy Ford were three of Auburn’s top four tacklers in this game. I enjoyed seeing Jermaine Whitehead get the pick-six. It’s been a long time since he stepped in front of a slant against Florida Atlantic back in 2011, and took it to the house!

Punting: A+. Daniel Carlson only punted 3 times, but killed 2 of them inside the 20, and had a whopping 53.3 yard average. Arkansas did manage a couple of returns, but only for 11 total yards. Carlson ended up with a ridiculous 49.7 yard net, which is more than 10 yards better than what Auburn has been averaging the past few years.

Punt Returns: B+. I counted off a little on one ball that hit and rolled, but Quan Bray made solid decisions, and handled the ball well. When he had room, he made things happen, going north and south. Bray had 2 returns, and netted 31 yards.

Kick Returns: A. Arkansas kicked off 4 times, and 2 were returnable. Ricardo Louis took a short one at the 8, and got it out over the 25. Corey Grant handled the other one, picked up 32 yards, and nearly broke it.

Place Kicking: A. I won’t count off much for a miss from 42 yards. Daniel Carlson later hit a 45 yarder, and all 6 extra point attempts. He was flawless kicking off, notching a touchback on all 8 opportunities. Correction, Arkansas did return the first kickoff, which went 3 yards deep. However, Cassanova McKinzy dumped Korliss Marshall at the 15.

Offensive line: A-. This wasn’t quite the polished unit that finished last season, particularly in the first half. However, on a 595 yard, 302 on the ground day against an SEC opponent, the line had to have played well. The only penalties were a false start on Avery Young, and a bogus facemask call on Patrick Miller. There was one late, hold the ball sack given up.

Running backs: A. I counted off a bit for getting stopped on 3rd and short twice, but that may be unfair, since both times CAP was hit in the backfield. Artis-Payne proved that he can be a bell-cow back, with 26 carries for 177 yards. Corey Grant didn’t play as much, and Arkansas schemed to take away Grant’s patented turn-the-corner sweeps. Grant cut back inside, and finished with 10 carries for 87 yards. Both Auburn backs were very good picking up blitzes, and helped keep Auburn quarterbacks upright.

Receivers: A-. Had a couple of dropped balls, but these guys made big plays, and blocked pretty well downfield. Really, I shouldn’t count the drop on Sammie Coates. Replay showed that the ball was tipped just before it got to him. Daquille Williams was a sensation, showing tremendous athleticism and hands. A couple of his 9 catches were of the spin around variety, snagging balls thrown behind him. Honestly, he reminds me of Jerry Rice, the way he runs routes and finds space. Melvin Ray also showed his baseball player hands, going up and getting a high ball, then evading a defender and going the distance for a score.

Quarterbacks: A+. There’s not much to complain about, here. Both Jeremy Johnson and Nick Marshall executed well in this one. There were no turnovers, and these two guys led a nearly 600 yard attack. Nick Marshall is a special player running the zone-read, and Arkansas had no answer for it.

     Auburn’s 24 point win over Arkansas goes down as the biggest margin of victory in the series. All time, Auburn has 13 wins, 10 losses and a tie against the Razorbacks. The 595 offensive yards are the 6th most, all time, by Auburn against an SEC opponent. The Tigers had five new starters for this one, Montravius Adams at defensive end, Jonathan Ford at safety, Duke Williams at slot receiver, Cameron Artis-Payne at running back, and Shon Coleman at left tackle. Coleman’s recovery against cancer is now complete, as he’s back starting football games, anchoring one of the best offenses in the nation.

     Folks, it’s great to start out with an SEC win! When Auburn has been highly ranked to start the season, history hasn’t always been kind. This time, the Tigers took care of business. There were a few warts, but I’ll take a 24 point beating over Arkansas any time!

     Auburn now gets a chance to refine and tune things, with the San Jose State Spartans coming to town next Saturday. An off week follows, then a Thursday night tilt in Manhattan, Kansas. After that, it’s homecoming against Louisiana Tech to close out September. After what we saw yesterday, I’m really liking Auburn’s chances of playing for championships this season!


  1. War_Eagle_2010 War_Eagle_2010 says:

    Nice analysis Acid. I think you nailed the grades. It was very encouraging to see the coach Johnson was able to adjust so effectively at the half. I was also glad they kept up the momentum despite the hour and a half rain delay, thats good coaching and a team that is mature and physically in great shape. I wish Sanmie had grabbed that one in the endzone, but all the receivers looked great regardless. This is gonna be good year. Of course its always great to be an Auburn Tiger.

  2. AuburnMisfit AuburnMisfit says:

    JJ looked very good, but the offense under his management was very one dimensional with the passing. I should say, it seemed that way. It’s clear he doesn’t do the zone read like NM can and I think the lack of production from the rushing shows this. Still, there’s lots to like about JJ and he will only get better.

    Not sure what went on with our defense in the first half. Did CEJ decide on the wrong game plan going into this game? Not knocking his halftime adjustments, but I’m puzzled about his approach during the first half.

    • wpleagle wpleagle says:

      Based on Acid’s comments about Arky allowing the Auburn front men to penetrate and then be hit from behind, sounds like a bit of trickery on Arky’s part. Hard to plan for something like that.

  3. MechTiger says:

    Spot on report Acid. I think, overall, we’re close to picking up where we left off at the end of last season. The D was a big concern this game, but it was obviously fixable and mostly got fixed. It’s obvious that it’s our weakest link this season, but I’m confident that it will continuously improve throughout the season. The only other concern there is the lack of depth…so just praying that the injuries don’t get us.

    JJ was very impressive. I’m not going to count anything off because his offensive strength is air-ball at this point. He’s a very good passer. He obviously hasn’t gotten the intense, focused training in the zone read that Nick Marshall has had…mostly because he’s relatively new. Over time, I have no doubt that Malzahn will get him to Nick’s level (though I think his style will always be different).

    Bottom line…for an SEC opener against a dangerous opponent, I’m very pleased. War Eagle!

  4. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..It seemed to me that it was quite a boon to Auburn that Arkansas offensive coordinator Jim Chaney got stuck in the elevator at half time. Auburn brought more defenders into the box, which was predictable. Chaney went away from the Razorback bread ‘n’ butter, the run game. Basically, he blinked. In a tie game, I’d have made Auburn show me they were for real up front. Get the Razorbacks in 2nd and long, and they aren’t so great.

    …..That said, Arkansas would be a great offense, if they had more receivers to keep defenses honest. Their secondary was badly exposed in this one. I think our receivers can make a lot of deep defenders look bad, though. Arkansas conceded the slant pass, and made Auburn have to hit them. And both Tiger quarterbacks did, for the most part.

  5. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..Folks can say that Auburn’s defense wasn’t prepared for what they saw, but Arkansas did the same thing with the trap plays last year against us. Why we were so slow to adjust, I have no idea. It’s worrisome. Some of the offenses this year (Texas A&M, Georgia?) we will face, halftime might be too late to make a change.

  6. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..Worries about Tennessee dropping a game to Chuckie Keaton and the Utah State Aggies appear to have been overstated. Keaton is behind 14-0, and hasn’t even seen the field yet. The 5 new O-line starters have done a great job thus far.

  7. Tiger on the mountain Tiger on the mountain says:

    The Defense was truly worrisome in the 1st half….and no, we will not be able to get away with those shenanigans against A&M and Georgia (i hate georgia). I saw a lot of those ridiculous shoe string tackles and grasping for the backs of jerseys flying by… was like the ghost of VanGorder was prowling the sideline. Of course I only thought of him because he was coaching D in the Norte Dame game…his stache is unmistakable.

    I was impressed with JJ, but even his hand offs weren’t as crisp. The future is bright for auburn at qb, but the offense just hums under the leadership of NM.

    Was also glad that our guys didn’t lose focus due to the lightening delay. It’s great to be an auburn tiger!
    War Eagle!!

  8. AUjamstan says:

    Great re-cap Acid. You answered a lot of the questions I woke up to this am. Not sure why Arky did not try to pound on the ground more in the 2nd. We have a tough schedule ahead and those teams are going to see the tape. I have the same questions on why it took us a whole half for our defense to adjust.

  9. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..Oh, absolutely. In the Malzhan offense, quarterback ball movement is critical to befuddling and freezing the defense. Marshall is a master at it.

  10. tigertracker says:

    I for one am ecstatic. The o was clicking for the most part. We now know our backup QB is the real deal. The rebuilt line was giving QBs all day to throw even with trey flowers stomping around. Cap had almost 200, grant almost 100 so just shy of our 300+ average we’ve been used to. Duke is a boss. The only thing I see slowing this offense down is themselves thru turnovers and penalties. We play penalty free and take what the D gives us and it’s lights out! I was disappointed like everyone with the first half D. The rhino package didn’t impress me in stopping the run and probably attributed to no pass rush. It went away in the second half and the pressure went up. Gotta get those adjustments down earlier but that’s tough when you only have 3 minutes til your offense scores! Therezie is flat out an impact player. I swear I saw a halo flashing around his feet when he stepped onto the field. Lastly two of our young linemen went above and beyond and deserve special recognition. Montravious Adams lead blocking for whitehead on the INT return. Whatever hawg was in front of him wanted none of the big man but got it anyway. And Avery young. He helped CAP stay on his feet for a critical conversion on the last TD drive then shoved grant in the back and moved the pile from 3 yds out to close the game. That’s the heart we need fellas. Well done! Carlson was fantastic aside from the doink. Hopefully one day we’ll say the guy missed his first and never missed again 😉
    This is could be a fun, fun year tiger fans.

  11. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..Maybe Utah State is just a bad team, but I like what Tennessee is showing on completely rebuilt lines. D-line looks particularly salty. They won’t finish last in the East, this year, I don’t think.

  12. Pine Mt Tiger Pine Mt Tiger says:

    Last night was a little scary in the first half but the coaches did a great job making the adjustments at the half and I got my questions about the special teams answered in a big way. Bray was excellent and Carlson appears to be the real deal. Great analysis Acid.

  13. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..I like the statement on Adams. He just trucked a white shirt out there, on Whitehead’s pick six. And folks, he’s a fireplug in the middle of the line. He’s wasted trying to flank a left tackle.

    …..Sad but true, Keaton’s not the same player that we saw three years ago, with that rebuilt knee. Tennessee is having little trouble keeping him in check.

  14. domaucan1 domaucan1 says:

    It is INDEED GREAT TO BE AN AUBURN TIGER and it was great to be in Jordan-Hare on Saturday afternoon all the way into Saturday night. The adjustment of our defense in the second half was close to genious. From the end of the first half through the entire second half, Arkansas was shut out and stopped. The lightening storm was almost too far away to see but the rain fell mainly on the plains of Auburn for the restart. This was a quality win over an improved Arkansas team who is part of the SEC Western Division, the toughest football division in the USA. Let’s take them one game at a time!


    WAR EAGLE !!!

    GO BIG BLUE !!!


  15. MyAuburn MyAuburn says:

    A stellar post as usual Acid. I was confident and also a little wary of Arky with that 336 lb average offensive line. After this game I still maintain we will run the table going into the Bama game. Everyone else on our schedule except TAMU looks very beatable. I am MAJOR worried about them.
    CAP ran like Mason, almost with angry intentions to hurt anyone who dared try to stop him. I looove that attitude and style. Duke is a monster at receiver, Jerry Rice like almost. He will play at the next level, I just hope it is not next year. JJ needs him to be successful as a passing QB.
    Now on the talk smack front, I have a friend who is a BIG Arky fan. Here is my text to him after the game…Much improved team, you guys will not go 0-8 in the SEC this year. Good game….. since I have not heard from him back I expect he is pissed about my, things will get better text. Damn, I love SEC football!!!

  16. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..Thanks for all the praise, folks! I’m glad to get back to football season! And I’m enjoying my little Sunday night football evening. While the family watches reality shows, I’m in the kitchen, with a laptop and watching the Vols. They’ve done a great job getting ready, I think. And I got my pork shoulder done this afternoon, for some good eating!

  17. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..Tennessee won’t win the East this year, but I think they’ll ruin some dreams, and make a bowl for the first time in a few years.

  18. AubTigerman AubTigerman says:

    Very much enjoyed the game but man was the heat and humidity oppressive. I know it had to be extremely difficult for the players. It was probably tthe reason for the electric storm.
    It’s great to have Auburn Football back. Also it’s great to be able to read Acid Reign game breakdowns once again.

  19. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..I had a good afternoon and evening, myself, AubTigerman! Thanks for the compliment. Charter forced us to get cable boxes in July, and I complained bitterly about the extra cost. However, I think the hi-def broadcast did help my calls on the open thread. #draggedkickingandscreamingintothepresent…

    • rn4au rn4au says:

      Thank you Acid, I was running to the computer for that open thread during rounds at the hospital to check on what was happening when I could… the stupid hospital hasn’t worked out the SEC channel yet and there were some HOT patients up there yesterday and I am not talking about the humidity!… no cell phones meant no updates… I quickly became the most popular nurse to have around thanks to you….
      and GREAT RECAP as always!

      • Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

        …..Thanks so much! Brookwood hospital was good to me on a roll-over crash and head-butting the car door some 30+ years ago. And my daughter was helped after a nasty kidney infection a couple of years ago. If my Auburn threads are of help, I’m glad. War Eagle! We surely do appreciate the good care you and yours provide.

        • rn4au rn4au says:

          So glad to be of service Sir! Thanks for the kind words and in this case anyway…I hope NOT to see ya up there 🙂

  20. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..It’s a final. Tennessee whacks Chuckie Keaton and the Utah State Aggies, 38-7. I think concerns about the SEC being weak this season are unfounded. LSU beat defending B1G champ Wiscky, and the SEC met every challenge except for Vandy. Underestimate the SEC at your peril, pundits!

  21. wpleagle wpleagle says:

    A late comment, watching the reply. Don’t forget Grant’s return of the second half kickoff, went all the way to the Arkansas 43!

    • Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

      …..He was only credited for 32 yards, after a block in the back call on Ricardo Louis. The coverage guy turned his back to Louis, and that shouldn’t have even been called.

  22. AUsomeAU AUsomeAU says:

    Like all of you, I was mortified by the defense for most of the first half. Acid nailed it as usual. We were basically over running the play and getting into the backfield just as the runner went by. I actually think some of the adjustments were there before the half though. I do not understand why we didn’t call a time out after that 3rd and 6 conversion for a first down by Arky on their last scoring drive. A brief replay during the game showed the nose of the ball hitting the ground. Call a time out there for the play to be reviewed and that drive stalls and they only score 14. Still, they did continue on and score regardless. I wonder if we tried to call a timeout and just didn’t get it done in time b/c we did call one after the next play … almost for no reason. Either way, great opening conference win. IGTBAAT!!! WDE!!!

  23. Squeakywheel says:

    Thank you Acid for another terrific analysis of the game! The D was very troubling in the 1H, but with adjustments, looked like the D from last year. You can bet they learned a lesson. Am so sick of Coach Bulemia, glad his team threw up and was shut up despite the fake injuries designed to slow the game. It’s great to be an Auburn Tiger!

  24. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    ……”Coach Bulemia!” That’s so WRONG! I love it!

    …..Like I’ve said earlier, until fall-downs are a penalty, wise coaches will use it. I think Anthony Swain did one last year to Arkansas, before they ran their swinging gate play.