Ladies and Gentlemen, I have to say, even I your humble Orange and Navy Kool-Aide connoisseur would not have been so bold as to predict this Auburn football team being this much better this fast. I actually had real worries going into this game.
Thoughts of the Hawgs jinx on Auburn teams that ventured into Razorback Stadium wafted through my cranium. Maybe we would see snow flurries, or copious amounts of rain, and Auburn would stumble out of the blocks.
My worries were unfounded as The Tigers came ready to play. The game started with plenty of drama, with both teams trading punches early. It was later in the first period with less than three minutes to go, when Auburn finally broke the ice and scored.
Then the Tigers took the game under their control, forced their offensive will on the home team, and played hard nosed good old "American Football." The game plan was to run the football. Plain and simple, run the ball. The Tigers only threw the ball 9 times with 8 completions and a TD.
I am sure there were more reasons for this than the topic of the SEC Media Days event where many opinions made media headlines. Auburn knew the Arkansas defense was much better against the pass than the run game. Auburn is much better at running than passing, so the two played to Auburn's strength, and the Tigers took full advantage of it.
Auburn had the ball for a total of 55 plays. That is below their average, and remarkably slow for the "pace offense" that Gus Malzahn like to use. Of the 11 times that Auburn had possession of the football, only twice did the Arkansas defense force a three and out. Auburn's offensive line had complete control of this game. Kudos to Coach Grimes for the job he has done this season.
The Tiger's defense played extremely well at times, although you get a sense that the depletion at Defensive Back is starting to take its toll. That goal line stand late in the first half was a real thing of beauty.
The Hawgs had the ball eight and a half minutes longer than Auburn, and ran 75 plays from scrimmage and had 20 less yards than Auburn. Auburn's defense held tough through out, limiting the Arkansas offense to just 17 points. Too many times late in the game, I saw missed tackles. That is an area of concern that our coaches must continue to emphasize.
Overall, if you can take your team on the road, and win, you are doing something right. Clearly Gus Malzahn and his staff are doing things right. The test continues next week as we go to Knoxville, TN to take on the Volunteers. Malzahn's last trip to Knoxville as an Auburn coach was a victory. Here is to continuing that trend.
Auburn is sitting at 8-1, where very few ever dreamed they would be. Some even said that this victory over Arkansas was an "ugly" win. Maybe it was. I remember all too clearly what ugly looked like last season, and I'll take an ugly win any day of the week.