Auburn has to recover from its heartbreaking loss against LSU quickly. That single defeat doesn’t knock the Tigers out of contention for the SEC West title, the SEC championship, or the College Football Playoff. A loss to a lowly Arkansas team that is floundering in its first year under Chad Morris, however, will do just that.
By Steve Wright
Here are the three keys to avoiding that fate:
Pass on the Hogs
Auburn has played a pair of secondary’s in 2018 – LSU and Washington – that are among the elite in the nation. Both could have top 10 defenses by the end of the season, which explains why Jarrett Stidham has had problems moving the ball down the field and scoring touchdowns. Thus Auburn offense hasn’t forgotten how to play, they have just been corralled by squads that know how to cover receivers as well as any in college football.
Arkansas – simply put – does not.
The Hogs have been torn apart through the air to the tune of 389 yards against Colorado State AND 281 against North Texas. The Mean Green did everything they wanted – and more – against the Arkansas secondary, suggesting that this might be the game where Stidham gets his groove back.
Stop the penalties
The way to keep a team like Arkansas in this game is by giving them free yards. That is what has been part of the problem for Auburn through three games, with the Tigers leading the SEC in penalties per game.
Auburn has been flagged more than eight times per contest so far in 2018, a sign that is worrying given the veterans that the Tigers have on the field in key positions. This – when combined with the Tigers fumbling issues – is an area that simply must be cleaned up if the Tigers are to make up for the loss against LSU by going on a tear through the rest of the schedule.
Be prepared for something a little different
Cole Kelley started at quarterback for Arkansas last week against North Texas. Kelley was shockingly bad against the Mean Green, throwing for 185 yards, zero touchdowns, and four interceptions. It was a day that the sophomore would like to forget, but it might be his last day starting for the Razorbacks for a little while.
As the game played out, a pair of freshman saw time for Arkansas. That, though, is not the direction that the Hogs will be taking this weekend, with Ty Storey once again taking the reins of Chad Morris’ offense. Storey played well when he entered the game in the Razorbacks’ opener against Eastern Illinois, but he did little against Colorado State and didn’t see the field against North Texas.
What is clear is that Morris isn’t afraid to shuffle his deck at quarterback, so the Auburn defense needs to be ready for everything and anything on Saturday.