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Arkansas Review: Same Heartbreaking Hawgs

Well, it happened again. The Arkansas Razorbacks and their inexplicable ability of making Auburn fans go into a game with a glimpse of hope and leave without an ounce of it, rolled into Jordan-Hare stadium and hung around long enough for Auburn to beat themselves on Saturday. I warned you all week that they could do it, and they did. They’ve done it a thousand times before.

The Razorbacks are Auburn’s Achilles’ heel if there ever was one. They couldn’t beat LA-Monroe or Rutgers, but they go on the road and beat Auburn? They gave up 100 points in their two previous SEC games, and then hold Auburn to 7? What? How does that happen? Here’s how…

The Auburn offense has no flow. It has no rhythm. It couldn’t even keep a simple limerick on beat right now. Why? I blame play-calling. I don’t know if Scot Loeffler has full control of what is being called. We’ve seen that Chizik will put his influence on an offensive coordinator before. Either way, there were so many times on Saturday, and multiple times this season, that I knew exactly what was coming on the next play. And it wasn’t a play that I believed would work.

You can bet money that if Auburn has 3rd-and-anything over 10, a draw will be called. This is the most frustrating thing about Auburn right now. It’s not that Loeffler/Chizik is calling the play to gain a 1st-down. It’s that they are calling this play, already conceding the drive, to gain three or four more yards in hopes to help with field position on the punt. It’s a pansy move, and it proves there is no confidence in the offense. You know what won’t give the offense confidence? Showing by play-calling that you don’t have confidence in them.

Guess what, it really can’t get any worse for the offense right now.  They might as well just go all out. Not to mention the fact that Frazier and the receivers had a pretty good day compared to games past. When he wasn’t being sacked due to a pretty bad day by the offensive line, Frazier made some throws that he hasn’t made all season. Yes, the Arkansas secondary is pretty awful, but it was happening either way. But, if Auburn was sacked, or had a dumb penalty, and got into 3rd-and-long, there came the draw. There were no risks taken. No shots. Just giving up on a long yardage situation. That’s coaching, and that can change, or a change needs to be made.

That being said, this same offense scored ten points on the LSU defense two weeks ago, and only seven points on the worst defense in the SEC this week. That proves to me that the Hawg curse is real. How are we supposed to compete with that?

Oh, and about the quarterback switch. I didn’t like it. I know they did it to provide a spark, but didn’t we try that last year with the same guy? Nothing against Clint, but we know what we’ve got there. Frazier was not the problem. Yes, he held on to the ball a little too long, but he was given less protection than he’s been given all season. We saw the exact same thing when Moseley came in. The problem was, again, play-calling and protection.

The defense, after being bashed for the first few weeks of the season, is improving every single week. That tackling issue is pretty much gone. The secondary is playing tight and breaking up more passes than I’ve seen in a while. The only problem they have is that they can’t score points for the offense. They hold as long as they can, but if the offense isn’t doing anything, the opponent stays in the game and eventually scores a few touchdowns. Right now, it would only take ten points, which would be a great defensive performance, to beat Auburn. VanGorder’s seat is cooler than the offense. Note: Josh Holsey is my new favorite player. Dude is going to be good.

We know this team is not as bad as it looked Saturday. We’ve seen this offense play much better. The defense continues to play better. I thought this game was going to be a good easy start to a much more manageable October. The Arkansas curse wouldn’t let that happen.

There are seven games left. Auburn can either make a huge turnaround or continue to go down the drain. Ole Miss and Vanderbilt are up next. Normally, that would look like two easy wins. Right now, nothing is easy. Until the offense shows it can score, it doesn’t matter what the defense does. My choice is to stick with Kiehl, get back to the offensive line play from a few weeks ago, and things will get better. Give Frazier those throws he made Saturday, don’t handcuff the offense with “field position” plays, and just let them play.

I don’t call for Auburn coaches’ heads, but I know if things don’t get better soon, people who matter will. I don’t want to see that happen. Small changes with this talent can help. Let’s start there.

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12 comments

JohnMark22 10/08/2012 at 1:29 pm

Great review, except I must disagree with one point, and as a diehard Auburn fan it pains me to admit it: this team IS as bad as it looked on Saturday — at least offensively. Let’s break this down:

Through 3 SEC games, we’ve scored 24 total points.

Mississippi State: touchdown on a kickoff return.
LSU: short TD drive after a turnover.
Arkansas: one touchdown drive, led by Clint Moseley.

My point is, in SEC play we’ve had ONE legitimate scoring drive resulting in a touchdown and none of them were by Kiehl Frazier. Including ULM, it took a trick play and a hail mary to score two of those four touchdowns.

The truth is, we really haven’t seen the offense play much better this year (Clemson was closest to a complete game). And it’s disappointing, because we have three great running backs, an awesome wide receiver, and one of the best tight ends in college football.

I’m done “hoping” the offense will get better one week at a time, or thinking that “it’s just adjusting to the new coordinator.” We all know those are cheap excuses, just like when we had the Tony Franklin experiment a few years ago.

Thanks for providing a place to sound off. I feel better now. War Eagle regardless.

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Hunter Pearce 10/08/2012 at 3:30 pm

After consistently recruiting with the best in the SEC during the Chizik era, why isn’t that translating into comparable results on the field? One national championship, then two mediocre years and a very bad year during his tenure. Isn’t that a player development issue? Doesn’t that fall ultimately on Chizik? I think he’s a great, great guy, but these are questions that need to be asked and answered.

Still believe in Auburn and love it.

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jshaun 10/08/2012 at 3:31 pm

I felt like your analysis was dead on. It’s exactly what I was was saying Sunday, after the game. The defense has gotten better all year. The offense has gotten worse. I think Loeffler made a mistake in putting Moseley in Saturday if for no other reason than to show the problem is more systematic than just bad QB play.

Looking back at last year, since Trotter got benched in the Florida game, Auburn has only won 4 games (Ole Miss, Samford, Virginia, UL Monroe). and the only one of any significance, was the game where Trotter came off the bench and led us to a victory over Virginia. In retrospect, the decision to bench Trotter may have been one of the biggest coaching blunders in recent memory.

I’m not at all about firing a head coach after one bad season; however, a change at the offensive coordinator position sooner than later may be needed if Auburn wants to remotely keep their recruiting class intact. At some point, recruits are going to look at Auburn as career suicide if we can only win 1 game with 3 top 10 recruiting classes.

War Eagle ALWAYS

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Ryan 10/08/2012 at 3:44 pm

I agree with JohnMark22 – As hard as it is to admit, we are as bad as we looked Saturday. Additionally, I don’t see how you can’t start to question Chizik… If you take out the national championship season with Cam at the helm, AU is 17-14 under Chizik – that’s not good enough. Before he came to AU, Chizik led Iowa St to a 5-19 record. That is atrocious. We aren’t even competitive in SEC games anymore… Hell, our only win on the year is an OT victory over La Monroe at home. How pathetic is that?

There is absolutely no excuse for getting blown out by Arkansas (a team who has been beat by a combined 100 points over the last 2 weeks and has lost to La Monroe and Rutgers) at home after having 2 weeks to prepare. Chizik was out coached by frickin John Smith! I’m so sick of hearing excuses from Chizik and the staff. How come we’re not seeing any improvement from these top 10 recruiting classes? How come players seem to regress over there time at Auburn? How can we not start questioning the coaching of this team?

We are 112th in passing offense, 93rd in rushing offense and 119th in points scored. That is an absolute embarrassment.

Sorry to be so negative, but we are absolutely terrible. Saying anything else is blatant homerism. Serious changes need to be made before our football program goes completely off the deep end.

War Eagle anyways.

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Around 10/08/2012 at 4:12 pm

Anybody starting to wonder about these top 10 recruiting classes? Are we taking guys no one else wants because of character issues? Are we just getting them on campus and letting them run wild? Pat Dye said we had to recruit thugs because Tommy Tuberville didn’t recruit anybody his last two years. Is this true? Are we recruiting bad football players or do they just turn bad when they get here?

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DBAU81 10/08/2012 at 10:13 pm

Our problems are many, and they result from a combination of recruiting talented players of questionable character, and an apparent inability to both develop them on the field and control them off of it. You also have to wonder who is really in charge of the program. No disrespect to Coach Dye, who has done many great things for our university, but if the stories/rumors about his continued influence over the program are true then we have a dysfunctional situation at the top that must be corrected. Two years ago we had a strong senior class, a little bit of luck, and a once-in-a-lifetime player who controlled the ball on every offensive snap. Those were enough to not only mask our problems but carry us to a season for the ages. We don’t have any of them any more, and now the weaknesses are there for all to see. For now, we have to do the best we can to get through this season with what we have. Then, it is time for the people who are supposed to really run Auburn University – the president and the Board of Trustees – to take a long, hard, cold look at the situation and then assert their authority and make whatever changes in leadership positions need to be made. In sum, this football season may turn out to be about more than just a lousy won-loss record; it could be a chance to make fundamental changes for the better not only in personnel but in the way the program is run from top to bottom. War Eagle!

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Les Clements 10/09/2012 at 10:22 am

It seems like people have short memories.
fact #1 – Coach Chizik put together a good group of coaches his first year that did more with less and improved the Tubberville recruits that were still here to play dramatically better than they had before.
fact #2 – Coach Chizik guided us through perilous waters against those who hate us, lie about us, and do everything they can to destroy us to win a National Championship.
fact #3 – Coach Chizik and most of those coaches are still with us.
fact #4 – Every successful coach from Shug to Bear and the little pricktator at Bama now has had bad years where corrections to staff must be made, injuries have occurred to players, and players had to be sent packing.
fact #5 – Sometimes a schedule gives a young team time to grow and sometimes it doesn’t.
fact #6 – Coach Chizik is a Coach who represents us with class and has high character and loves Auburn and has won championships before.
fact #7 – If he did well before, one can presuppose that he will again.
fact #8 – He has recruited very well in the same state with Alabama, like it or not, is at the top of their game. (Remember, everything is temporary, they won’t be doing well forever)
With those facts stated, the best thing we can do is pray for Coach Chizik and the staff and team and trust him to make the corrections needed to make our Football Team successful again. The worst thing we can do is turn on them and each other and sell our collective soul for some coach who is disingenuous, manipulates people with no regard to their lives, cheats on recruiting, and has low character. Coach Chizik will make the right decisions, even if they’re hard ones, but will do it in a way that won’t destroy some of his coaches lives. He knows what it takes to build a program and has already put a good foundation in place by his recruiting. We have a good “General”. Some of his “officers” seem to be in over their head. He will “reassign” them, trust me. He’s done it before. Let’s not rush to judgement and lose a good coach just because of this temporary setback. We’ll be blessed in the long run if we do what’s right as fans and supporters of our beloved Auburn Tigers.

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Paul 10/09/2012 at 11:44 am

THANK YOU!!! for a dose of common sense. LC has kept his head while so many around us have completely lost theirs.

For all those who want to replace Coach Chizik, I have one question: what coach of any quality in their right mind would want to come to a place that fired a coach after one bad season two years after winning a national championship?

And Mr. Blogle, in my opinion your assessment is dead on. It seems we are over-thinking our own offense. Why not just line up in the I formation, use power running (Tre Mason), and drive the ball down the field? It’s actually something we’ve done well and would set up our passing game (which did look better Saturday) to be more successful.

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Bethany 10/09/2012 at 4:06 pm

There’s just no evidence that Chizik is a good coach. Not from his record, nor the product he has put on the field outside of Cam and Fairley, two fluke JUCO gifts. We have gone from the best team in the country to a team in the bottom of the SEC West with absolutely no signs of a turnaround. The Tigers currently lack size, talent and ability despite the high number of recruiting stars on the field. You can’t brag about his recruiting when it’s not showing up on the field, and he’s had plenty of time to groom the “talent” he’s brought on board.

Chizik may be a “Good Man”, but the higher-ups at Auburn are not going to hold onto a “Good Man” when Saban is collecting championships every year. Tuberville was rock solid for us and at any sign of trouble Auburn was desperate to dump him. Tuberville put competitive teams on the field every year and did it without recruiting players with character problems, as Chizik, the “Good Man” has done. Chizik, outside of 2010, has not beaten a quality SEC opponent, and that’s not acceptable at Auburn. He’s not only bringing thugs onto the team, he’s not winning or even fielding a respectable team. There’s no “puncher’s chance” with Auburn under Chizik.

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Stan McCullars 10/09/2012 at 12:02 pm

Paul, I would argue that this is the second bad season after winning a national championship. We were blown out a few times last year and were lucky to win our first two against teams we should have destroyed.

Does Coach Chizik need to go? I don’t know. I like him but fear he has lost control of the ship. Certainly some of his “officers” are not getting it done and I would put Loeffler at the top of that list.

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Kevin 10/09/2012 at 10:58 pm

This was my very first time attending a college football game. I thought that, with Arkansas’ record, we stood a chance, and that it would turn out to be a fantastic game. When I saw that draw play on third and long, I knew right then the game was over. I could only assume that Gene Chizik attempted to trick the Arkansas defense. Any other offensive coach or head coach would have called a run in that situation. This is my first season as an Auburn student. I am very disappointed in how this season has started. I’m already wishing it could just be over so I can have some glimpse of hope for next year.

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JR Marcus 10/10/2012 at 2:30 pm

Well the play you were referring to was like 3rd and 22 deep in our own side of the field so it wasn’t a horrible play call…last year was not a bad season…mediocre? yes….people don’t realize we were undefeated until that clemson game and had a chance to win it…seems like the bad coaching started when we started playing musical chairs with our QBs starting last year…we have plenty of talent but we just have to develop that talent…we are at our lowest point right now and we have nowhere to go but up…i say we keep rolling with frazier, get him more confidence and let’s try to win the next game vs ole miss….WAR EAGLE!!!!

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