Rapid Reaction: Auburn wins, needs to improve for big games ahead
Auburn did what was expected by walking into a not-even-close-to-full Razorbacks Stadium and easily defeat Arkansas 51-10 on Saturday. The Tigers (6-1 overall, 3-1 SEC) rolled in a warmup of sorts for the big matchup next Saturday in Baton Rouge against LSU.
This game shouldn’t have been a measuring stick for what Bo Nix has learned since his three-interception game at Florida on Oct. 5, but once again the true freshman looked exactly like that: A true freshman. The same struggles Nix had against the Gators were on display in the first half as he missed open receivers, struggled to be on the same page — he and Seth Williams had two miscommunications in the first 30 minutes — and looked shaky in the pocket.
Nix improved in the second half, throwing three touchdown passes to help put the game away including a perfect back shoulder throw to Williams to give the Tigers a 37-10 lead.
Other rapid reactions:
- It shouldn’t have to be said by now, but Derrick Brown is just flat-out special. Yes, the defensive lineman can get into the backfield unlike many in college football, but many other traits just stand out. such as the way he chases down running backs and wide receivers to make tackles. On a screen pass to Arkansas tight end Cheyenne O’Grady, Brown was out of position but immediately made the tackle on the Razorback player. Brown is a force.
- Of course, so is Marlon Davidson. The Tigers got off to a great start when the defensive lineman stripped Arkansas quarterback Ben Hicks on the third play of the game, putting the offense in excellent field position. Two completions to Anthony Schwartz and a Nix run put Auburn up 7-0 in less than three minutes.
- Why coach Gus Malzahn refuses to put his quarterback, whether Nix or Joey Gatewood, under center on short-yardage situations remains a great mystery and a point of frustration for Auburn fans. On third and 1 in the first quarter and on the first possession of the third, Auburn was stuffed short on plays that started at least 3 yards behind the line of scrimmage. This is nothing new for the Tigers and it needs to be fixed.
- The fact that the Tigers couldn’t get a ground game going against this Razorbacks’ defense, which enter the game ranked 86th in the FBS by allowing 175.3 rushing yards per game, is a bad sign considering the defenses that Auburn will face in the coming weeks. Plus Auburn is without Boobie Whitlow for a few weeks.
- Not sure what happened after the Razorbacks scored their first points of the game — a field goal in the third quarter — but Malzahn finally seemed to open the playbook as two quick drives resulted in 14 points, ending any hope for an upset by Arkansas. Nix found a wide-open Williams for a 48-yard touchdown; then, after a great interception by Javaris Davis, Nix hit Anthony Schwartz on a 28-yard TD pass he dropped nicely into his receiver’s arms.