A Razorback Recovery?

Friday, October 9, 2020

A Razorback Recovery?

Auburn has blown out Arkansas 4 consecutive years.

     War Eagle, everybody! Saturday afternoon, the Auburn Tigers will take on the Arkansas Razorbacks in the friendly confines of Jordan Hare Stadium. The Tigers are coming off a devastating loss to the Georgia Bulldogs in Athens, where the Tigers did not even seem competitive. Arkansas is coming off a big win in Starkville, where the Razorback defense shut down the mighty Mike Leach airraid offense, and posted a 21-14 win over Mississippi State.

     Both teams have played Georgia, and neither fared well in the end. Arkansas was competitive in the first half against the Bulldogs, but got blown out in the second half. Auburn’s game against Georgia was a blowout before even halftime. In both cases, the teams lost the battle at the point of attack against Georgia’s powerful lines.

     I was traveling Sunday, and by the time I was able to watch a replay of the Auburn Georgia game, I decided there was little point in posting a scathing grade report. Both lines of scrimmage would have earned an F, as would have the Auburn secondary which gave up tons of yards in the middle of the field. Auburn will have to get a lot better in all three to hope for any more wins this season.

     Arkansas was supposed to be Auburn’s easiest remaining game, but matchup problems seem likely in this one. Arkansas was able to use just a 3-man defensive line rush against Mississippi State, and still caused havoc in the backfield. Much like the Georgia game, if Auburn can’t block the Arkansas front 4, it will be a long afternoon for the Auburn offense.

     For the Auburn defense, the front 7 on defense simply must tighten up against the run. The Tigers will have to do it without star linebacker Kenny Britt, who had thumb surgery this week. Britt is expected to be out for as much as six weeks. The Arkansas offense employed by coordinator Kendall Briles will focus on hurry-up, quick snap techniques. Arkansas will use a lot of zone runs, with Auburn having to contain all-SEC caliber tailback Rakeem Boyd as well as veteran quarterback Philippe Franks. Thus far this season, the Auburn run defense has been gashed to the tune of 173 yards per game, compared to Auburn’s offense managing only 65 per game.

     Weather may be an issue in this game, although Hurricane Delta should be well west of Auburn as this game kicks off. Periods of rain and breezy conditions are likely for this game.

     Looking to the rest of the SEC this weekend, 6 games are scheduled. We’re starting to get a better picture of where SEC teams stand, now with 2 games in the record book. In the early games, Florida visits Texas A&M. This one might be a high scoring game, as neither team has shown consistency stopping the big play. Florida’s quarterback Kyle Trask has been more consistent than Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond, and I think the Gators will pull away in this one.

     The LSU Missouri game was moved due to the hurricane, and will now be played in Columbia. LSU had a rough opening week, but still is a talented team. Missouri has yet to play competitive football. I expect an LSU win.

     South Carolina visits Vanderbilt early Saturday. I see two teams that are tough defensively, with no offensive identity. The pressure mounts on Gamecock coach Will Muschamp, who has lost 8 of his last 12 games. I’ll pick South Carolina in this one.

     Tennessee visits Georgia in the CBS SEC game of the week. The Vols have looked solid thus far, winning in the trenches. The question is whether they can match up with Georgia up front, as no one else on the Bulldog schedule has to this point. If Tennessee can stop the Georgia running game, there is real opportunity to steal a victory here. Alas, I’m going to have to be shown evidence of any weakness in the UGA lines. Georgia holds serve in the SEC East.

     Arkansas visits Auburn at 3:00 PM. Interestingly, every team in the SEC West has won at least 1 game this season. This is a battle to rise out of the SEC West cellar, and I think Auburn will prevail.

     Alabama visits Ole Miss at 6:30 PM for an offensive showdown. I expect Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin to pull out every trick from his bag, but I don’t think Ole Miss is quite ready to compete with an upper echelon team like Alabama.

     Mississippi State will visit Kentucky at 6:30 PM as well. Predicted to be a dark horse in the SEC East race this season, Kentucky has started this year 0-2, and has to try to slow down a prolific Bulldog attack. The Wildcat defense has stopped the run pretty well, but has been carved up through the air. Mississippi State has played surprisingly good defense, especially against the run. The Wildcat passing game is very suspect. MSU basically beat themselves with turnovers last week against Arkansas, and I expect that they’ll improve this week, and hand Kentucky their 3rd loss.

     The Auburn Arkansas game has been moved to ESPN this week. We will have our usual Open Thread up and running. I’ll offer comments on various SEC games, and will have the play-by-play this week. I was in Waveland, Mississippi last weekend, and had neither cable TV or a reliable internet connection, and Waveland was out of range of the Auburn radio network. I should be back at full strength this week for the Razorbacks. War Eagle, and let’s rebound against the Razorbacks!

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