Auburn coach Gus Malzahn didn’t offer any answers for the drops that plagued his team’s offense Saturday in 54-46 four overtime loss to Arkansas, but he didn’t offer many words of encouragement either.
“We just got to catch the ball, and do a better job,” Malzahn said.
The Tigers wide receivers accounted for seven drops, five on the offense’s first three drives, and a final one at the end of the fourth overtime.
Ricardo Louis, Melvin Ray, Tony Stevens, Stanton Truitt and Chandler Cox each dropped passes in the loss.
Louis led the Tigers for a second straight week with six catches for 79 yards, but his production was overshadowed by how many yards he left on the field with a team-high three drops.
The senior dropped two passes that would have gone for long gains in the opening quarter then couldn’t corral a throw from quarterback Sean White in the end zone that would have set up a 2-point conversion to tie in the fourth overtime.
“It’s going to hurt for awhile,” Louis said, of the loss. “I just have to come back stronger.”
Louis didn’t pin his struggles on any specific issue, just a general “lack of execution.”
Malzahn wouldn’t put the blame on one player, and defended Louis by pointing to the three catches the 6-foot-2, 215-pounder made with less than a minute to go in regulation as a key to setting up Daniel Carlson’s last second field goal.
The magnitude of the problem even caught the attention of current Auburn player Josh Hosley, who is at home recovering from a torn ACL. Hosley tweeted his surprise at the receiver’s performance during the game.
“I’ve never seen this many drops before from them,” Hosley said, in a tweet he since deleted.
Malzahn acknowledged the struggles prevented the offense from getting off to a “fast start.”
Auburn managed only one first down through the first quarter and a half, and that was on a penalty. During the stretch, the Tigers had three straight three-and-outs.
Louis said the offense can’t “rewind time,” and is hoping to quickly turn the page on the loss when the team returns to Auburn for practice Sunday.
“I’m going to make Ole Miss feel my pain,” Louis said.