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Report card: Repeated mistakes burn Auburn again in loss to Arkansas

Michael Niziolek

mniziolek@ledger-enquirer.com

Report Card

Offense C: Auburn’s inflated point total due to multiple overtimes doesn’t get the offense extra credit. The drops by the wide receivers put the Tigers at a significant disadvantage throughout the game, and were hard for quarterback Sean White to overcome. White made a strong impression leading a last-minute drive to tie the game, and putting his receivers in spots to make long completions, but his numbers – 19 of 32 for 254 yards with no touchdowns - don’t reflect his positive contributions. The running game didn’t truly breakout until overtime behind Peyton Barber, and was non-existent for the first quarter and a half.

Defense D: Auburn’s inability to right the ship on defense is sinking its season. The Tigers couldn’t get off the field on third, struggled to contain Brandon Allen and allowed more than 450-plus yards. Last week, it made key plays to escape Kentucky with a victory, but on Saturday it had two chances to put the game away in overtime and failed to come up with stops on fourth down. Week to week the defense has few players it can consistently rely on. 

Special Teams A: One poor punt by Kevin Phillips isn’t enough to dent Auburn’s special teams grade. Despite going into the loudest part of Arkansas’ stadium in a high pressure, Daniel Carlson hit a 41-yard field goal to send the game into overtime with ease. Carlson’s range gave the offense added confidence on its final drive.

Coaching D: Auburn left too many yards on the field on offense, and the defense remains its own worst enemy. Coach Gus Malzahn said during the week he expected his team to play with urgency Saturday. The urgency didn’t show up until almost halftime, and that’s inexcusable. 

Overall C: Auburn is running out of time to make the improvements they have promised for seven weeks. The Tigers played with some passion down the stretch, but their general poor execution at times is troubling. The locker room is steady for now with no one pointing fingers in blame, but with so many young players in key spots its hard to figure out who will rally the team, and get them focused during the challenging portion of Auburn’s schedule that’s on-deck.

Michael Niziolek covers Auburn football for the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. Email him at mniziolek@ledger-enquirer.com or follow him on Twitter, Facebook or Google+

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