Arkansas suffered arguably their toughest loss since the numerous heartbreakers in the 2014 season. The storylines for the Auburn game were built in. The most obvious one was the former head turned Auburn offensive coordinator Chad Morris who was sharing all his “inside information” he could give to the Auburn defense.
I think a lot of the interest in this game was to see if the Hogs could get “revenge” against a coach who said they weren’t good enough. That they were unacceptable to build a program around.
Anyway, Arkansas had several special teams gafs that really hurt them. The blocked punt that led to a 7-0 Auburn lead early. It looked clear as day that the Hogs were having a victory hangover. The game continued on through the first half as the Razorback offense finally resembled one of a Kendal Briles coached team.
Feleipe Franks played the best ball of his career as he passed for over 300 yards in a game for the first time in his career. His four passing touchdowns were also the most for a quarterback since 2015 versus Mississippi State when Brandon Allen threw for seven.
The Razorback offense has continued to develop throughout the first three games of the season. Today, they were able to compile over 400 yards in total offense for the first time under Briles which will give hope moving forward that they are heading in the right direction on both sides of the ball.
Running back Trelon Smith recorded 81 yards rushing and 78 yards receiving as he showed himself to be a new dependable offensive weapon for the Razorbacks. Wide receiver De’Vion Warren has also proven himself as a huge weapon at receiver as he nearly went for 100 yards again. Warren had five receptions for 95 yards and two touchdowns. Big kudos from him and how the new staff has utilized him to the best of his abilities. Side note, I hope he considers coming back for a fifth year in 2021!
The defense wasn’t nearly as sharp this week surrendering 30 points and 400 yards of total offense but when needed they did step up. Down their two best defensive backs, starting a walk-on at the position and still missing their best defensive end Barry Odom continues to gameplan well and his team responds.
Special teams have been all but special as nearly half of their penalties came in that part of the game. It’s week three, Coach. It is time to get that corrected. Punt protection, kick/punt coverage and limiting procedure penalties all hurt Arkansas tonight and it ultimately cost the Hogs the victory.
Honestly, I am not one to call out officiating crews because it’s tacky. Especially, when when it is the team you cover but there is no doubt EVERYONE is questioning the botched officiating at the 00:30 mark in the fourth quarter. The play that ultimately catapulted the Auburn Tigers to a victory* tonight.
We all know how it went. A fumbled snap that led to a spike (backwards lateral) that was recovered by the Razorback defense immediately. Razorback fans were jubilant. Jumping up and down and calling the Hogs because the Razorbacks has possession.
That feeling ended quickly as that was not actually the happened. The officials told Razorback head coach Sam Pittman that they blew the play dead after the spike. As you are taught from the very beginning of football to the big leagues that officials let the play develop. If there is a turnover or something that results in a review the officiating crew can sort it out afterwards. There was an explanation about the play released by the SEC office after the game:
Statement on play at :30 to go in fourth quarter of Arkansas-Auburn game. pic.twitter.com/L1UQRlFx2M— SEC Officiating (@SECOfficiating) October 11, 2020
If you rewatch the play, you will see the ball is snapped at the 00:30 mark with the “spike” happening at the 00:29 mark and then a fumble recovery at the 00:28 mark. If that is not an immediate recovery I am not sure what is.
If that is the case and there is a missed officiating call that dictates the outcome of a football game it needs to be able to be reviewed. A way to overturn a blown call should be the next step that needs to be made by the NCAA. Clarity is needed but will never be accepted by the Razorback Nation. Nothing will heal the wound that was caused by the SEC Officiating crew tonight. To most Hog fans, it has become a callous as there have been a handful of games in recent memory that have been losses resulted by blown calls by many SEC officiating crews through the years.
What we do know is this team knows how to fight. This team knows they can win in the SEC and be competitive against teams that we have been told that we have no business being on the field against. These Hogs are growing up, they are turning the ship around and are giving fans something to be proud of and that makes me very happy. It makes it so much easier to write about. Go Hogs!