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December 21, 2014

Auburn analysis: Auburn 45, Arkansas 21

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Posted: Saturday, August 30, 2014 9:53 pm | Updated: 9:58 pm, Sat Aug 30, 2014.

Offense

Despite keeping first-team quarterback Nick Marshall on the sideline for the entire first half, the Auburn offense was fairly impressive Saturday afternoon. Running back Cameron Artis-Payne showed why he was chosen as the successor to Tre Mason, rushing for a game-high 177 yards. Junior college transfer wide receiver D’haquille Williams may have had the biggest impact of the game, as he caught nine passes for 154 yards and one touchdown. When Marshall came into the game to start the second half, it opened up more of the running attack for the Tigers, which began to slack toward the end of the first half.

Defense

Early on the Auburn defense struggled. The Tigers had trouble stopped a trio of Arkansas running backs, and this set up the play-action pass for the Razorbacks, which also started to cause problems. Jermaine Whitehead and Cassanova McKinzy were always the first defensive players to the ball, and it became quite apparent they wanted to be a force. 

Special teams

After losing place-kicker Cody Parkey and punter Steven Clark from last season’s team, head coach Gus Malzahn went with redshirt freshman Daniel Carlson to handle both duties this year. He was impressive in his first start, too. He missed his first field goal attempt, but connected with a 45-yarder in the fourth quarter. He also pinned the Razorbacks inside the 20 on two occasions with his punts.

Coaching

With Nick Marshall sitting out because of off-season trouble involving marijuana, Auburn coach Gus Malzahn went with Jeremy Johnson to start the game, allowing him to play the entire first half. Malzahn made the switch at halftime, and no matter which quarterback was in the game, everything Malzahn called seemed to be exactly what the Tigers needed when they needed it.

Overall

Auburn’s performance Saturday afternoon against Arkansas was a bit of an adventure. The Tigers opened the game with Jeremy Johnson, who completed his first eight passing attempts, but then the offense fizzled out as halftime approached.

Throughout the first half, the Tigers’ defense struggled to stop the Razorbacks’ trio of running backs, in addition to their play-action calls. However, adjustments were made during halftime, and the Tigers didn’t allow any more points. Marshall provided a spark in the second half, and helped led his teammates to the victory, after being tied 21-21 heading into halftime.

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