Five Keys to Auburn
1. Contain Kiehl Frazier
Arkansas has struggled against dual-threat quarterbacks this year. ULM’s Kolten Browning and Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel were able to run around and make plays. Browning would be wrapped up in the backfield, but would escape and complete a pass. Manziel danced around and seemingly had days to find an open man or running lane. They ended up with 481 total yards and 558 total yards, respectively. While he hasn’t shown it much this season, many people remember Auburn sophomore quarterback Kiehl Frazier at Shiloh Christian High School as a player who could make plays with his arm and his legs. Arkansas can’t allow this to happen, or else they’ll suffer a similar result as they did against the Warhawks and Aggies.
2. Win the Turnover Battle
The Razorbacks have committed 15 turnovers and only forced two this season. This -2.6 per game turnover margin is dead last in the Football Bowl Subdivision. Not factored into this statistic are the 13 times Arkansas has fumbled and not lost the ball. Auburn has also struggled with turnovers this season, committing 12 and forcing four. In a matchup between two teams who have been struggling to put points on the board, turnovers could provide the extra possession needed to score.
3. Score in the Red Zone
Last week, Arkansas only scored once out of five trips inside Texas A&M’s 20-yard line. When a team is that close to the goal line, they should at least come away with a field goal. UA interim head coach John L. Smith said at his Monday press conference that “our ability to run the ball has hurt us” in the red zone. The offensive line must open holes for running backs Knile Davis and Dennis Johnson. Passing the ball in that short of field is difficult enough without the defense specifically covering the pass, so running the ball is necessary to make quarterback Tyler Wilson’s job easier.
4. Step Up Special Teams
In four games, Auburn has blocked three field goals. Also, senior kick returner Onterio McCalebb is averaging 36.83 yards per return, which is first in the Southeastern Conference and third in the nation. Arkansas must have sound protection on field goals to allow kicker Zach Hocker time to make an accurate kick. Hocker will play a huge factor in keeping McCalebb in check as well. Of his 23 kickoffs, 18 of them have been for touchbacks. If he kicks the ball through the back of the end zone or deep into the end zone, McCalebb will be a non-factor.
5. Watch Out for LB Daren Bates
Auburn senior linebacker Daren Bates leads the SEC with 11.75 tackles per game. He is also effective in coverage, with one interception and two pass breakups. Arkansas must know where he is on the field at all times. A player of Bates’ caliber is capable of shifting the game’s momentum. Against Clemson, he intercepted a pass at the start of the fourth quarter that led to an Auburn go-ahead field goal. However, Clemson was able to recover and pull out a victory. The way Arkansas has played recently, a late turnover like that would be devastating. Wilson and the offensive line have to make sure they don’t let Bates make a game changing play.