Trotter, Auburn offense crumble against Razorbacks

Published 11:50 pm Saturday, October 8, 2011

By KALA BOLTON / Staff Writer

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Former Briarwood Christian School quarterback Barrett Trotter, a starter for the Auburn Tigers in his junior year, couldn’t make another miracle happen for the “cardiac cats” in Fayetteville as they snapped an 11-game SEC winning streak with a 38-14 loss to Arkansas Oct. 8.

“We did all the things tonight, all the classic things, that lead to losing,” Auburn head coach Gene Chizik said. “We turned the ball over on the road, dropped balls, guys who were wide open and we can’t hit them, the ball going through guys’ hands.”

With Auburn’s leading receivers Emory Blake and Trovon Reed sidelined due to injuries, Trotter completed only 6-of-19 passing for 81 yards and one interception.

Auburn kept its usual quarterback carousel up and running as freshman Kiehl Frazier took 15 snaps to add some dimension to what has, in the wake of Heisman winner Cam Newton’s departure, become a stale Auburn offense. Frazier carried the ball 13 times for 56 yards and one touchdown and completed 2-of-4 passing attempts for 18 yards and two interceptions.

The Tigers took a 14-7 lead in the first quarter after a 55-yard touchdown run from sophomore Michael Dyer, the longest run from scrimmage of his career, and a 7-yard touchdown scramble from Frazier.

Former Pelham High School standout Jake Holland, who started at middle linebacker for the Tigers, went down with a left leg injury on Arkansas’ first touchdown play with 6:53 remaining in the first quarter. Holland returned in the second half, assisting with two tackles on the night as he rotated in at middle linebacker with senior Eltoro Freeman.

Auburn’s offense quickly stalled as it was shut out in the next three quarters while the Razorbacks scored 31 unanswered points.

Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson took the Razorbacks up by seven on a 5-yard touchdown pass to close out the first half. Wilson hit 24-of-36 passes for 262 yards on the night, including completing 19-straight passes at one point, which is the third longest passing completion streak in SEC history.

The Razorbacks started their dominating second half performance with a 92-yard touchdown run. While the Auburn defense stepped up, forcing five straight Arkansas three-and-outs on following drives, the Tigers offense was unable to capitalize as two fourth quarter interceptions slashed any hopes of an Auburn comeback.

A Trotter pass flew threw the hands of DeAngelo Benton and into Razorback possession on an ensuing drive, setting up 26-yard field goal to give Arkansas a 31-14 led with 12:10 remaining in the game.

A second Frazier pass was picked off and returned to the Auburn 16-yard line with 7:17 remaining, and Arkansas running back Dennis Johnson scored the final points of the night from 33-yards out on a screen pass from Wilson.

“It was a combination of a lot of different things,” Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn said. “It was ugly football in the second half. Our defense played well enough to win, and we just have to put more points on the board.”

Dyer led the Tigers with 21 carries for 112 yards and one touchdown. Onterio McCalebb carried 13 times for 98 yards.

With three SEC match-ups remaining this month for the Tigers, quarterback performances are sure to stir up questions as to if Trotter should remain the leader of the Auburn offense going into home games against Florida and Ole Miss and a daunting road-match against LSU.

“We are going to move forward and learn from our mistakes and not let this game beat us twice,” Chizik said. “I saw some positive things when guys stepped up when our backs were against the wall. We kept fighting the whole game. We are gaining confidence.”