Arkansas Offens-ive

FAYETTEVILLE — Oh boy. This was not what Arkansas offensive coordinator David Lee had hoped for. And this certainly wasn't what an already beleaguered fan base wanted to see from the Razorbacks' offense.



Running back Darren McFadden's chances of winning the Heisman Trophy suffered a severe blow Saturday night in front of a national TV audience and 72,463 fans in Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

At the same time, Arkansas' offense gained a season-low 193 yards and didn't come alive until the very end of a 9-7 loss to No. 22 Auburn.

It proved to not be enough.

A little more than a minute after Arkansas scored its only touchdown of the night, Auburn kicker Wes Byrum booted a 20-yard field goal with 21 seconds to pull out the victory.

"We had one drive, a very important drive. I thought that would be enough to win the game as well as our defense was playing," Arkansas coach Houston Nutt said. "But we didn't get it done at the end."

There could be plenty of fallout from Saturday's loss, which dropped the Razorbacks (3-3) into an 0-3 hole in the Southeastern Conference.

Arkansas' chances of returning to Atlanta to play in the SEC Championship Game likely came to an end with its worst offensive performance of the season.

The Razorbacks gained only 67 yards rushing, 271 yards below their season average. Coincidentally, McFadden gained just 43 yards on a night when he became Arkansas' all-time leading rusher.

With McFadden struggling to find holes and fellow running back Felix Jones getting only six carries for 42 yards, Arkansas earned just seven first downs and punted nine times.

"It's frustrating. Sometimes things don't go your way," said Arkansas quarterback Casey Dick, who completed 12-of-26 passes for 111 yards with one touchdown and an interception.

"You've got to put some more points on the board for your defense. We've got to regroup and get some things all right."

More importantly, though, Saturday's close loss won't sit well with those Razorbacks' fans who have openly called for Nutt's job.

Before kickoff, a plane flew a banner around the stadium reading, "Players & Fans Deserve Better — Fire Nutt."

"The biggest thing I have to do is make sure that (my players) don't listen to outside forces and keep my family very close — this Razorback family very close," Nutt said. "I know it will be more difficult this time, but we can handle it. We can do it."

Arkansas came within only a few minutes of being shut out for the first time in Fayetteville since Oct. 8, 1966. But then the offense — which had looked dormant for much of the night — finally awoke trailing 6-0 with 4 minutes and 19 seconds remaining.

Lee got creative with his playcalling, allowing McFadden to throw a long pass to wide receiver London Crawford that resulted in a pass interference penalty.

On the next play, wide receiver Robert Johnson threw a 15-yard pass to fullback Peyton Hillis.

The Razorbacks took their first lead of the night when Dick tossed a perfectly placed pass to former walk-on sophomore Lucas Miller in the corner of the end zone for a 13-yard touchdown strike with 1:36 left.

"It's a read play and Casey made a great throw. It was a great ball, and all I had to do was fall in the end zone," Miller said.

"I felt pretty good about and our defense played great all game. We thought we won it, but they won that last drive."

Arkansas needed six plays to gain 71 yards on its only scoring driving. Before that drive, though, the Razorbacks had amassed just 122 yards of offense.

Following the touchdown, the Tigers (5-2, 3-1 SEC) got the football with 1:36 left and one last chance to win the game.

They proceeded to drive 50 yards in 1:15, setting up Byrum to boot the game-winning field goal. The kick spoiled a mostly impressive showing from Arkansas' defense.

"I'm really proud of our players and the way they fought. I apologize to Arkansas fans," Arkansas defensive coordinator Reggie Herring. "We didn't get it done in the end."

Arkansas' offense looked one-dimensional in the first quarter, running the football eight times and allowing Dick to attempt just one pass.

The result: The Razorbacks gained only one first down and 10 yards of total offense (five yards rushing, five yards passing).

Still, Arkansas got inside Auburn's territory on its first four possessions, thanks to a few breaks on special teams. But the offense came away with no points on the four drives.

The closest the Razorbacks came to scoring was when they got to the Auburn 24 to set up kicker Alex Tejada for a 41-yard field goal attempt. The usually reliable freshman hooked it wide right, though.

It was one of those kind of nights.



THAT FIGURES

3 Consecutive losses for Arkansas at home against Auburn

43 Season-low rushing yards for Darren McFadden

483 Total offense combined by Arkansas and Auburn

2005 Last time Arkansas started 0-3 in Southeastern Conference play

3,582 Career rushing yards for McFadden, which sets a school record surpassing the previous mark of 3,570 held by Ben Cowins

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