Crash and Burn Day for Frazier, Tigers

Mississippi State pulled away in the third quarter to take a 28-10 SEC football victory over Auburn the Tigers.

Starkville, Miss.--In the history of Auburn football there may have been worse days for a quarterback than the one Kiehl Frazier suffered through on Saturday, but if there are there can't be many.

The quarterback's coaches had so little faith in the sophomore's ability to throw the ball when the game was on the line in third quarter the offense went into a shell and by the time the Tigers decided open up again offensively it was too late.

At the end of three quarters, with Auburn trailing 21-10 in its 28-10 loss to Mississippi State, Frazier had thrown just 10 passes. Two were complete for a total of 18 yards and two were interceptions.

For the game Frazier accounted for all of his team's turnovers–three interceptions and two fumbles.

Auburn head coach Gene Chizik said the coaches never considered going to the bullpen and putting in the backup, Clint Moseley, who finished the 2011 season as the starter. While noting Frazier's struggles, the coach said the problems his team suffered through on Saturday were not on just one player's shoulders.

"We are going to go back and spend countless hours figuring how we are going to throw the football," said Chizik, whose team finished the day with 125 yards through the air and a large portion of that total coming late after the game was decided.

Auburn finished the contest with 91 rushing yards on 39 carries. For the game the Tigers were out-gained 388-216 by the Bulldogs, who snapped a four-game losing streak to the Tigers and improved to 2-0 on the young season. Auburn fell to 0-2 for the first time since the 2003 season.

"There were a lot of things that were really disappointing today," Chizik said. "I didn't feel like we ran the ball near as effectively as we needed to do to be able to win on the road. Obviously, the turnovers were very disappointing.

"Defensively, I thought we played well at times," Chizik added. "We were too sporadic at stopping the run. Again, I feel like there were some tackling issues out there--without question. We got out-played. That is the bottom line.

Cornerback T'Sharvan Bell (22) makes a good defensive play for the Tigers.

"We have got to improve as a football team--that is my job," added Chizik, who labeled the game a "dismal performance."

After the game Frazier said his first SEC start was "frustrating" and noted that he will be in the video room early on Sunday looking for ways to improve his play and make the offense more productive.

In contrast to Auburn's quarterback, Mississippi State got a rock solid performance from Tyler Russell, who completed 20-29 passes with no interceptions and three touchdowns.

Mississippi State had the first scoring opportunity on the opening possession of the game, but missed a 36-yard field goal into the wind.

The defense set up Auburn's first scoring opportunity as Jonathon Mincy stripped the football on a short pass play and the fumble was recovered by Jermaine Whitehead at the MSU 39.

The Tigers kept the ball for nine plays before settling for a 23-yard field goal by Cody Parkey with 9:40 left in the second quarter. On AU's two offensive trips into the red zone, the Tigers did not score a touchdown.

The only other points in the first half came on the following possession as Mississippi State moved 70 yards on seven plays. Tight end Marcus Green scored on a 30-yard pass from Russell to put the Bulldogs up 7-3.

Halftime Offensive Woes: After two quarters Auburn had netted just 65 yards on 31 plays. Converting 1-7 third downs was a major issue as was the passing game. Frazier completed just one pass to a teammate in seven tries before halftime for minus two yards to Philip Lutzenkirchen. Two other passes were intercepted.

Fortunately For the Tigers: Auburn trailed by just four points at intermission as the host Bulldogs missed a pair of field goals as they gained 157 yards on 31 plays.

Unwrapped: Mike Blakely, who carried the football just once in the opener, was Auburn's leading rusher at halftime with 38 yards on nine carries. However, he finished the day with just 42 yards on 11 runs.

Fourteen seconds into the third quarter the Tigers were up 10-7 as Onterio McCalebb took the kickoff one-yard deep and raced untouched for a score. Blocks by Avery Young and Jay Prosch helped spring the speedster.

The lead didn't last long as Russell's passing led the Bulldogs quickly down the field putting the home team up 14-10 with 11:35 left in the third quarter. Chad Bumphis caught a 13-yard pass from Russell to cap a drive that covered 75 yards on eight plays.

"Everyone maintained their confidence," Russell said of the go-ahead drive. "We knew we had to respond and I'm proud of the offensive line and running backs."

With Auburn's offense only able to produce one first down in the third quarter and offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler going ultra-conservative with his playing calling as Frazier struggled, the Bulldogs finished the period up 21-10 with Russell's third TD pass. This one was a three-yarder to Green with 4:38 left in the period.

An example of the lack of faith offensive coordinator Loeffler had in Frazier was calling a run up the middle for one yard on a third and six situation in the third period.

With Auburn's offensive struggles the Bulldogs didn't need any more points to win the game, but got seven more on a 21-yard run by LaDarius Perkins with 12:33 to the scoring in the SEC opener for both teams.

Auburn linebacker Jonathan Evans tackles Ladarius Perkins.

Auburn's Whitehead, who played his high school football at Elzy High in Greenwood, Miss., called his team giving up its third quarter lead "mind-boggling." The sophomore added, "We thought this was a game we could take. We missed a lot of opportunities out there."

Another sophomore, defensive tackle Angelo Blackson, agreed with Whitehead. "We had a whole bunch of opportunities as a team, especially as a defense. We just didn't produce at times. We took this one on the chin, but we are not going to give up."

Back In the Lineup: Demetruce McNeal, a 2011 starter at safety who was relegated to special teams in the opener, started ahead of Ryan Smith and led the Tigers in tackles with six solo stops and 12 assists.

Sellout: A crowd of 56,111, the ninth largest in Mississippi State, attended the game despite rain prior to kickoff. However, by 11:01 a.m. when the game started the rain had stopped.

Third Downs: Auburn's defense came into the game with a goal of improving on third downs after allowing Clemson to convert on 8-17 last week. The Bulldogs managed to make just 1-10, but Auburn's offense struggled on third down plays, too, converting just 2-12.

Up Next: The Tigers will play their home opener next Saturday vs. Louisiana-Monroe. Kickoff is set for 11:21 a.m. CDT.

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