Auburn-Arkansas: First Look

Despite a 1-4 record the Arkansas Razorbacks are a dangerous opponent because of the ability to score points led by quarterback Tyler Wilson.

Despite both teams standing with just one win on the season, Saturday's game between Auburn (1-3) and Arkansas (1-4) is one of the biggest of the season for both teams as they try to build momentum heading into the heart of the 2012 season.

Coming off an embarrassing 58-10 loss at Texas A&M last Saturday, the Razorbacks have plenty of weapons on offense to make this a tough game for Gene Chizik's club this Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

The biggest challenge for Auburn will be handling one of the most explosive passing games in the country led by quarterback Tyler Wilson. Missing the Alabama game and parts of two other games because of an injury, Wilson has still managed to throw for 1,355 yards and nine touchdowns with five interceptions this season. Completing 54.5 percent of his passes, Wilson is averaging 338.8 yards per game through the air this season.

His favorite target and one of the top wide receivers in the country is big-play threat Cobi Hamilton. With 31 catches for 591 yards and four touchdowns this season, Hamilton is ninth in the country in yards per game at 118.20. He is averaging over 19 yards per reception this season and will present a big challenge for Auburn's improving secondary.

Still yet to have a breakout game this season coming back from an ankle injury that cost him the entire 2011 season, running back Knile Davis is a player capable of taking over a game. Leading Arkansas with 273 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 82 carries, Davis is averaging just 3.3 yards per carry in 2012. As a team the Razorbacks are averaging just 106 yards per game on the ground, 111th in the country.

While the Arkansas offense is capable of putting up big numbers, on defense the Razorbacks have been dreadful in 2012, especially against the pass. In five games they have allowed 1,747 yards and 14 touchdown passes and are currently 117th in the country against the pass. Allowing 227 passing yards in the opener against Jacksonville State, the Razorbacks gave up 412 yards through the air in an overtime loss to ULM the next week.

The troubles were just getting started however as Alabama threw for 213 yards in a 52-0 win with Rutgers following that up with 397 yards and five touchdowns and no interceptions as the Scarlet Knights pulled off the upset in Fayetteville. Texas A&M put the finishing touches on a disastrous month for Arkansas last Saturday with 498 passing yards and 716 yards of total offense in a 58-10 blowout for its first SEC win.

Arkansas coming to town could be just what the doctor ordered for an Auburn offense that has just two touchdowns in 180 minutes against three BCS opponents this season. Averaging just 144.8 passing yards per game this season, the Tigers have just three touchdown passes and two of those came against ULM on a quarterback-throwback pass and a Hail Mary to end the first half.

With an Arkansas offense that has the ability to score, it's a must that Frazier and the Auburn offense get untracked this weekend and put some points on the board against a team that gives them up in bunches. More struggles could mean trouble not only for the Tigers, but for Frazier as freshman Jonathan Wallace is waiting in the wings for more playing time if called upon to give a spark to the offense.

A strong running game could be the key for Auburn as it would help take pressure off the passing game and also keep Arkansas off the field on offense. One of the keys to the Tigers' offense, sophomore running back Tre Mason leads the team with 53 carries for 275 yards this season. It's no coincidence that in Auburn's two best offensive games, Clemson and ULM, Mason had 36 carries for 196 yards.

Against Mississippi State and LSU he carried the ball just 17 times for 79 total yards. With the ability to take it the distance every time he touches the ball and also doing a solid job of running between the tackles, more touches for Mason and back up Mike Blakely could equal more one-on-one opportunities in the secondary for the Auburn passing game and the big plays the Tigers need to pull off the win.


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