Auburn, Ala.--Quarterback Brandon Cox says it didn't take him long to know that this wasn't going to be Auburn's day in the sun. It started early as the Tigers hit for a quick first down and moved the ball across midfield. The next play what was supposed to be a throw back play from Tre Smith to Cox resulted in a 12-yard loss. That set the tone for what would become a very frustrating day for the offense.
"We started the game with a couple of good plays and then had a setback trying the trick play," Cox says. "Then we kind of lost momentum. We did that a couple of times where we would move the ball a little bit and have a penalty that set us back or a sack or something. We just couldn't finish our drives. We moved the ball pretty well in the first half but we just couldn't finish it."
His feeling about the day didn't get any better later in the first quarter as Arkansas quarterback Mitch Mustain threw up a prayer that Marcus Monk pulled down and raced untouched 50-yards into the end zone for a score.
"It was one of those days," Cox says. "I know when they threw up that ball when he was about to get sacked. They make a one-handed catch and he ran for a touchdown. After that I just shook my head and I had a feeling it was going to be long day after that."
Cox throws a touchdown to Rodgeriqus Smith while being pressured.
A long day doesn't begin to tell the whole story for Cox and the offense as the Tigers never got in sync and finished the day looking for an answer that never came. With just 153 yards through the air on 17-29 passing and 60 yards rushing, Auburn's offense struggled once again to get it done and looked a lot like the offense that took the field in last year's bowl loss to Wisconsin. Cox says he thinks they played much better this time but things just didn't go their way.
"I think we played better in this game than we did against Wisconsin," Cox says. "It was just in this game things went wrong that we couldn't help. We played well and had great effort. Everybody was playing hard. Just a lot of things went wrong that we couldn't control."
While the running game was fine despite having just a few touches, it was the passing game that didn't live up to expectations against a Razorback secondary that has struggled this season. Sacked five times and knocked down numerous others, Cox says that it was a multitude of things that caused the passing game problems.
"They were switching up on us," Cox says. "They would go from man to zone and keep switching it back and forth. Sometimes we didn't have the right plays dialed up and sometimes they covered them. You kind of take it and move on.
"There at the end they were playing a lot of guys back in the zone and it was covered up a lot of times," he adds. "It's tough but we have to recover and learn from our mistakes and get better."
With problems protecting the quarterback as well as receivers not able to get open, it's no wonder the passing game didn't have a good day. Cox wasn't immune to the problems as well as his day included several bad throws and times when he could have gotten rid of the ball to avoid sacks.
"There were a couple of balls I would like to have back that I threw," Cox says. "I threw a couple of bad balls. With the running game I made a couple of checks that were good and I missed a couple. It was an average day."
Cox and the offense now have the challenge of facing the league's hottest team in the Florida Gators. Winners over LSU in Gainesville Saturday, Florida will be a challenge for an Auburn team reeling after falling out of the national championship chase. Cox says that in the end it may help this team to have the pressure taken off and get back to just playing football.
"There has been a lot of pressure on us and people talking about having to win big and get style points and all that," Cox says. "Now you have to throw all that out the window. You learn from this game. We made a lot of mistakes and we'll get better. We have to move on to next week and Florida."