On a day the Auburn Tigers were looking to put themselves in great shape in the SEC West race and avenge last season's disappointing loss to Arkansas, they could manage neither.
"We didn't play as well as we needed to on either side of the ball or special teams, but that is my fault," Tuberville said after watching his Tigers fall 38-17 and 2-1 in the SEC. "We had two weeks to get ready and I thought we could play a few defensive schemes that didn't work. We tried to be aggressive on the option and we missed tackles. When they broke the line it was six points."
The Razorback doing the most damage was tailback Fred Talley, who bewildered the Tigers with 241 rushing yards on 21 carries. However, he had plenty of help. The Tigers gave up touchdown runs of 80, 44 and 70 yards on the way to allowing a mind-boggling 426 rushing yards on 45 carries. Coach Houston Nutt said his Arkansas offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage and there was absolutely no question about it as the Tigers took one of their worst home whippings in many years.
The Auburn offense moved the ball much of the afternoon with 392 total yards, but was its own worst enemy. Daniel Cobb was booed by Auburn students who were unhappy with his performance. Tuberville said he didn't hear that and wouldn't comment on it, but players like junior tackle Mark Pera did who said, "That was really disappointing."
The starting QB was 13-23 passing for 225 yards. He threw one touchdown, was intercepted twice and lost a fumble on a running play on the opening series of the day. It was an omen of what was to come.
Jason Campbell got the call to start the fourth quarter with Auburn trailing 31-17. However, despite completing 8-11 passes for 63 yards with no interceptions, he couldn't get the football into the end zone.
Tuberville said he doesn't know who will be the starting quarterback next week as the Tigers travel to Gainesville. The head coach sounded more concerned about the defensive lapses.
"I thought we could go in and be more aggressive and attack the line of scrimmage," Tuberville said. "That just wasn't our type of football. Offensively, we moved it, we just didn't make plays. We were a little inconsistent. They made the plays when they had it. Offensively, we didn't make it. It was a hard fought game. Both teams played hard. It kind of reminded me of last year. They made plays and we didn't. We are still searching for that big play."
Arkansas used the game's first turnover to open the scoring by driving 51 yards on 10 plays after Cobb fumbled on a 12-yard run.
With Matt Jones at QB, the Razorbacks did most of the damage on the ground. D'Arrius Howard scored from from four yards out at center with 3:13 to play in the opening quarter.
Auburn immediately answered to tie the game at 7-7. Following a Roderick Hood return to the 35, Cobb looked deep to freshman wide receiver Devin Aromashodu over the middle. With Batman Carroll covering him man to man, Aromashodu made the catch over the middle, put a move on and was gone for a 65-yard touchdown with 2:50 left in the first quarter.
Aromashodu hauls in a pass from Cobb and takes it for six.
Auburn used a turnover to take the lead. Junior Rosegreen picked off a pass thrown by backup quarterback Tarvaris Jackson from Montgomery, putting the Tigers in business at the Arkansas 18. However, the Tigers couldn't move the ball and settled for a 33-yard Damon Duval field goal and a 10-7 edge.
The lead didn't last long as the Razorbacks brought Jones back into the game and all he had to do was hand off the ball to his running backs who had huge holes to run through. It took just six running plays to move 80 yards with fullback Mark Pierce diving over the top for the touchdown with 12:58 left in the second quarter. That put the visitors ahead 14-10.
Three plays later, Auburn turned it over again as Cobb was picked off trying to throw the ball deep to Aromashodu after he was flushed out of the pocket. However, a big 10-yard sack by Karlos Dansby stopped the bleeding and then the Razorbacks missed a 50-yard field goal to allow the Tigers to escape with no further damage on the scoreboard.
However, there would be plenty of more damage before halftime after Auburn regained the lead with an impressive drive that covered 89 yards in eight plays. Cobb hit Silas Daniels for 41 yards to move the ball into Arkansas territory. Carnell Williams scored from nine yards out on second and goal with a brilliant run at right end to put the Tigers on top 17-14.
Just like Auburn had matched a TD one play later, the Razorbacks did it on an 80-yard Fred Talley scamper through the defense. Nobody put a hand on the tailback until Carlos Rogers tried to stop him on the sideline at the Auburn seven. That play gave the Razorbacks a 21-17 lead and stunned the home crowd.
What happened next put them into a halftime stupor as Duval's first punt of the game with 31 seconds was blocked putting the Razorbacks in business at the Tiger 12. Because they had no timeouts, the Tigers could have run out the clock if they had not tried a pass on third and 20 and that strategic error would come back to haunt them. Arkansas managed to run three plays before settling for a 22-yard five goal with five seconds left to stretch the halftime margin to 24-17.
At the break, the Tigers had given up 281 total yards with 179 coming on 13 carries by Talley. Auburn had 214 yards with the Cadillac at 76 yards on 17 runs.
Auburn couldn't put the ball in the end zone in the second half and Arkansas put the game away with a 44-yard touchdown run by fullback Mark Pierce with with 7:44 left in the third quarter to make it 31-17 and a 70-yard QB keeper by Jones to rub salt in the wound with 2:35 left in the fourth quarter.
Pierce's run on fourth and one was a backbreaker. "We had a slant on and we were going the other way," said defensive tackle DeMarco McNeil.
The Tigers hit the road for game seven next week as they face the Florida Gators at 5:45 p.m. Central in a game that will be televised by ESPN.
Turning Point: Fred Talley's electrifying 80-yard touchdown to answer Auburn's most impressive drive gave the Razorbacks the lead for good at 21-17 a shot of confidence.
Highlight Of The Day: Freshman Devin Aromashodu beat Batman Carroll one-on-one for a 65-yard TD pass for Auburn's first score.
Lowlight(s) Of The Day: Auburn's defensive front getting overpowered at the point of attack and linebackers over-running plays against the cut-back style employed by the Arkansas running backs.