"You do worry about it," Petrino said of the lack of confidence. "Sure you do. You do that with both quarterbacks. We have to get our confidence back. We have to make sure that we take care of the football. We just don't want to play like we did in the second half where we're spread out and throwing it. It's putting all the game on the quarterback's hands. That's not what we want to do.
We want to be able to play like we did the first half, run the ball and hit some deep play-action passes. You look at Carnell, I think he had 17 carries in the first half and only seven in the second half. A couple of calls in the second half for him to run was just me thinking. ‘I have to give him the ball to see if he can make a play or not.' It didn't work out."
Sophomore Carnell Williams rushed for 99 yards on 24 carries Saturday afternoon. He had 76 yards on 17 carries in the first half.
That also means confidence in the passing game. Despite throwing for 288 yards on 21-of-34 passing, the combined quarterback duo put up some yards but failed to get the offense into the end zone in the second half. Some of the blame has to go to the offensive line as well. The pass blocking against the unorthodox Hog blitzes was shaky at best leaving the quarterbacks to fend for themselves at times. Still senior receiver Marcel Willis said this team has a lot to play for in the coming weeks.
"We just have to get better," Willis said. "We're still in contention for the SEC Championship so not too much has gone down the drain. We're still going to keep our heads up."
Defensively, the confidence is at an all-time low following the bashing they took Saturday against Arkansas. Giving up 9.5 yards per carry on the day, they were beaten in every phase of the running game. That's something that may have come from preparing too much for the talents of quarterback Matt Jones. A dangerous runner on the option play, the Tigers held him in check until a late 70-yard touchdown run. With just 66 yards on the day, the defense did the job on him but at the expense of a career day from Fred Talley.
"We spent the majority of the week on him," defensive end Reggie Torbor said. "He's a good quarterback and he's been making plays for them all year. Especially after what happened last year we spent a great deal on him and concentrated on shutting him down. They tried to run him a couple of times early and we stopped him in the backfield. I don't know if that had anything to do with it or not. They had a good game plan and it worked."
Defensive tackle Demarco McNeil summed it up best for the Tigers following Saturday's game. One of the more experienced Auburn defenders, he said that there's nothing much you can say about what happened Saturday.
"He just ran the ball on us. He did a great job of running. He ran hard and he ran downhill. He's a great running back...basically they just outmanned us. That's our fault on the defensive line. We just have to get better."