Arkansas gets boost from ground game
Quarterback Tyler Wilson has done his best to carry Arkansas' offense through the first half of the season.
If the Razorbacks' 38-14 win over Auburn on Saturday night is any indication, Wilson might not have to do quite as much in the second half.
No. 10 Arkansas outscored the Tigers 31-0 after falling behind 14-7 in the first half on Saturday.
It did so with the help of Wilson's stretch of 19 straight completions to close the first half and open the second, one week after the junior threw for a school-record 510 yards in a win over Texas A&M.
The completion streak is the third highest in SEC history, but Wilson was more focused on his 12 incompletions in a 24 of 36 overall performance - in which he threw for 262 yards and accounted for three touchdowns.
''I think I should have hit every one of them,'' Wilson said. ''I look at my game and go `God, that wasn't very good.' I told (offensive coordinator Garrick) McGee that on the sideline, `There's a lot of plays out there that I wish I had back,' but 19 in a row is good.''
While Wilson picked apart the SEC's worst total defense, he received more than his usual share of help from the rest of the Arkansas offense.
The Razorbacks (5-1, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) entered the game as the league leaders in passing offense at 351.8 yards per game.
However, with junior running back Knile Davis out for the season with an ankle injury and a relatively inexperienced offensive line, they were ninth in the SEC in rushing with only 120 yards per game.
Senior receiver Joe Adams came close to equaling that total on his only carry against the No. 24 Tigers, a 92-yard touchdown run on Arkansas' first play of the second half.
Adams' run led an otherwise balanced Razorbacks offense that finished with 196 yards on the ground, with senior Broderick Green gaining 47 yards and junior Dennis Johnson 42.
''I liked the way we ran the football, especially early on (Saturday), and then Joe's big run just coming out of the half was huge for us,'' Wilson said. ''It took some pressure off of me. We didn't have to throw the ball 50 times (Saturday).''
Auburn's problems on offense against Arkansas had nothing to do with the run game.
The Tigers (4-2, 2-1) finished with 309 yards on the ground, led by sophomore Michael Dyer's 112-yard effort, but it was their anemic passing game led to the offense stalling time and again through downs or one of three interceptions.
Starting quarterback Barrett Trotter was just 6 of 19 passing for 81 yards, with only 27 yards passing in the first half.
That followed a 112-yard passing effort in a win over South Carolina last week for the senior, who saw more of his playing time slip away to freshman Kiehl Frazier against the Razorbacks.
Frazier appeared in control of the offense while running the ball, finishing with 54 yards rushing on 13 carries - including a 7-yard touchdown run in the first half.
The former Arkansas high school prep standout also completed his first two collegiate passes for 18 yards.
Auburn coach Gene Chizik said Sunday it ''was a total team loss,'' and he'll continue to evaluate every position, not just quarterback.
''I thought that our play could have been much better at the quarterback position, but it wasn't solely the quarterback, that's for sure,'' Chizik said.
''The pressure he was under some of the night was part of the effect. Five or six dropped balls were certainly part of the reason, one of those resulting in an interception.''
Frazier's two incompletions were caught - by Arkansas defenders who intercepted the freshman.
''It was definitely a step back in that way, but I feel like I got more comfortable in situations where I have to throw it in there, so it was a learning experience,'' Frazier said.
While Auburn's road ahead doesn't get any easier - with Florida next week and a trip to No. 1 LSU in two weeks - the Razorbacks have a bye next week.
After that, they travel to Mississippi and Vanderbilt before returning home against No. 15 South Carolina on Nov. 5.
With Wilson's first SEC win secure and his performance improving each week, Arkansas is likely to be favored in its next five games before closing out the regular season at LSU on Nov. 25.
''It's a good win for us,'' Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino said. ''Now we get to get a little week off and get ready for the next one.''