Auburn, Arkansas State looking to correct offensive issues
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) Auburn's offense has plenty of issues to work out after an opener marred by quarterback confusion.
Luckily for the Tigers, Arkansas State isn't in an altogether different boat heading into Saturday night's game at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Both lost their season openers after producing just one touchdown and playing multiple quarterbacks.
The Tigers (0-1) appear to have trimmed down their three-man QB rotation to starter Sean White and backup John Franklin III after a 19-13 loss to No. 2 Clemson. They're nearly three-touchdown favorites over Arkansas State (0-1), where Malzahn was head coach in 2012.
Auburn needs a strong performance to settle some of the unrest among fans that wasn't eased by the Clemson performance.
''We've kind of turned the page on last week,'' Malzahn said. ''We're focusing on them and getting ready to play good football.''
That will likely require another good game by tailback Kerryon Johnson and a repeat performance by a defense that did its part against Deshaun Watson and Clemson.
''It gives us great confidence to know that we can compete at a high level, because a lot of people say that's one of the most high-powered offenses that we're going to see all year,'' Auburn linebacker Deshaun Davis said.
Arkansas State's 266 total yards in a 31-10 loss to Toledo was only 4 more than Auburn managed in its own opener.
Now, the Red Wolves try to get going against a Southeastern Conference team.
''We're going to have a lot of matchup issues with these guys,'' Arkansas State coach Blake Anderson said. ''They're big. We're not going to have any mismatches in our favor. We're going to have to play perfect football and if we execute like we did last week moving forward, it's going to be tough to do that.''
Some things to watch for in the game:
QB PECKING ORDERS: Malzahn conceded his plan against No. 2 Clemson just didn't work, leaving Jeremy Johnson as the odd man out. Arkansas State expects to start Chad Voytik but could also play Justice Hansen. Voytick passed for 124 yards and netted 38 rushing yards in the opener.
BLOCKING ROLLAND-JONES: Arkansas State's Ja'Von Rolland-Jones is averaging .70 sacks per game in his career, second-best nationally among active players. Auburn's offensive line struggled against Clemson and allowed three sacks.
PLAYING SUN BELT: Auburn has a record of 23-0 against current teams in the Sun Belt Conference, including three wins over Arkansas State.
FRANKLIN'S ROLE: The Auburn backup is an unproven commodity as a passer, and didn't keep it on a handful of zone read plays either against Clemson. He seems likely to play some sort of role in the offense, at least as a runner.
CLEANUP JOBS: Both teams had some mistakes to work out after the first game. Auburn had two promising drives snuffed out by interceptions, among other issues. Arkansas State had such tackling issues that the Red Wolves allowed 176 yards after contact against Toledo, according to Anderson.
AP College Football website www.collegefootball.ap.org