Auburn's second-half collapse at LSU not outlier, but trend

Annette Crawford
October 21, 2017

Just as Tigers head coach Gus Malzahn was winning the Auburn faithful back over as a potential SEC West title contender, a second half collapse against LSU gave fans and boosters more cause for concern.

Then there's the rift from nearly five years back, when Malzahn and Arkansas' Bret Bielema were fresh on their new jobs and exchanging barbs over hurry-up offenses and the risk for injuries, plus a minor flap over shared game film. Auburn is far from ideal, but look for the Tigers to get back into the win column with an easy victory over reeling Arkansas on Saturday night.

Kickoff at Razorback Stadium is set for 6:30 p.m. CT on the SEC Network. Arkansas is just 2-4 and 0-3 in the conference. "We've got to do better in the second half, especially when we have leads", Malzahn said Tuesday.

Auburn enters play at 5-2 (3-1) on the season and the No. 21 team in the nation.

AUBURN | Coming off a devastating loss at LSU.

"Auburn is very good", Enos said.

"Yeah, I think you have to", he said. "The last time we were went four overtimes". You've got the extra gap created by the quarterback, him carrying the football, so yeah, it demands attention. "They are ready to get back on the field". In this league, that's a very, very big deal. They control the rest from there.

LSU quarterback Danny Etling, for his style of play, had a big game against Auburn, completing 13-of-24 passes for 206 yards, a touchdown and most importantly, no interceptions. "The guys are eager to get back here, get in front of our fans". The Tigers became predictable on first downs with 17 straight run plays in those situations, and they were inefficient on third downs while totaling just 64 second-half yards. The Razorbacks' running game and offensive line struggles only add to the challenge facing the redshirt freshman from Lafayette, Louisiana. The Tigers still have the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Georgia Bulldogs left on the season slate.

"Well, I call it the Saban Rule", Pinkel said at the Northwest Arkansas Touchdown Club. "Not just amongst the players (but) amongst the coaches".

"They lose 12 starters and you see them the next year and it looks like they didn't lose anybody".

"I knew I had my work in front of us", Bielema said. We're going to do that - there's no doubt in my mind we will. "We're in position to win eight, nine games a year ago and don't play very well in the second half of our last two games. and turned it into a little bit of a harder job and a little bit more difficult".

"In today's world, man, everything wants to be negative", he said.

"They've tried to recruit a lot of our players, you know". It all kind of ties together. They got us at the very end.

"We're moving forward", he said.

Auburn had a dream start to the conference schedule - winning each of its first three games by at least three touchdowns - but couldn't sustain a hot start against LSU, getting outscored 27-6 after the first quarter. "I think that is evident".

"Last year it went a little sideways", Bielema said. "So that's our approach". Dan Enos, Arkansas' offensive coordinator, was asked if getting the running game going is as simple as not playing Alabama.

Even the 2012 Arkansas team, led by John L. Smith, tripped the Tigers 24-7 on the Plains two years after Auburn's national championship, perhaps sealing the fate of Coach Gene Chizik, who was sacked that November, less than two seasons after winning the national championship.

Can the Razorbacks hold their own at home and steal a win versus Auburn?

"It's easy to let that creep in but we don't have any place for that, we don't have any time for that".

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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