Jim Harris: Defensive Seniors Step Up Big For Razorbacks In Shutting Down Dyer, Tigers

by Jim Harris  on Sunday, Oct. 9, 2011 9:33 am  

Auburn running back Michael Dyer can't find running room against the Arkansas defense. (Photo by Mark Wagner)

This story is from the archives of ArkansasSports360.com.

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas' defensive effort against a run-oriented and so-far ridiculously fortunate Auburn football team got off to an inauspicious start Saturday night. On Auburn's second series, the Tigers converted a third-and-long situation with a rare pass and, on the next snap, from their 45, the Tigers gave it to sophomore Michael Dyer — maybe the most disliked native Arkansan on the field.

And, what was a simple running play to the short side of the field turned into a 55-yard sprint down the right sideline for the Little Rock Christian product, who was greeted in the south end zone by a loud chorus of boos. Surely those fans weren't giving the Bronx cheer to the continued poor tackling of the Arkansas defense, were they?

Auburn would drive 47 yards after a Razorback fumble to another touchdown on the ground, this time by yet another Arkansas product, freshman quarterback Kiehl Frazier, who did his best Cam Newton impression in diving in from 7 yards away.

Little did anyone realize as the first quarter was ending, with Auburn already having cranked out 141 rushing yards on 16 attempts, that the Tigers' scoring was done for the night and that it would take three quarters for the visitors to gain another 150 yards on the ground.

Passing? Are you kidding? Between receiver drops and poorly aimed throws, Auburn managed just 102 yards on 9 completions in 25 attempts. It took a trick flea-flicker to get any significant yardage for Auburn, and even that was a floating duck by Barrett Trotter that gave Hogs linebacker Jerico Nelson time to recover and hold the play to a 44-yard gain.

Meanwhile, the up-and-down Arkansas offense generated enough against the Tigers to make the contest an eventual rout, 38-14, before 74,191 fans at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

Arkansas, which executed perfectly on back-to-back touchdown drives in the second quarter, then saw receiver Joe Adams race 92 yards untouched from tailback early in the third quarter, only had to drive 16 yards for its last touchdown, thanks to the third Razorback interception of the game. Senior safety Tramain Thomas had that one, along with another earlier in the fourth quarter to set up a Zach Hocker field goal. Sophomore safety Eric Bennett had a third-quarter interception that halted an Auburn drive that was sparked by Frazier's running ability at quarterback.

Arkansas' defensive front, welcoming back senior end Jake Bequette after nearly a four-game absence because of a hamstring injury, played faster and stronger in setting up the linebackers, Jerry Franklin and Alonzo Highsmith, to have big nights. Franklin had 15 total tackles, including eight in the third quarter, when he began to physically dominate Dyer. Highsmith had 12 tackles. Nelson, an outside linebacker, bounced back from a rough outing last week against Texas A&M to record 10 tackles.

Highsmith had two tackles for 8 yards in losses. Franklin had 1.5 tackles for loss. Nelson shared on one as well. Tackle Byran Jones had a stop for loss and freshman end Lonnie Gosha added the Hogs' only sack.

Dyer, who had 78 rushing yards on 7 carries by halftime, managed just 34 in the second half on 14 attempts.

He had boasted earlier in the week that he would be "disappointed" if he didn't rush for 200 yards against the Razorbacks.

"Besides those comments, Coach [Bobby Petrino] said earlier that we weren’t a very good tackling team so far," Highsmith, a junior college transfer, said. "We took that to heart and we wanted to show we are a good tackling team."



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