Auburn Tigers vs Arkansas: Final Thoughts on Week 1


Aug 30, 2014; Auburn, AL, USA; Auburn Tigers quarterback Nick Marshall (14) celebrates his third quarter touchdown against the Arkansas Razorbacks with offensive linesman Chad Slade (62) at Jordan Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

It has been a few days since the Auburn Tigers hosted Arkansas in the first game of the 2014 season. As we begin to look ahead to a Week 2 showdown with the San Jose Spartans, here are some final thoughts from Week 1.

What We Learned:

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Jeremy Johnson is going to be a star. He may not be the starting quarterback for the remainder of the 2014 season, but Jeremy Johnson proved he will be a very good option for the Tigers once Nick Marshall graduates. In only one half of football, Johnson compiled 243 passing yards and two touchdowns on 12-for-16 passing. The 6-foot-5 sophomore showed a strong and accurate arm, and should give Tigers’ fans confidence that Auburn will have a solid, and perhaps spectacular, quarterback for the next two or three seasons.

Robenson Therezie is a playmaker. We did not know that Therezie would play on Saturday until nearly 10pm, and he didn’t see the field much until the third quarter. However, the senior Star provided one of the biggest plays of the game when he blitzed through the Arkansas offensive line and put a big hit on quarterback Brandon Allen that forced the game’s only interception – one that Jermaine Whitehead returned for a touchdown. Therezie also forced a fumble with another crushing blow, but the Hogs recovered.

The Tigers are just fine at running back. Most Auburn fans already knew the Tigers would run the football effectively, but one of the big concerns in the national media was whether or not the Tigers could replace Tre Mason at running back in 2014. Seniors Cameron Artis-Payne and Corey Grant proved that they can fill Mason’s shoes this season by combining for 264 of Auburn’s 302 rushing yards and two of the team’s three rushing touchdowns. Both running backs broke loose on long runs, with Artis-Payne leading the way on a 32-yarder and Grant following with a 24 yard run. The pair combined to average 7.3 yards per carry and both showed quickness and power on separate occasions.

The coaching staff can make adjustments.

Aug 30, 2014; Auburn, AL, USA; Auburn Tigers quarterback Nick Marshall (14) passes the ball during the second half against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Jordan Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

After being gashed for 151 rushing yards and three total touchdowns in the first half against the Razorbacks, the defense bowed their necks in the second half and dominated Arkansas. Ellis Johnson and his defensive coaching staff were able to increase the pressure up front with extra linebackers close to the line of scrimmage, and the defensive line was more effective holding their ground and not getting too far up the field – which was a problem early. After the half, the Hogs could only manage two rushing yards, and failed to score.

But, the defense wasn’t the only unit that changed after halftime. With Nick Marshall in the game at quarterback, the Tigers were able to incorporate him into the running game. In the first half, Jeremy Johnson did not attempt to run at all. Marshall, on the other hand, carried the ball eight times, which shows that the offensive coaching staff adjusts to the strengths of the players on the field.

Daniel Carlson can kick. And punt. The SEC Freshman of the Week proved that he is the best man for both jobs on Saturday by connecting on a 45-yard field goal, booming kickoffs through the back of the end zone and averaging 53.3 yards per punt. Most impressive was the first punt of Carlson’s career, which travelled 61 yards in the air and allowed the Tigers to pin Arkansas deep in their own territory.


Concerns That Remain:

The defensive line needs a pass rusher.

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  • There is size and talent on the defensive line for Auburn, but none of the players up front have proven to be effective at getting to the quarterback. Sacks are great, but as Therezie showed us, sometimes just putting the quarterback under pressure or causing him to panic can lead to a momentum-grabbing play.

    Ellis Johnson was able to get more pressure on the quarterback from linebackers Cassanova McKinzy (two TFLs, one sack, one forced fumble), Kris Frost (three QB hurries) and Therezie, but someone needs to step up on the defensive line for Tigers fans to feel comfortable about the pass rush situation.