AUBURN, Ala. – Like going to the dentist, sitting in rush hour, or couples therapy, there are some things in life that are painful, but we’ve got to do them anyway.
One of those things is rehashing each of the eight sacks recorded Saturday by Arkansas – which only had seven sacks in its first five dreadful games, and none against Alabama or Texas A&M.
I have no videos to provide you, but if you watch the replay on ESPN3.com, you can watch along on the tape for all eight sacks. Here’s a written breakdown of the dirty details Auburn coaches are slaving over this morning:
Exhibit A: Kiehl Frazier 5-yard loss, sacked by DE Trey Flowers/DE Chris Smith
1st 9:27 | Line of scrimmage: 1st and 10, Auburn 42-yard-line
Ironically, Trey Flowers’ day didn’t start out ideally; he hops offsides before Auburn can run a play on its first possession. The Huntsville, Ala. native begins to make up for it four plays later, leaping over halfback Onterio McCalebb (who was apparently asked to pick up Flowers early, despite yielding five inches and 70 pounds … is there a chance right tackle Patrick Miller missed the read?) and pulling down Frazier, who after the playaction fake had just 1.5 seconds to throw the ball before contact. Smith also beat left tackle Greg Robinson around the edge, but while Smith was credited with a sack assist, the play truly belonged to Flowers. My view: after this miscue, Robinson can’t shoulder much blame for any of the seven sacks to follow.
Fault lies with: Blockers (Miller?, McCalebb, Robinson)
Exhibit B: Frazier 11-yard loss, sacked by MLB Alonzo Highsmith
1st 6:35 | LOS: 3rd and 7, Arkansas 33
In shotgun formation, the play begins routinely, with the Auburn line managing a 4-man rush by the defensive line. As soon as tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen is picked up by an outside linebacker in coverage, Highsmith sees his opportunity on a delayed LB blitz, racing up the middle and knocking down Frazier. Obviously a missed blitz pickup, but Frazier had a good three seconds to get rid of the ball. Not to mention, it’s an 11-yard loss, which turns what could have been a 50-yard Cody Parkey FG attempt into a Steven Clark punt.
Fault lies with: Little bit of O-Line, little bit of Frazier
Exhibit C: Frazier 12-yard loss, sacked by DT Robert Thomas (Flowers hurry)
2nd 13:06 | LOS: 1st and 10, Arkansas 44
This is where it gets ugly. Frazier actually makes the right presnap read, pulling tight end Brandon Fulse to the left side on a hot route, and Fulse is in the right spot for one blitzing Hog linebacker. However, after Frazier takes the snap out of the gun, Arkansas drops the other two ‘backers while Fulse and halfback Tre Mason stay home, matching seven blockers against five rushers. Translation: Frazier should end up with plenty of time to make a decision.
Except Miller’s day begins going south here, when Flowers drops Miller to the ground before shaking Mason and chasing Frazier out of the pocket after four seconds. Frazier initially pump-faked in Blake’s direction, but nobody’s open downfield with three receivers against six defenders. Instead of scrambling, Frazier ends up shading backwards, apparently expecting more free time. Except Thomas finally gets through right guard Chad Slade after being pushed away from the pocket at first. Point is, there’s no reason for a defensive tackle to get a sack when the QB’s in the gun. Again, coverage was solid, but Frazier has legs. He should use them. Unless he’s being told not to, which is a separate issue.
Fault lies with: Frazier
Exhibit D: Frazier 9-yard loss, sacked by DE Flowers (Smith hurry)
2nd 3:28 | LOS: 3rd and 10, Arkansas 23
And here we have the play which ended Frazier’s tenure as Auburn’s quarterback … however long that lasts. Once again, out of the gun, only this time, Mason and Lutzenkirchen head downfield as pass-catchers, leaving a traditional 5-OL-on-4-DL battle in the trenches. Arkansas’ only initial individual victory is Flowers throwing down Miller once again, but Slade saves him by shifting over to man Flowers. Robinson, left guard John Sullen and center Reese Dismukes have little trouble holding their blocks. Yes, Flowers’ first move initially flushes Frazier, but he had a full six seconds in the pocket to make a decision. Six seconds, when it’s 3rd-and-long square in field-goal range? That’s what offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler’s referring to when he says, “live to see another day” and throw the ball away.
On replay, Mason is open across the middle on a drag route, which Frazier could have dumped at least for a few more yards and get Parkey a little closer. Of course, he’s staring down Blake, posting deep downfield with two safeties on him. Lutzenkirchen’s route takes too long to develop, and Frazier’s indecisiveness leads to dancing around in the backfield. Flowers can’t be held down forever, picking up his second sack.
ESPN2 color man Joey Galloway (who, side note, has gigantic hands. Saw those monsters in the press box) comments: “This is one of the problems you run into with a young quarterback – he gets back in the pocket, starts to look around, doesn’t see much. Now he’s looking at the rush, he’s moving around with happy feet … you have to get rid of this ball. Either take off running, or get it out of your hands. But do not take a sack in this situation and set up a longer field goal.”
Right on cue, Instead of letting Parkey kick from 40 yards – peanuts for him – he has to try what would have been a career-long field goal, which he pushes wide right. After Frazier is intercepted in the final minute of the second half going for broke, Auburn goes to the half empty-handed, and that’s the last we see of No. 10.
Fault lies with: Frazier
Exhibit E: Clint Moseley 11-yard loss, sacked by DE Flowers
3rd 14:25 | LOS: 2nd and 13, Auburn 22
Moseley’s second snap of the year, he’s in the gun and audibles. Flowers is on Miller, who plays the part of a matador – barely getting his paws on Flowers as he bulldozes up the middle and drags down Moseley. Davyon McKinney was also in the backfield for a corner blitz, but it didn’t matter. Should be noted that Chris Smith got a perfect jump on the snap – and this wasn’t the only time he did, which is either a product of luck or great recognition of the QBs’ cadence – but Robinson handled him beautifully. Again, I didn’t watch all 67 plays on tape, but it seemed G-Rob played well. Arkansas’ defensive line was jumpy in general Saturday, prodded by DC Paul Haynes’ plea for aggressiveness. Anyway, it’s Flowers again, hitting Moseley after two seconds. After the play, Moseley’s caught on tape chewing out Miller, who goes back to the line on the next play squinting and showing some emotion.
Fault lies with: Offensive line (Miller)
Exhibit F: Moseley 17-yard loss, sacked by DE Flowers
3rd 9:03 | LOS: 3rd and 14, Auburn 37
Fifth time today an Auburn QB will get sacked out of the shotgun. Inexcusable. This time, it’s Slade totally whiffing on Flowers, who chases Moseley back to Toomer’s Corner for a major loss.
Fault lies with: Offensive line (Slade) for the sack, Moseley for the yardage
Exhibit G: Moseley 8-yard loss, sacked by OLB Terrell Williams
3rd 8:14 | LOS: 3rd and 15, Arkansas 44
Sixth out of shotgun. Empty backfield, Hogs call for a linebacker blitz, Williams gets completely ignored by Robinson and Sullen on the left side, somehow gets from LB depth to Moseley out of shotgun in 2 seconds (that’s country fast, son), and prods Beth Mowins to gush, “it’s Sack City on the Plains!” Apparently, Sack City was briefly trending on Twitter.
Fault lies with: Offensive line (Robinson, Sullen)
Exhibit H: Moseley 7-yard loss, sacked by DE Smith
4th 12:57 | LOS: 2nd and 6, Auburn 24
Moseley repositions McCalebb into the backfield after splitting out left. Doesn’t matter when Miller, for the final time, gets destroyed by Smith. Moseley was looking left for McCalebb in the flat, but has zero time to make a play.
Fault lies with: Offensive line (Miller)
So, to recap:
– That’s four sacks of Frazier, four of Moseley.
– That’s six sacks by the Arkansas defensive line (five by ends), two by linebackers.
– That’s four sacks in Arkansas territory, four in Auburn’s.
– That’s six sacks when the line of scrimmage was at least 10 yards away from the first down. All eight were six or more.
– And finally, that’s four sacks whose responsibility was on the offensive line or blockers, two sacks attributed to Frazier (but they were two important ones), and two with shared blame.
By the way, my prediction for Auburn’s starting quarterback this coming Saturday at Ole Miss: Kiehl Frazier. Nothing against Moseley’s character, who seems deadest on being a leader and contributing to this football team, but replacing Frazier accomplished nothing. However, he’s got to start making better decisions in the pocket.