FAYETTEVILLE -- The Arkansas Razorbacks offensive line continued to struggle with penalties, sacks allowed and the shuffling of personnel during their 52-20 loss to Auburn on Saturday.
Auburn racked up six sacks, including two that resulted in lost fumbles, and the Razorbacks were flagged for three holding calls and three false starts.
A holding call against center Frank Ragnow wiped out a 6-yard sack late in the second quarter that would have been a seventh sack for the Tigers.
Left tackle Paul Ramirez was responsible for one holding call and two false starts in the first half before Colton Jackson took over for him in the second half. Right guard Johnny Gibson had the third false start.
Tight end Jeremy Patton was also penalized for holding. The Razorbacks were penalized 7 times for 50 yards, with 6 of them by the offense for 45 yards.
"We were driving and we'd get a penalty or I'd take a sack and not get rid of the ball," Arkansas quarterback Cole Kelley said. "You can't get yourself into second and 20s. Not against a defense like that."
Gibson started at right guard after missing significant portions of practice time during the week. Right tackle Brian Wallace got up gingerly after a couple of plays, including a quarterback sneak in which the pile engulfed him.
Freshman Ty Clary picked up playing time for Gibson, including a series when Gibson had a shoe come off.
"Just again, numbers. I wish we had more healthy numbers," Coach Bret Bielema said of the offensive line. "Johnny Gibson really didn't practice during the course of the week. We tried to find the five best guys.
"Again, we've just got to continue to work and keep pursuing ourselves, keep bringing our guys along and hopefully develop some players in the next five weeks. Then, obviously, recruiting takes over."
Freshman Chase Hayden, the Razorbacks' leading rusher, will apparently be out for a while after suffering an apparent injury to his left foot or ankle.
Hayden was dragged down from behind by Auburn safety Daniel Thomas at the end of a 40-yard run in the second quarter, the Hogs' longest running play of the season.
Hayden shook off a tackler just past the line on a draw play and was running free until Thomas grabbed him from behind at the Auburn 40. Thomas appeared to land on Hayden's left foot as they crashed to the turf. Hayden came up limping and immediately headed to the Arkansas sideline for examination.
"It's a lower leg injury," Coach Bret Bielema said late Saturday. "Haven't confirmed it from there."
Arkansas defensive end McTelvin "Sosa" Agim, perhaps realizing that the Razorbacks were caught trying to change out personnel, fell to the turf as Auburn was taking the snap after a 50-yard tunnel screen to Darius Slayton on the Tigers' opening possession.
The Razorbacks had nine men on the field as Jarrett Stidham ran untouched 15 yards for a touchdown around the left side on a read option play.
"When they had a big play, we knew they tried to go as fast as they can, and somebody yelled for a substitution to go in and we just weren't able to do that," Bret Bielema said. "Made the adjustments after that play to make sure it didn't happen again."
0-4 in SEC
Arkansas has opened 0-4 in SEC play five times in 26 seasons in the SEC. Three of those 0-4 starts have come in the past five years under Coach Bret Bielema. The 0-4 starts occurred in 1996, 2005, 2013, 2014 and 2017.
Freshman quarterback Cole Kelley took all 68 offensive snaps for Arkansas against Auburn, with no relief from sophomore Ty Storey.
Senior Austin Allen showed improvement and range of motion in his right shoulder during the week but he did not dress out against the Tigers.
"Ty Storey, I think maybe if there was one more possession, but I think with Cole, we just wanted to keep repping him and getting him as many opportunities as we can," Bret Bielema said. "We didn't want to take him out of there on a negative note. Wanted him to be positive, and obviously getting that [fourth quarter touchdown] was big."
Arkansas converted on 5 of 16 third-down conversions, 0 of 7 in the first half and 5 of 9 in the second.
"It was impressive not giving up a third-down conversion in the first half," Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn said. "That quarterback [Cole Kelley] is a big man and he's hard to get to."
Malzahn touted a stop after Kevin Richardson's interception in the second quarter.
"We got a three and out after the pick and that was big," he said. "If they convert, they get momentum and the crowd gets into it ..."
Auburn converted a 9 of 15 third-down plays, including 6 of 10 in the first half.
Auburn sacked quarterback Cole Kelley six times and three of the sacks resulted in stripped-out fumbles. The Tigers recovered two of them, by Jeff Holland and DeShaun Davis and the third got kicked out of bounds by Auburn for a 7-yard loss.
Holland had 1.5 sacks and he forced fumbles on each of those plays, including a combo sack with Marlon Davidson. Auburn turned both of its sack-strip fumble recoveries into touchdowns, as well as a fumble recovery by Darrell Williams after the Razorbacks muffed a punt return in the second quarter.
Linebacker De'Jon "Scoota" Harris was the big man in Arkansas' goal-line stand in the second quarter.
Harris and linebacker Dre Greenlaw had the tackle on a Kerryon Johnson run up the middle on third and 2 from the Razorbacks' 3. The play was ruled a first-down gain on the field, but the replay booth overturned the spot, giving Johnson 1 yard to the 2.
On fourth down, Johnson tried to dive high over the pile up the middle, but Harris met him in the mid-section and Jonathan Marshall pushed him back high and Johnson could not get past the 2. A line judge spotted the ball at the 1, but the Tigers were still short, and Arkansas took over on downs.
The Razorbacks came inches away from scoring a special teams touchdown on their first punt.
Arkansas' Nate Dalton and Auburn's Nick Ruffin collided with punt returner Stephen Roberts just as Blake Johnson's punt was arriving at the Tigers' 23.
The ball skittered into the end zone, where Auburn's Carlton Davis tried to recover it, but the ball squirted free near the back line. Arkansas' Kevin Richardson pounced on the ball just before touching the back line, but he did not appear to gain full possession until the ball was out of bounds.
Referee David Smith announced a touchback after a lengthy huddle among the officiating crew.
Though there was no official booth review, replay official Ron Leatherwood and the SEC headquarters had plenty of time to determine the proper call.
Later, after Richardson jumped an out route for Will Hastings and made an interception, he was almost able to stop his momentum from going out of bounds. If Richardson had been able to turn upfield, he could have been in position for a touchdown return.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
RB David Williams
• Williams, a senior graduate transfer from South Carolina, led the Razorbacks in rushing with 86 yards. The Philadelphia native averaged 6.1 yards per carry on his 14 rushing attempts.
LBs Dre Greenlaw and De'Jon Harris
• Greenlaw, a junior from Fayetteville, led the Hogs with 13 tackles, including a game-high 9 unassisted stops. Harris, a sophomore from Harvey, La., had 11 tackles, including consecutive stops during the Hogs' second quarter goal line stand.
Sports on 10/23/2017
Print Headline: Line hurt by lack of cohesion