|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 09 October 2008 07:38|
Struggling No. 20 Auburn, having fired Franklin, looks to avoid its third SEC loss when it hosts Petrino and Arkansas on Saturday.
In his first year as head coach of the Razorbacks (2-3, 0-2), Petrino isn't coming close to the success he had in his one season as offensive coordinator with the Tigers (4-2, 2-2).
Six years ago, Petrino helped Auburn average 29.8 points, including two games in which it scored more than 50. That success helped Petrino earn his first head coaching job - at Louisville the following year.
Now, though, Auburn is struggling, and that led to the firing of Franklin on Wednesday.
terest of the Auburn football program to make this change," coach Tommy Tuberville said. "I'm not satisfied with where we are and I am personally going to take a larger role with the offense the remainder of the season.
"We are going to work harder than ever to make sure we consistently improve as we move forward."
Franklin brought a spread offense to the Tigers, a departure from the more conservative style Tuberville has favored. Tuberville said Thursday that assistant coach Steve Ensminger will run the offense the rest of the season.
Auburn's latest offensive debacle was in a 14-13 loss to then-No. 19 Vanderbilt on Saturday, producing 82 total yards and six first downs over the final three quarters of its first loss to Vanderbilt since 1955. Auburn is ranked 104th nationally in total offense.
Junior running back Ben Tate, the Tigers' top threat on offense with 501 rushing yards, could certainly use some help.
"We're definitely trying to find our identity," Tate said. "As an offense, to be truthful, we're just awful. There's no other way to put it. Your numbers don't lie. When you look at yourself on film, that doesn't lie either. Other teams are probably just licking their chops. We're just not good on offense right now. We just have to find a way to get better."
against Vanderbilt. Todd, who enters this week with the No. 1 spot, passed for 70 yards and two touchdowns but threw an interception on the first play of Auburn's final possession and was sacked four times.
Burns went 2-for-6 for 28 yards.
"There's no panic," Tuberville said. "We've just got to look ourselves in the eye. ... We've got to find ways to score more points and win games."
On defense, the Tigers have some injury problems. Tuberville said defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks (ankle) and cornerback Jerraud Powers (hamstring) are both as day-to-day.
Auburn's defense has kept the team competitive, allowing 11.1 points a contest.
That could be bad news for a struggling Arkansas offense. The Razorbacks have lost three straight games - albeit in a brutal stretch of schedule - to No. 9 Alabama, No. 7 Texas and No. 12 Florida by a combined 139-31.
Petrino, though, says his team is keeping the right mindset. Arkansas was competitive for most of last week's game, trailing 17-7 at the start of the fourth quarter before losing 38-17 to the Gators.
"I think it shows if you come out and prepare, work hard, you go to practice with a good attitude, that you get yourself in a position to win the game," Petrino said.
r the last two games and 18 times this season.
Junior Michael Smith continues to shoulder the burden at running back. He was the only back to receive a carry in last week's loss to Florida, running for 133 yards and a touchdown on 20 attempts to increase his season total to a career-high 423 rushing yards.
He has also tied a career high with three rushing TDs, while catching 18 passes for 171 yards and a score.
The last time they hosted the Razorbacks, on Oct. 7, 2006, the Tigers entered the game ranked second in the nation but suffered a stunning 27-10 defeat - their only loss in the last five meetings with Arkansas. Auburn holds a 10-6-1 edge in the all-time series.