Bob Holt is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and a voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 basketball poll. Holt has been awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year three times.
Trelon Smith impresses in first start
All the praise University of Arkansas running back Trelon Smith received from coaches and teammates last season when he redshirted and in preseason practice this year wasn’t just talk.
Smith is the real deal as he showed Saturday when the Razorbacks pushed No. 13 Auburn to the limit before the Tigers won 30-28 on a last-second field goal by Anders Carlson.
“Me personally, I feel like I stepped up to the plate,” said Smith, who filled in for injured starter Rakeem Boyd, who didn’t travel to Auburn. “I felt like I did what I was supposed to do in the run game, pass-blocking game and also the passing game.”
Smith, a sophomore who redshirted last season after transferring from Arizona State, got his first start with the Razorbacks and led them with 21 carries for 81 yards and had 6 receptions for 78 yards, including a 5-yard touchdown catch from Feleipe Franks.
“I feel like I did a good job across the whole board and moving forward toward the next game,” Smith said. “I just plan on just staying neutral, steady working and just getting the job done when my number is called.”
Razorbacks Coach Sam Pittman said he wasn’t surprised by Smith’s performance.
“He practices that way,” Pittman said on his postgame radio show. “We knew he’d have a good game. Just practices his tail off.”
Peters does it again
Auburn senior defensive back Jordyn Peters once again blocked a punt to help the Tigers score a touchdown against Arkansas.
Peters blocked George Caratan’s punt in the end zone and the ball was recovered by Barton Lester to give the Tigers a 7-0 lead with 4:32 left in the first quarter.
When Auburn beat Arkansas 34-3 in 2018, Peters blocked a punt by Reid Bauer that gave the Tigers possession at the Razorbacks 9 and set up a 4-yard touchdown run by quarterback Phillip Stidham that put Auburn ahead 17-0 in the second quarter.
“He’s really like a special teams leader,” Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn said of Peters. “He done a super job his whole career.”
Peters now had four career blocked punts. In addition to his two blocks against Arkansas, he also had blocks against Alabama State and Liberty in 2018.
Offensive line changes
Arkansas has started the same offensive line for all three games, but there were some changes Saturday after the game started.
On the game’s first snap, right tackle Noah Gatlin went down with an apparent right leg injury. He was helped off the field and didn’t play again, but stayed on the sideline.
Dalton Wagner, a starter the previous two seasons, replaced Gatlin.
In the second quarter, Ty Clary, a starter a center the previous two seasons, went to right guard for Beaux Limmer. Clary played the rest of the game and was on the field for all four of Arkansas’ touchdown drives.
Other starters on the offensive line remained tackle Myron Cunningham, center Ricky Stromberg and guard Brady Latham.
Not sweet 16 for Hogs
The Razorbacks faced one of their former head coaches for the 16th time since 1999 with Chad Morris now serving as Auburn’s offensive coordinator after having a 4-18 record with the Razorbacks the previous two seasons.
Arkansas is 10-6 against its former head coaches in that span, including 4-2 against Lou Holtz (South Carolina), 3-1 against Joe Kines (Alabama), 2-2 against Houston Nutt (Ole Miss) and 1-0 against Jack Crowe (Jacksonville, Ala., State) in addition to being 0-1 against Morris.
Touchdowns at Auburn
Arkansas’ offense found the end zone at Jordan-Hare Stadium for the first time since the 2014 season opener when Feleipe Franks hit Michael Woods with a 4-yard touchdown pass with 6:24 left in the second quarter.
It was the Razorbacks’ first touchdown at Auburn since Jonathan Williams scored on a 6-yard run with 4:28 left in the second quarter of the Tigers’ 45-21 victory on Aug. 30, 2014.
Franks then threw three more touchdown passes.
Williams’ touchdown in 2014 tied the score 21-21 before the Tigers pulled away to win.
The Razorbacks went 11 quarters between touchdowns at Auburn. They got only field goals in a 56-3 loss in 2016 and 34-3 loss in 2018.
Sophomore running back Trelon Smith and redshirt freshman walk-on cornerback Hudson Clark made their first career starts for Arkansas.
Smith, who redshirted last season after transferring from Arizona State, started in place of injured Rakeem Boyd. Clark started for started in place of injured Montaric Brown. Boyd and Brown were injured at Mississippi State last week and didn’t travel with the team to Auburn.
Senior wide receiver De’Vion Warren started for Treylon Burks, who dressed out Saturday, but didn’t play after sustaining a knee injury at Mississippi State.
It was the second career start for Warren, who started this season’s opener against Georgia.
Arkansas junior safety Joe Foucha, who had two interceptions off the bench at Mississippi State and was co-SEC defensive player of the week along with UA linebacker Bumper Pool, made his first start of the season.
Foucha, who started in place of Simeon Blair, who played off the bench after starting the first two games. It was the 14th career start for Foucha, who started all 12 games last season.
Arkansas sophomore defensive tackle Isaiah Nichols was back in the lineup with a four-man defensive line after playing off the bench last week when the Razorbacks went with a three-man defensive front.
5 for Auburn
Auburn won its fifth consecutive game against Arkansas – the longest streak for either team in the series – and improved to 18-11-1 in the series.
The Razorbacks’ longest winning streak in the series in two games, which they have done four times, most recently in 2011-12.
Arkansas last won at Auburn 24-7 in 2012 when John L. Smith was Arkansas’ interim coach.
Arkansas redshirt freshman tight end Hudson Henry and junior linebacker Bumper Pool carried the Arkansas and United State flags, respectively, when the Razorbacks ran onto the field.
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