Auburn’s offensive keys for beating the Arkansas Razorbacks

Auburn is coming off a bye and is hoping that the extra time will translate to an improved offense.

The Tigers will need to do just that for their matchup with the Arkansas Razorbacks Saturday in Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Auburn (3-4, 1-3 SEC) has a six-game winning streak against the Razorbacks but will be underdogs in their own stadium. Both programs have had similar seasons and offensively lean on their star running backs.

While the Razorback’s offense has been impressive, especially when quarterback KJ Jefferson is healthy, their defense has struggled this season and has weaknesses that Auburn will look to exploit.

Here are five offensive keys for Auburn’s offense to have success Saturday against the Razorbacks. The game is set to start Saturday at 11 a.m. CT and will be on the SEC Network.

The offensive line has to protect Robby Ashford

Auburn Tigers quarterback Robby Ashford (9) passes behind offensive lineman Brandon Council (71), offensive lineman Kilian Zierer (77) and offensive lineman Kameron Stutts (62) against LSU as the Auburn Tigers take on the LSU Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala., on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022.

The Arkansas defense is one of the best in the country at sacking the quarterback, their 21.0 sacks are the 21st most in the country and their 3.0 per game are the 17th most in the country. It all starts with star linebacker Drew Sanders, who leads the SEC with 6.5 sacks.

This is a poor matchup for Auburn, which does not give up a ton of sacks but allows plenty of pressure and forces Robby Ashford to scramble and make plays with his legs.

Auburn’s offensive line will need to limit the pressure or Auburn’s offense will frequently be behind the chains and they are not good enough to have success in those situations.

Protect the football

Auburn Tigers quarterback Robby Ashford (9) fumbles as he is sacked by Missouri Tigers defensive lineman Isaiah McGuire (9) as Auburn Tigers take on Missouri Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala., on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022.

These two teams are very even and this game should be a back-and-forth affair. One way this could change is if Auburn continues to turn the ball over at an alarming rate. Their -11 turnover margin is tied for the worst in the country with Central Michigan.

Get Tank Bigsby going

(Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images)

Bigsby had his best game of the season last time Aubrun was on the field, rushing for 179 yards and two touchdowns against Ole Miss.

A major reason why was the offensive line opening up running lanes for him and Jarquez Hunter to take advantage of. Bigsby is capable of taking over a game and carrying Auburn to victory, he just needs the offensive line to do their part. If they can do that then Auburn will have a chance to keep up with the Razorbacks’ offense.

Take advantage of the Razorbacks secondary

Zach Bland/AU Athletics

While the Razorbacks are great at sacking the quarterback, when they do not get home they have been picked apart.

Their passing defense ranks 128th in the country, allowing 315.7 yards per game and their 8.6 yards per attempt ranks 118th nationally.

The Tigers have not shown the ability to take advantage of a weak secondary but they need to take some calculated shots and see if they can get the passing game going.

Finish their drives

John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Both of these teams have struggled to finish their drives with touchdowns once they get into the red zone.

Auburn has scored a touchdown on 63.64% of their red zone trips while the Razorbacks have on 60.61 % of theirs, good enough for the 10th and 11th best rate in the SEC, respectively.

Whichever team is able to take advantage of these opportunities will have a great shot at winning this matchup.

Story originally appeared on Auburn Wire