Nutt tries to figure out loss after holding AU to 10

Updated: October 12, 2003, 8:54 PM ET

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Holding Auburn to 10 points would normally mean a victory, but a sputtering offense unable to make key plays kept Arkansas from likely ending the weekend as a top-five team.

Three teams ranked above the Razorbacks fell Saturday. Had Arkansas found a way to beat the unranked Tigers, it could have found itself moving up in the polls, instead of falling from seventh to 11th Sunday.

"If you would have told me that we were going to hold them to 10 points, I would really equate that with victory," Nutt said after Arkansas' 10-3 loss on Saturday. "That is what is discouraging."

When Arkansas needed a play, it usually couldn't make it. When it did make one -- actually, when it made two -- holding penalties on receiver George Wilson brought it back.

"If I could have just one of those penalties back ..., I think it's a different game," Nutt said.

Each Wilson penalty involved him holding Auburn defensive back Junior Rosegreen.

One in the third quarter -- Wilson grabbed Rosegreen's jersey while Cedric Cobbs was speeding by -- wiped out a 68-yard run to the Auburn 19. While the penalty yardage was technically only 10 yards, it wiped out 39 yards of Arkansas' offense.

A penalty in the fourth quarter -- Rosegreen said Wilson grabbed his ankle -- erased what would have been a 78-yard TD run by quarterback Matt Jones. Instead of potentially tying the game at 10, Arkansas lost 75 yards -- and seven points.

"It was a good block," Nutt said Sunday. (Saturday, Nutt called Wilson's block on Rosegreen a "downfield tackle" and said it was legal.)

"I've told our players since two-a-days that you're going to get a bad call. They're human and they're going to make mistakes. That is what is frustrating," Nutt said Sunday.

But the Razorbacks had twin six-shooters ready to go as they shot themselves in the foot the entire game:

--Jones hit a wide-open Chris Baker for a 33-yard gain, but Baker had to wait on the ball and gave Rosegreen a chance to catch up to him for a tackle at the Auburn 20. A missed field goal followed.

--A slow developing play helped keep Mark Pierce from making a half-foot on third down at the Auburn 36. On fourth-and-1, De'Arrious Howard leaped on the pile and landed backward, even farther away.

--After nice passes for 25 yards to DeCori Birmingham and 23 yards to Wilson (after having enough time to determine that his initial receiver, Pierce, was covered to well), Jones misfires on three straight passes to end zone from the Auburn 7. Arkansas takes three points on a Chris Balseiro field goal.

--On a fourth-and-3 from the Auburn 34 -- at the end of the drive interrupted by Wilson's first holding play -- Jones changes the play at the line of scrimmage and throws to a double-covered George Wilson 25 yards downfield. The play is easily broken up.

--Carrying past the Auburn 10 -- at the end of the drive interrupted by Wilson's second hold -- Jones fumbled and Rosegreen recovered at the 8.

"In the first half, we weren't really executing offensively," Nutt said. "Then we hurt ourselves with penalties and foolish mistakes that kept us out of the end zone all day long."

Florida visits Arkansas next week. The Gators defeated No. 6 LSU on Saturday, 19-7, in one of the upsets of teams ranked above Arkansas. (No. 3 Ohio State and No. 5 Florida State also lost.)

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index

SPONSORED HEADLINES

MORE COLLEGE FOOTBALL HEADLINES

MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM