Against Georgia, Auburn offense was just plain ugly as aspirations tumble
Auburn’s SEC title and national title hopes evaporated in one fell swoop. On a day they played without Kamryn Pettway due to an injury, the Tigers lost to Georgia at Sanford Stadium, which snapped their six-game winning streak.
As a result, AU is 7-3 as it enters its home game against Alabama A&M on Saturday.
Here’s an analysis of Auburn’s 13-7 loss.
• Sean White’s injury must really be bothering him: White, who apparently hurt his shoulder two weeks ago at Ole Miss, easily had his worst game of the season, completing just 6 of his 20 passes for 27 yards and a pick-six. He was much better last week, when he finished 10-of-13 for 106 yards and a TD in Auburn’s victory over Vanderbilt. However, as bad as White looked against the Bulldogs, Gus Malzahn must have felt that the redshirt sophomore – even with an injury – gave Auburn its best chance to win.
• The Tigers missed Pettway more than they imagined they would: Auburn ran 32 times for 127 yards and a touchdown, its second-worst rushing performance of the season; Clemson held the Tigers to 87 yards on 41 carries in AU’s 19-13 season-opening loss. Take away Kerryon Johnson’s 22 carries for 99 yards, and Auburn gained just 28 yards on their 10 other attempts.
• Auburn’s defense wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad: Despite surrendering Nick Chubb’s 101 yards on 23 carries, the Tigers held Georgia to just 6 points on offense. The bad news for Auburn is that those two Rodrigo Blankenship field goals were the difference in the game. The Tigers allowed Jacob Eason to complete 20-of-31 passes for 208 yards and no interceptions, and he led the Bulldogs on their two scoring drives.
• The Tigers’ longest play of the day went for 18 yards: That happened to be Johnson’s 18-yard run. Auburn’s longest pass play was White’s 14-yard pass to Tony Stevens. The Tigers’ 7 points were a season-low.
• Auburn still has a chance to play spoiler: Even though Auburn’s performance was incredibly disappointing, the Tigers can still achieve some important goals. Most importantly, it can hand Alabama its first loss of the season in the Iron Bowl. Next week, when the Tigers likely beat Alabama A&M, they will have eight wins, which will exceed last season’s total. And if Auburn can somehow upset the Crimson Tide, that win total will go to nine and potentially 10, depending upon the Tigers’ opponent in their bowl game.
Offense: F – Any way you slice them, the numbers are ugly. Auburn’s 164 total yards represented its worst offensive showing of the season, and 32 of those yards came in the second half, when the Tigers failed to convert a first down. White completed just 2 of his 13 passes in the second half – both for four yards.
Defense: B – Auburn came into the contest allowing 3.7 yards per carry; the Bulldogs averaged 3.1. The Tigers’ pass defense allowed Eason to complete 65 percent of his passes. His percentage coming into the game was 53.
Special teams: B – Kevin Phillips averaged 44.1 yards on his eight punts. Johnson returned a kickoff for 14 yards. Marcus Davis took a punt 5 yards.
Coaching: D – Considering how poorly White performed, you can’t help but wonder why Malzahn didn’t shut him down and turn to backup John Franklin. Auburn held Georgia to 59 rushing yards and no points in the first half. If White’s shoulder was really bothering him, Malzahn could have – and probably should have – scrapped the passing game entirely. It might have prevented White from throwing his pick-six to Maurice Smith 23 seconds into the second half.
Overall: D – The Tigers were inept on offense but decent on defense. As bad as they were in the second half, they lost a one-score game in Athens, where they haven’t won since 2005.
Auburn had a 39:09-20:51 time of possession disadvantage while running the ball 32 times. The Tigers executed 54 plays after running 62 last week against Vanderbilt. Clearly, Auburn’s inability to sustain drives didn’t allow the team to control the tempo of the game.
RB Kerryon Johnson: Not only did he lead the Tigers with 104 all-purpose yards, he was also sharper than White — the SEC’s most accurate and efficient passer coming in — as he completed both of his attempts for 10 yards.
DE Carl Lawson: His sack raised his career-high season total to 9.5, and he led the Tigers with 3 tackles for loss.
DB Tray Matthews: He led Auburn with 8 total tackles and recorded his first interception of the season when he picked off a pass in the end zone from Georgia wideout Terry Godwin – who took a direct snap while in the wildcat formation.