Auburn football: Is this as good as it gets for Bo Nix and Tigers?
Heading into the Saturday night matchup between No. 7-ranked Auburn and No. 4 Georgia, the Tigers were 7-point underdogs. Many said that line was too high and Auburn would cover with ease. Unfortunately for Auburn, those people were wrong.
But why did the Tigers struggle? What ultimately caused the lopsided 27-6 loss in Athens? Well, there are several factors at play, one being the Bo Nix and the offense.
The hope throughout the offseason was that new offensive coordinator Chad Morris would not only lead Nix to take the next step in his development, but would also help the offense, as a whole, become one the SEC’s best.
In the second half against Kentucky in Week 1, there were some glimpses of that. Nix had the passing game rolling with 2 touchdown passes to Seth Williams and another to Eli Stove. That was a huge reason the Tigers came away with a 29-13 victory over the Wildcats.
Against Georgia, Nix seemed to regress — and so did the offense.
The sophomore quarterback only completed 52.3 percent of his passes for 177 yards (4.4 yards per attempt), 0 touchdowns and 1 interception. After leading the team in rushing with 34 yards against Kentucky, he only added 8 rushing yards and was sacked 3 times.
The rest of the offense was not much better.
True freshman Tank Bigsby was the only running back to receive a carry, and he turned those limited (8) opportunities into only 31 yards. That puts the average below 4 yards (3.9). The former 4-star prospect led the Tigers in receiving yards (68) and finished second in receptions (7), but it wasn’t enough to make a difference.
As a whole, Auburn’s offense only mustered 216 total yards against the Bulldogs. And this is the yards per play numbers broken down by quarter for the Tigers, according to SportSource Analytics:
- First quarter: 3.55 yards
- Second quarter: 2.80 yards
- Third quarter: 3.90 yards
- Fourth quarter: 2.75 yards
Time of possession also heavily favored Georgia. The Bulldogs held onto the ball for 34:04 compared to 25:56 for Auburn. The first half was especially poor for the Tigers, as this is how their 6 offensive drives broke down:
- Drive 1: 3 plays, 1 yard, 1 minute, 34 seconds, punt
- Drive 2: 3 plays, 1 yard, 1:35, punt
- Drive 3: 5 plays, 22 yards, 2:26, punt
- Drive 4: 3 plays, 4 yards, 1:16, punt
- Drive 5: 11 plays, 65 yards, 4:48, field goal
- Drive 6: 1 play, -4 yards, 0:18, end of half
The Tigers produced a few sustained drives in the second half with 2 different possessions landing right at or over 5 minutes. But they only got 3 points. That’s completely unacceptable when Georgia has positioned itself with a 3-score lead.
Nix was a driving factor in the lack of consistency moving the football. Even when protection was there, the former 5-star recruit would bail and try to make a play on the move. Most of the time, that plan didn’t work.
To be fair to Nix, things around him didn’t go well. Morris was predictable as a play-caller, wide receivers dropped a couple of passes and the offensive line broke down at some crucial moments. But Nix wasn’t good to overcome his own obstacles or his offense’s.
Auburn has six tough, but winnable games, coming up on the schedule, starting with Arkansas next Saturday. But the Tigers need to correct a lot of issues if they want to avoid a second consecutive loss, this time to a Razorbacks team that just upset Mississippi State.