Auburn football: Stock report after Week 4
A surprising lack of adequate quarterback play from either Payton Thorne or Robby Ashford, coupled with an inability to keep a charging Texas A&M defense off the Tigers’ QBs, resulted in a confounding 27-10 loss to the Aggies on the road in Auburn’s SEC opener Saturday.
The Tigers’ offense did not reach the end zone. A 4th-quarter 67-yard scoop and score by Eugene Asante accounted for Auburn’s lone TD. A career-long 53-yard field goal from Alex McPherson opened the scoring for Auburn (3-1, 0-1), which falls for the 1st time this season in head coach Hugh Freeze’s initial campaign on The Plains.
Here is Auburn’s stock report after Week 4
Player of the Week: LB Eugune Asante
For the 2nd consecutive week, Asante was the leader of the team. Unlike last week, however, Asante added a touchdown to his credit.
In addition to leading the team with 9 tackles, including 7 solo, Asante scooped up an Aggies fumble in the 4th quarter and raced 67 yards to the end zone for Auburn’s only touchdown of the game.
Freshman of the Week: DL Keldric Faulk
The 6-6, 288-pounder from Highland Home recorded 2 solo tackles and added a QB hurry. The long and athletic pass rusher is best off the edge, and he exhibited his potential in limited snaps.
Biggest surprise: Poor OL play
With so many new faces, we knew the Auburn line would be a work in progress. But Saturday’s performance was a step back in that development. The Tigers gave up 7 sacks, and the Aggies tallied 15 tackles for loss.
The result was an overall poor performance from the offense, which was able to gain just 56 yards through the air and another 144 on the ground. It was the fewest total yards (200) for Auburn this season.
Biggest concern: Lack of QB play
Thorne was seemingly developing into a serviceable QB or better, and someone who could lead the Auburn offense through the gauntlet that is the SEC schedule. In addition, Ashford had proven that he could come off the bench and turn in some meaningful snaps.
Neither QB played well. They didn’t handle the pressure of playing on the road. They didn’t handle the pressure of the Aggies’ defense. They couldn’t hit their receivers, even on the occasions when they were wide open.
Thorne and Ashford combined to complete just 7 of 16 passes for 52 yards. They were so inept, in fact, that Freeze employed his 3rd QB, redshirt freshman Holden Geriner, who completed 2 of 7 passes for 8 yards.
Developing trend: Passing game inefficiency
The Tigers threw for just 56 yards. It was the 2nd time in 3 games that Auburn QBs combined for fewer than 100 passing yards.
But you can’t put it all on Thorne and Ashford. The Auburn OL hasn’t been outstanding, and the receivers aren’t necessarily getting separation. Although on Saturday, in times when they did, Auburn QBs were not particularly accurate with their throws.
Key stat: 3-of-15 on 3rd-down conversion
When you’re converting just 20 percent on 3rd down, it’s no wonder you can’t reach the end zone. Auburn had no continuity on offense with either QB.
First impression about Week 5: Are the Tigers ready for the 2-time defending champs?
This seems like the worst time for Auburn to have to face the 2-time defending national champions. A lot of things have to be fixed before next Saturday, when the Georgia Bulldogs come calling. At least the game will be played at Jordan-Hare Stadium. But are the Tigers ready for this type of challenge?
Both QBs will have to have their best week of practice to prepare for the Bulldogs. The offensive line must fix its problems and better protect. The receiving corps must work on getting separation. That’s a lot to correct in a week.