It wasn’t a secret that Georgia’s offense had struggled this season. Things went mostly to plan on that side in the Bulldogs’ game Saturday vs. No. 9 Auburn, as they mustered only 6 points and 343 yards against a disruptive Tigers defense in Athens.
What no one could have expected is that this would be good enough to beat Auburn.
The Auburn offense mustered just a single touchdown and 164 total yards against Georgia. Starting quarterback Sean White completed just 6 passes for 27 yards. In fact, he threw for more yards and touchdowns to the other team — he threw a 34-yard interception to Georgia defensive back Maurice Smith that was returned for a score.
Georgia has a good defense — it’s not this good. This was a total collapse from the Auburn offense.
Now granted, the Tigers were missing starting running back Kamryn Pettway, probably the best offensive player on the team. White also was dealing with nagging injuries that kept him out of the first half of last week’s game vs. Vanderbilt, until the team desperately needed him.
There’s still two weeks until Auburn has to travel to play No. 1 Alabama, but the optimism around this team has to be waning quickly. The Tigers won six consecutive games, including five SEC contests, thanks to an offensive resurgence. Saturday showed just how fragile the system can be.
While the running game is Auburn’s featured phase of the game, White’s throwing ability has been the catalyst this season. Without a consistent passing game, the entire offense falls apart. Need proof? Just look at the numbers.
The difference between White’s statistics in wins vs. losses is absurd. In seven wins, White is averaging 193 yards per game and 10.4 yards per passing attempt. Those numbers fall to just 97.7 yards per game in losses and 4.3 yards per pass attempt.
The only sub 200-yard games White threw in wins were Auburn’s rushing evisceration of Arkansas (543 yards) and last week against Vanderbilt, when White played just a half in the narrowest of victories.
Auburn had several opportunities to put this game away and completely failed to do so. With Alabama on the horizon, the Auburn offense better get on track quickly. Fortunately, Pettway should be back after a leg injury and White hopefully will be healthier. Replicating Saturday’s performance will, simply put, get a team run out of Bryant-Denny Stadium against No. 1 Alabama, especially in a rivalry game.
Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee and coach Gus Malzahn have been incredibly impressive this season in adapting their offense to get the most out of their personnel. Finding new ways to put the offense in good positions will be their greatest task during next week’s game against Alabama A&M and during practice.