Auburn report card: Low marks for Tigers after close loss to Ole Miss
The scoreboard made Auburn’s 27-19 loss to Ole Miss on Saturday look much prettier than it actually was. Auburn struggled on both sides of the ball throughout the game, but a few timely big plays and two takeaways kept the Tigers alive.
Here are the grades from Auburn’s fourth loss of the 2015 season:
Auburn’s offense wasn’t terrible when considering that two key players, quarterback Sean White and tailback Peyton Barber, weren’t at full strength. White threw for 258 yards, and the tandem of White and Jeremy Johnson, who rotated into the game occasionally, combined for 302 yards. White also threw the first touchdown of his career, which was certainly encouraging.
The running game struggled mightily against Ole Miss’ front seven. Jovon Robinson rushed for 91 yards in his first career start, but the Tigers only ran for 125 yards on a dismal three yards per carry.
The Tigers were poor situationally, going 2 of 15 on third downs and 0 for 2 on fourth down. Auburn also settled for two field goals deep in Ole Miss territory that prevented the Tigers from taking the lead.
This isn’t a “D” for defense.
Auburn’s defense started well, but it fell apart in the second half and surrendered a season-high 558 yards to the Rebels, including 402 passing yards. A couple of interceptions kept the Tigers alive, but this defense was gouged for most of the game.
Their Achilles’ heel defensively has been getting off the field on third down, and that continued Saturday with Ole Miss converting 7 of 18 third-down situations, two of which helped the Rebels put points on the board.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A-
Auburn only returned one kickoff and two punts, so this high grade is mainly because of kicker Daniel Carson, who drilled four field goals — booting kicks of 23, 26, 33 and 52 yards — and accounted for 13 of the team’s 19 points.
The Tigers likely wished they hadn’t settled for Carson field goals as often as they did, but credit the sophomore for doing his job.
Gus Malzahn tried to tinker with his quarterbacks throughout the game, but it didn’t exactly pan out. The shifting on offense didn’t allow for continuity, and the running game still struggled. A questionable decision to throw the ball on fourth-and-2 ultimately cost the Tigers seven points when the Rebels forced an incompletion and scored six plays later. Muschamp’s defensive tactics worked early on, but the Tigers wore down as the game continued.
Give credit to Auburn for hanging tough and making plays to stay alive, but this wasn’t a great effort. Big plays propelled the Auburn offense, and a failure to finish drives with a touchdown doomed the Tigers. Auburn’s defense still has plenty of room to improve. The Tigers have a tough road ahead of them just to become bowl eligible, but there were a few things to build upon from Saturday’s game.