AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn coaches will take a closer look at the film Monday, but that’s not stopping us from grading the Tigers in the immediate aftermath of their A-Day performance.
The Blue team, comprised mostly of the starters, knocked off the White team 19-10 Saturday. The score didn’t matter, but the offense’s production and the defense’s domination is certainly something to examine.
Let’s take a look at each unit and grade the Tigers based on their performances on offense, defense and special teams Saturday. You can chime in below by assigning the Tigers an overall grade from their A-Day game as well.
The Blue and White teams combined to start the scrimmage with six consecutive three-and-outs. The first-team defensive unit, particularly the defensive line, had a lot to do with the slow performance, but we didn’t see one standout performance among the three quarterbacks vying for the starting job.
Now, remember, Auburn used less than 20 percent of its playbook on offense, but so did the defense. This is possibly a simple case of the defensive talent being better than the offensive talent, but a great quarterback can change all of that. The Tigers would most definitely be much better with a play-maker at quarterback, and we didn’t necessarily get to see that — by design — in this scrimmage because the quarterbacks were not live. What would have happened had John Franklin III been allowed to tuck the ball and run on broken plays or keep the ball on zone-read options? His uneven performance may have been a different story altogether Saturday.
The lack of a consistent threat doesn’t mean we should sit back and chalk this up as a hiccup in an unimportant spring game, however. When Sean White finally got the offense going with a 20-yard pass to C.J. Tolbert, he subsequently was sacked by Carl Lawson and had to quickly throw away another pass on third-and-15 on a rush by Lawson and Montravius Adams. The offense never could piece together a healthy drive as the Blue and White teams combined to finish 1 for 22 on third-down conversions while also struggling to score in the red zone (1 of 5 trips inside the 20-yard line resulted in a touchdown) — both troubling trends mirroring Auburn’s struggles last season.
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What was the most impressive throw of the day? Perhaps it was Jeremy Johnson’s heave to Darius Slayton, which fell off his fingertips near the end of the game. Or maybe it was White’s 50-yard pass to Davis, though White subsequently fumbled the ball away two plays later at the 10. Either way, the passing game was unimpressive, Johnson and White both fumbled and it’s all why this quarterback battle will likely rage through August.
Outside of that, the running game looked strong with Jovon Robinson and Kamryn Pettway getting the bulk of the carries and combining for 160 yards on 17 carries in what proved to be the lowest scoring A-Day (29 combined points) of the Gus Malzahn era.
The first-team unit looks legit and the depth along the defensive line is as deep as it has been since the Tommy Tuberville days. Carl Lawson and Montravius Adams look the part of All-SEC defenders, but the true story of the spring is the emergence of Marlon Davidson. The end/tackle was all over the field and finished with four tackles, the most by any lineman.
Save for freshman Javaris Davis getting lost in coverage and allowing a 40-yard touchdown throw by John Franklin III to Marcus Davis, there were no big busts in the secondary and the defense forced several throws into double coverage. Still, the second- and third-teamers allowed running backs to average 10.5 yards per carry, which is never a good thing, even if that’s not a sign of things to come next season.
It’s always difficult to judge a defense in a controlled scrimmage, but the performance by the defensive line gives Auburn hope it can improve upon the seven-win fiasco last season. The defense should be much better in the fall.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A
What more can you say about Daniel Carlson? The kicker was brilliant, connecting on five field goals to snag MVP honors for the specialists. His 52-yarder was impressive, but more impressive was his 55-yard field goal as time expired in the first half.
Punting seems to be in good hands and we might finally see the emergence of Ian Shannon at the position. He booted a 52-yard punt into the gusty wind early in the scrimmage. Shannon finished with two punts of 50 yards or more. Kevin Phillips, the walk-on who was awarded a scholarship in the offseason, drilled a 58-yard punt as well.
Punt returners were not live and Auburn did not run kickoff sets either, so judging the returners was impossible, though there were no fumbles.
Vote below to decide the overall score for the Tigers’ performance at A-Day. Was it promising? Concerning? Let us know.