Auburn Uncorked a Couple of Back Breakers on the Vols
(USA Today Sports, John Reed)
War Eagle everybody! It’s time now for the Acid Reign Report on Auburn’s home win over the Tennessee Volunteers by the score of 30–17. Auburn appeared quite rusty after a 3-week layoff for virus reasons. The Tigers had some early success on offense but could not put together scoring drives due to mistakes. Meanwhile, Tennessee pretty much did what it wanted to on the ground. I had worried about Tennessee’s 5-star line, and they mowed down Auburn’s front 4 pretty consistently all game long. We Auburn Tigers are quite fortunate that stubborn Tennessee offensive coaches love to move away from what is working.
One peeve I have about teams offensively is when they drive the ball inside the opponent’s 25-yard line, the quarterback takes a sack. Bo Nix did this in the first half once, but Anders Carlson made the field goal anyway. Jarrett Guarantano did this repeatedly. Twice he took the Vols backwards in scoring position, and a longer field goal became necessary. I felt bad for Vol kicker Brent Cimaglia, as the guy seemed to be limping every time he came onto the field. Cimaglia was not helped by the sacks, and Tennessee missed two field goals. When you couple that with a ridiculous stare-down job from quarterback Jarrett Guarantano, and subsequent Smoke Monday pick six, that’s the 13-point margin of victory right there.
Auburn squandered a potential scoring drive early with an interception in the end zone but settled down offensively after that. Tennessee used an interesting pass rush on obvious passing downs. It was a 3-man rush with a 4th lineman spying quarterback Bo Nix. This eliminated the big scrambles up the middle that killed the LSU defense a few weeks ago. And meanwhile, the 7-man coverage patterns made it tough to find open men downfield. I think you really have to give Bo Nix credit for spreading the ball around and taking what the defense was giving. Nix averaged 8.4 yards per pass, which is pretty decent. However, if you take out the one bad coverage bust the Vols had that was exploited for a 54-yard Nix-to-Schwartz touchdown, that figure drops to 6.6 yards per pass. That’s a more pedestrian number, to be sure. However, Nix completed 65 percent of his passes. An offense can move the chains with a short passing game like that coupled with a decent running game. I was very proud of the offense for shaking off the loss of starting running back Tank Bigsby and, later, both offensive tackles. I sure hope all those guys are back full speed for the Iron Bowl.
Defensively, Auburn seriously got whipped up front. I remember watching the first Tennessee drive of the second half, and it looked like the Auburn defense was on skates going backward. Fortunately for Auburn, Tennessee just would not stick with what was working. They ultimately put the drive back in the hands of the quarterback and ended up throwing a game-changing interception. I noted reading the press from the other team calling the quarterback “Toonces the driving cat.” Brutal. Speaking of brutal, the Auburn front won’t get a break next Saturday. Alabama’s line is just as talented and does a more cohesive job. I’m not looking forward to Najee Harris and his running game at all.
I thought Auburn had a solid special teams day, highlighted by the kicking of AndersCarlson. The punting g ame was not as good as Auburn was not able to return either of the 2 Vol punts and did not punt well, either.
Unit grades after the jump!
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