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Tigers Dump the Wildcats! (Grading Auburn’s 29-13 win over Kentucky.)

By on September 27th, 2020 in Football 1 Comment »

Seth Williams snatches in a touchdown!
(AP Photo by Butch Dill)

     War Eagle everybody! It’s time now for the Acid Reign Report on Auburn’s season opening 29-13 win over the number 17 Kentucky Wildcats. Featuring veteran lines on both sides of the ball, Kentucky took the ball right at the Auburn Tigers, and took their first drive right down the field for a score. What was most galling was that Auburn gave up a 35 yard touchdown run to Kavosiey Smoke where no linebacker, safety or cornerback even lined up on that side of the field. Was a comedy of errors to ensue from the Tigers? Thankfully, not so much.

     Auburn was able to answer the Kentucky drive by mixing the run and the pass, capping off the drive with a short touchdown run by DJ Williams. Auburn brought out an old staple from earlier in the Gus Malzahn era, the Batman play. A swinging gate sort of thing, most of the team lined up way over on the left, while the center and a couple of players lined up on the right. Kentucky left a numbers disadvantage on the right, so transfer quarterback Grant Loy was the batman, took the snap and quickly flipped a two-point conversion to John Samuel Schenker, and Auburn had an 8-7 lead, and would not relinquish the lead again all day.

     Both teams bogged down a bit after initial touchdowns. Auburn drove deep into Wildcat territory, only to lose the ball on downs. Kentucky drove deep right before the half, before two of the worst referee calls of the day, upheld by replay. First, Kentucky quarterback Terry Wilson powered forward on a keeper, ball cradled in his arms. He got BOTH feet on the goal line, AND was leaning forward with the ball. Somehow, the refs robbed Kentucky of the touchdown, and spotted the ball at the half yard line.

     Then, Kentucky got a little too cute. They tried a rollout pass, Wilson tried to throw off his back foot across his body, and jam the ball into traffic. Auburn cornerback Roger McCreary snagged the errant pass at the goal line, and set sail down the sideline. Behind the play, Auburn end Derrick Hall cut off an pursuer, slicing him into the sideline. Hall did not lead with the helmet. He did not hit the pursuer from behind. He did not launch himself. In no way was a pursuer trying to make a tackle a “defenseless player.” The players’ helmets did lightly contact, but it was after shoulders and arms hit. Somehow, Hall was called for targeting, wiping out the Auburn touchdown. Folks, if the refs are going to call targeting every time two helmets touch, we might as well change the rules to “flag football.” In the end, the refs took a touchdown away from each team through incompetence.

     Auburn gave up a chunk of rushing yards in the first half, but slammed the door in the 3rd quarter. The Auburn defense held Kentucky to back to back three-and-outs, and gave the Tiger offense some breathing room. Auburn answered with a long drive, but seemed to have stalled. On 3rd and goal from the 11, pressure came at Bo Nix. He sailed a pass off his back foot, and Seth Williams went up and got it for a touchdown.

     Kentucky answered. Finding open receivers, Terry Wilson moved the wildcats to an answering touchdown. Kentucky went for 2 on a quarterback rollout, and inexplicably, Wilson threw the ball away into the stands. Auburn held a 15-13 lead.

     The rest of the game was a serious Kentucky meltdown, losing a couple of fumbles. Auburn’s defensive line really began to assert itself, and the Wildcat attack collapsed. Bo Nix threw for two more touchdowns, resulting in the final margin.

     Defensively, Auburn looked rusty early, and Kentucky gave Auburn some formations that they had not seen on film. As the game wore on, the Auburn defensive line and front seven really asserted itself, winning the matchup against Kentucky’s veteran line and backs. The Tigers still have some issues to work out in the secondary, and I’m certainly glad Auburn was not facing one of the great SEC passers this week.

     Offensively, the run game was ineffective, except for a few quarterback scrambles and pitch plays. A rotating cast of offensive linemen did not help. Reportedly, Auburn did not have the whole contingent together on the line for much of fall camp. Bo Nix missed a few throws in the first half, but was under pressure. He made some great throws later, and did a good job of taking care of the ball. One complaint on the day was that according to pundits, we were supposed to see a lot more passes to backs and tight ends. Auburn attempted 2 passes to tight end John Samuel Schenker, and none to the running backs on the day.

     Auburn had a solid, if unspectacular day on special teams. Coverage was respectable, and returns were good. Kentucky probably could be said to have won the special teams battle with great punting from Max Duffy, but the failed fake punt really allowed Auburn to take control of the ballgame.

Unit grades after the jump!


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By on September 26th, 2020 in Football 2 Comments »
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By on February 23rd, 2020 in Basketball 6 Comments »
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