War Eagle, everybody. It’s time now for another Acid Reign report. This week, it’s Auburn’s embarrassing 38-0 loss to Georgia. The Tiger defense offered little resistance to the Bulldogs, allowing touchdowns on Georgia’s first four drives. The offense had a few flashes in the passing game, but exceptionally poor play calling resulted in nothing on the scoreboard. The 38-0 beating was the worst loss to Georgia in Auburn, ever.
The Bulldogs have shuffled folks around on the offensive line all year due to injury, and their top two wide receivers also missed the game. Even so, with two true freshman running backs, the Bulldogs ran over the Tigers at will. Both freshman runners went over a hundred yards and the Georgia rushing attack averaged 6.9 yards per carry. It’s become increasingly clear that Auburn has the weakest front seven defenders in the league. This week, even the secondary had difficulty tackling. In Auburn’s last two SEC games, the team has given up 101 points.
If there was any bright spot on the day, it was the cool-headed play of freshman quarterback Jonathan Wallace. Despite ridiculously poor offensive game planning, Wallace had only one turnover on an overthrow. He kept his poise, hit most of his passes, and frequently kept plays alive with his scrambling ability. On the day, he hit 15 of 22 passes for 181 yards. That’s a 68 percent completion percentage, and 8.2 yards per pass. By comparison, Georgia’s Aaron Murray averaged 8.6 yards per pass. That’s a decent day for Wallace, against a good defense
If it seems like I’m harping too much on play-calling, well, so be it. After ten games, I suppose I should be used to it. Auburn’s best offensive weapon, Tre Mason, received only 11 carries. Only two of those were with a fullback and tight end in the game. I just don’t understand running your guy right at an All-American linebacker with no lead blocker, over and over again. McCalebb had only 5 total touches on offense, and he produced 59 yards on those. Auburn only managed 57 rushing yards on the day, but we sat all-american fullback Jay Prosch on the bench on over half our rushing attempts
Even Auburn’s special teams weren’t very good, aside from one long punt and a touchback on Auburn’s lone kickoff. Steven Clark hit the ball fairly short most of the time on his 8 punts, and managed only a 38.6 yard average. Quan Bray was unable to field any of Georgia’s 5 punts, and Auburn ended up pinned deep on 4 of them. Onterio McCalebb cautiously returned 3 kickoffs, and his longest return was only 17 yards. Auburn did not appear to blocking at all, on kickoffs.
Unit Grades, after the jump!
Defensive Line: C-. There were very occasional athletic plays, particularly by Dee Ford, who had six solo tackles. Far too often, this unit was blown off the ball. Corey Lemonier got a bit of pressure. The D-line came up with 25 total tackles, which is actually a good bit more than they’ve been managing.
Linebackers: F. Aside from a couple of bone jarring hits from Cassanova McKinzy, this unit was exceptionally poor. Georgia ran the ball 42 times, and the entire linebacker corps only managed 13 total tackles.
Secondary: F. Georgia receivers ran free all night, making easy targets for Aaron Murray. I honestly don’t think these guys realized that Chris Conley and Malcomb Mitchell were eligible receivers. Even veteran guys like Demetruce McNeal reverted to diving at ankles, rather than running through tackles. The secondary has made a ton of tackles this year, and I think they’ve largely been worn down.
Punting: C+. None of Steven Clark’s punts were returned, which is good. However, a 38.6 yard average is a high school number.
Punt Returns: D. Auburn didn’t pressure the punter, block for returns, or even attempt to field the ball. Georgia’s two punters were able to tee off for a 45.2 yard average, and pinned Auburn inside the 20 four times.
Kick Returns: F. No one’s bothering to block these anymore. And this caused Onterio McCalebb to look tentative. McCalebb averaged only 13.6 yards per return, carrying one out of the end zone with no chance to get even close to the 25 yard line.
Place-kicking: A+. There was only one place kick the entire game, when Cody Parkey kicked off to start the second half. That one went about 80 yards.
Offensive Line: C. Aside from a holding penalty on Patrick Miller, these guys actually didn’t do too badly. Occasionally Georgia would confuse them, creating assignment issues, but these guys created a pocket consistently, and actually got some push in the running game. Although the running game didn’t net but 57 yards, these guys generally blocked their guy. Unfortunately, five guys can only block five defenders, and the Bulldogs were sending seven or eight men. Leave it to Scot Loeffler to keep trying to run the ball with three wide receivers and no fullback in the game. Georgia’s starting defensive line only had 4 total tackles.
Running Backs: B. Again, these guys had no chance due to the poor play calling. Pass protection was spotty at times, and I counted off for a couple of times when McCalebb tripped and fell with no contact on him.
Receivers: C. Aside from Brandon Fulse, blocking was pretty poor. Most of these guys are running sloppy routes, too, because they are unlikely to get a ball thrown to them. Hats off to Emory Blake, who had another 100 yard game on 6 receptions. In a year with poor quarterback play, Blake’s come down with 45 receptions. Unfortunately, Blake fumbled away Auburn’s best chance of scoring at the Georgia 11 yard line.
Quarterback: C+. Jonathan Wallace continues to impress, but he’s being limited by poor play calling, and spotty route running. He had two or three throws he’d like back, but I think he managed his first SEC start pretty darned well. He easily has the best pocket awareness of any quarterback on the roster, and I am excited about his future at Auburn.
While I don’t think anyone was really surprised by the result in this game, it’s still difficult to comprehend having an Auburn team that can’t compete in the SEC. Auburn is getting physically manhandled by every league team they play, and that’s really never happened before in my lifetime. It is shocking to consider the slide, particularly on defense. Less than two years ago, Auburn’s front seven were wreaking havoc on a very good Oregon offense. Now, they are being lit up by teams like Ole Miss, Texas A&M and Georgia.
Two games remain in this pitiful season. I think we can go ahead and pencil in another epic beatdown against Alabama on Thanksgiving weekend. Next Saturday, Auburn takes on Alabama A&M. This is a team with a dangerous offense, and a mobile, accurate quarterback who doesn’t make many mistakes. Daunte Mason has thrown only 4 interceptions all season, against 16 touchdowns. He’s piled up 318 rushing yards and 9 scores on the ground, too. They’ll be able to score some points. Can Auburn keep play calling from killing the offense this week?
We’ll be cheering this team on, through thick and thin. This will be the last home game for the Auburn seniors, and they deserve applause. Guys like Darren Bates, Jonathan Evans, T’Sharvan Bell, John Sullen, Phillip Lutzenkirchen, Emory Blake, Blake Burgess, and Onterio McCalebb have been there through great times, and terrible times. They are Auburn men all, and we salute them. War Eagle, everybody. It’s great to be an Auburn Tiger.
Tags: Auburn Georgia grades