War Eagle, everybody. It’s time now for the Acid Reign report on Auburn’s brutal outing against LSU. Auburn was soundly beaten in every phase of the game, and left Louisiana with a 45-10 blowout loss. We’ve been expecting a couple of steps forward here, a step backward there, but not a near-total collapse. Number one ranked LSU made Auburn pay dearly for its mistakes. I’ll try to keep things short and sweet below, with an admonition that things must get better, or the team will be lucky to make it to a frigid Legion Field bowl.
Easily the worst aspect of this loss was the play of Auburn’s offensive line. It’s one thing to be bested by a superior opponent. It’s quite another to allow defensive linemen to go by untouched. Did the line get outschemed? Was it a lack of effort? It’s disturbing eight games into the season when the line can’t pick up a shift by the defensive front. It is difficult to grade the Auburn backfield. They never had a chance in this one. I did think quarterback Clint Moseley did an admirable job in his first start. The starting duo of McCalebb and Dyer have now gone all 8 games this season without leaving a fumble on the ground.
It has been a while since we’ve been treated to a special teams performance like the one yesterday. We’ve reverted to high school distance on punts, punt fielding decisions were shaky, and coverage was spotty on both units. In the second half, LSU’s kick coverage unit came with incredible intensity, and terrorized the Auburn return team.
Lost in the debacle was the fact that the Auburn front seven held their own in this game for much of it. Auburn gave up a touchdown drive at the start of each half, due to lack of recognition of unbalanced lines and run fits on those. Where the Tigers were really hurt were untimely penalties. I don’t think I’ve seen an Auburn team grab the facemask as much as this one does. Several times the Auburn D stopped LSU on third down, only to be undone by an unnecessary penalty. Auburn has made a commitment to be more aggressive in coverage, and LSU took advantage when young Auburn defenders made mistakes. Two second quarter LSU bombs put the game out of reach before the half.
Unit Grades, after the jump!
Defensive Line: C-. This unit lost more battles than they won, but they fought on and the effort was good for four quarters. Auburn’s defensive end situation hurt in this game. Nosa Eguae weights in at 258 pounds, and Corey Lemonier is 240. LSU battered Auburn repeatedly off-tackle with 275 pound plus tight ends and fullbacks. Considering the size disadvantage, I think Auburn held up remarkably well there.
Linebackers: C+. I have to give points for staying after it in this game, but some of the time we were overwhelmed at the point of attack. The bottom line in this game is that we knew LSU was going to run it, they did, and Auburn gave up 4.8 yards per carry. That won’t get a defense off the field.
Secondary: D+. Against LSU, the main thing a secondary has to keep in mind is not to give up the deep ball. Make ‘em catch it in front of you, and the LSU quarterbacks will miss a throw or two in every drive. Auburn was in the game, till a couple of young corners made serious mistakes trying to challenge Reuben Randle. You can’t jump the slant route in Cover-3, because you’re responsible for a whole third of the field. There’s no one behind you. You can’t play press in Cover-2, and get beat to the outside. In defense of safeties Neiko Thorpe and Demetruce McNeal, they were being rolled down close to the line to help against the run. The deep scores were not on them. I also counted off for a couple of dropped interceptions.
Punting: F. Steven Clark had a couple of good punts on the night, but he also had efforts of 24, 24, 30 and 33 yards. That’s 4 of his seven punts that were really short. When Clark did hit a 52-yarder, Auburn coverage gave up a 14 yard return to Odell Beckham. Auburn averaged only 33 net yards per punt, while LSU averaged 50.
Punt Returns: F. Quan Bray did have a seven yard return early, but he also let a ball hit and roll 20 yards, and took another in traffic and fumbled. When the other team hits 4 punts for 50 yards each, you need to get more than 2 punt return yards and a near-turnover.
Kick Returns: D. Kudos to the Auburn return men for continuing to field punts and charge into a war zone, but we’re going to get someone killed back there if we don’t block better. Auburn managed only 19.3 yards per return, and fumbled once. I hopeTre Mason is ok. Looked like he suffered a concussion on the hit that caused the fumble.
Place-kicking: A-. Parkey hit his only field goal attempt, and kicked off three times. The first was a decent shot to the goal line, the second was one of his patented touchbacks, and the third was a shorter one late in the game in garbage time. Points off for the coverage team allowing 24 yards per return.
Offensive Line: F-. (that’s F-minus.) This unit was ineffective. On Auburn’s first three sacks, LSU defensive ends were in the backfield without even being touched. I’m going to be charitable and assume that the apparent lack of effort was guys that didn’t know who to block. Either way, I’m very disappointed in the lack of preparation in this one.
Running Backs: B. It was a day when guys were trying to run at a stone wall of white shirts. When Auburn did get to the corner with McCalebb, they were effective. Phillip Lutzenkirchen made several great seal blocks on the corner, allowing big gains. Also have to salute Onterio McCalebb ( all 170 pounds of him) for taking on unblocked tackles and ends in the backfield. At least McCalebb slowed his man down, and he did manage to pancake a couple of those guys.
Receivers: B. We had guys get wide open in this game, and blocking on the edge was improved over recent outings. Those quick screens to the outside were the only thing working for the Auburn offense on the day. Points off on a couple of dropped balls.
Quarterback: B. It’s hard to find too much fault with Clint Moseley in this one. I did count off for the pick six he threw, but he handled his first start much better than I expected. Has a pretty good knack for ad-libbing out of trouble and still making a play. It’s too bad his line gave him no chance in this one. Kiehl Fraziercontinues to inject a spark into the running game, even through the defense knows that we’re going to run it. As a passer, he’s still a project in the works.
It’s time to bury this loss. For a while there, it was looking to be Auburn’s worst loss of my lifetime. Kudos to the team for fighting on till the end, and getting that last score. This week, a difficult October concludes. Ole Miss will be tough. They’ve looked pretty awful for much of the year, but they gave Arkansas a good bit of trouble yesterday. It figures that Auburn would get them while they are peaking.
I think coach Chizik and his staff will handle this loss and move on. This one was reminiscent of the 2009 loss, in which Auburn looked inept. The very next week, Auburn shocked a Cotton Bowl-bound Rebel team with a three touchdown third quarter avalanche. This Auburn coaching staff doesn’t get too high after wins, and not too low after losses. They keep working, and I think this team will rebound with a win over the Rebels, then they receive a much-needed off week. War Eagle! Let’s push on through, and beat those Rebels!