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Auburn Bombs the Bulldogs! (Grading Auburn’s 49–10 win over Mississippi State)

By on October 1st, 2017 in Football 23 Comments »

Tiger receivers and runners were loosed!
(AP Photo/Butch Dill)

     War Eagle everybody! It’s time now for the Acid Reign Report on Auburn’s first SEC home win of the year, a 49–10 runaway over 24th ranked Mississippi State. Mississippi State moved the ball at times, but could do nothing to slow down an Auburn aerial attack that has become efficient and explosive in recent weeks. At times, Mississippi State was its own worst enemy, committing an astounding 7 false-start penalties. There is a reason those are called “drive killers.”

     If we think back a couple of weeks, Auburn had just eked by Mercer on Homecoming, and Mississippi State was the toast of the SEC after knocking off LSU 37–7. It’s funny how rapidly things can change. A young Bulldog team has been rudely thumped the past two weeks, first at Georgia and then at Auburn. Meanwhile, Auburn has found itself in a strange situation. The issue was this: lose to Missouri or Mississippi State, and that would be a clear sign that the SEC had passed Auburn by. Win, and the skeptics will now say that those 2 teams aren’t very good. The fact is that Auburn blew both of those teams out of the water.

     The Auburn offense continues to improve by leaps and bounds. While Auburn has a stable of hobbled running backs, the Tigers are still getting the ball in the end zone when they get chances in the red zone. And the passing game has taken off! Quarterback Jarrett Stidham has completed over 83 percent of his passes over the last 3 games, including a number of deep bombs to different receivers. I’m not sure any quarterback Auburn has ever put up a 3-game completion percentage like that. And that speaks well of the receiving corps, too. They aren’t dropping balls, and they are running free against SEC secondaries.

     The offensive line has become impressive, and it is doing it with different lineups every week, it seems. In the past 3 games, senior Austin Golson has moved from center, to right tackle then left tackle. Left tackle was a spot that Golson struggled at bit at last season. Not so, yesterday. Golson protected the quarterback’s blind side admirably, and there was often tons of time to throw. Darius James returned this week to start at right tackle. Of the group that was out there, I think every one of the linemen has a future in the NFL.

     A lot of preseason pundits were proclaiming Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald to be one of the most dangerous dual-threat quarterbacks in the league. The Auburn defense gave up some yardage but was able to pressure and harass Fitzgerald, and Mississippi State was only able to sustain 1 drive for a touchdown. The Auburn plan was to limit the MSU run game and force Nick Fitzgerald to beat Auburn with his arm. The Tigers were successful in doing that, and Fitzgerald was only able to complete 39 percent of his passes.

     Special teams were limited on this day. Daniel Carlson missed his only field goal attempt from 51 yards but was again near perfect kicking off. Auburn benched punter Ian Shannon in favor of walk-on Aidan Marshall, but Mississippi State was only able to force 3 Auburn punts. Neither team really wanted to kick to the other team’s return men.

Unit grades after the jump!


Defensive Line: A. I felt the line did a great job at getting penetration and disrupting the Mississippi State game plan. Jeff Holland and Nick Coe were particular nightmares for the Mississippi State backfield and seemed almost unblockable. As a team, the line contributed 25 total tackles, a couple of sacks and 9 quarterback hurries.

Linebackers: A-. The Auburn linebackers continue to do a good job of filling lanes and hunting the football down, even with starting middle linebacker Tré Williams out sitting a second game in a row. Montavious Atkinson again filled in admirably, and the unit soldiered on. Deshaun Davis led all tacklers with 10. Linebackers were credited with 28 total tackles.

Secondary: A. This unit really stepped it up in terms of contested balls. The secondary caused 11 pass breakups, had a couple of interceptions, one on a tip drill by Tray Matthews, and Javaris Davis took one interception for a touchdown. Mississippi State tried to pick on the Auburn corners, and Carlton Davis, Javaris Davis, Jamel Dean and Daniel Thomas were having none of it. The secondary contributed 27 tackles. If the tackle numbers above seem high, it’s because the Auburn offense had a lot of big play, quick scoring drives, and the defense was back out on the field quickly.

Punting: B. New punter Aidan Marshall punted 3 times for just a 36.3 yard average but avoided the low bouncers we had been seeing. The first punt was a 47-yard rain-maker, and the next two were pooch punts that were killed inside the 20.

Punt Returns: B+. Mississippi State punted 5 times, and return man Stephen Roberts fielded 4 of them, letting the remaining punt go for a touchback. Roberts had a couple of fair catches in traffic and had 2 returns for 16 yards. On the season, Roberts has averaged 8.8 yards per return,and has used good judgment at the position.

Kick Returns: B+. Mississippi State kicked a couple of returnable balls, and Auburn’s Noah Igbinoghene averaged 24.5 yards per return. That’s pretty good.

Place Kicking: A. I’m not going to count off much for a miss from 51 yards. On kickoffs, Carlson hit for 7 touchbacks on 8 kickoffs. On the season, Carlson has kicked off 34 times and has 30 touchbacks. That’s a pretty torrid pace!

Offensive Line: A. I thought that this week’s line had the best communication and protection of the year. Mississippi State moved people around, ran stunts, and tried to outflank the Auburn line. Really, none of it worked. The only thing that work did a couple of times was sending an 8-man blitz, and Auburn made MSU pay in the secondary for blitzing. The line this week featured Casey Dunn at center, Mike Horton and Braden Smith at guards, and Austin Golson and Darius James at tackles. They looked good. The scary thing for next season is that only Horton returns.

Running Backs: A-. With Kerryon Johnson and Kamryn Pettway slowed by injuries, and Kam Martin out, the backs struggled to break away. However, between the tackles, they were still able to move the chains when necessary. Some speed sweeps from outside made the rushing average look better than it really was. However, KJ, Pettway and Malik Miller combined for 139 yards, an average of 4.4 yards per carry. I felt like Chandler Cox and Spencer Nigh had good blocking days at H-back.

Receivers: A. Auburn’s receiving corps has really improved in route running, and attacking the ball. There were no drops this week, and the unit averaged a whopping 21.5 yards per catch.

Quarterback: A. I counted off for the lost fumble, as the wise thing to do in that scenario is to take a sack and not try to sling the ball while falling sideways. However, the brilliance and accuracy on so many other passes compensates. On the season, Jarrett Stidham has thrown for 1,110 yards in 5 games. He has 5 touchdowns against just 2 interceptions. Stidham has completed 72 percent of his passes for a ridiculous 9.4 yards per pass. I also loved watching Malik Willis run the zone read late in the game. He’s going to be a tough one to stop in the future!

     It’s another week and another fun romp for the Tigers. Next week Auburn hosts the Ole Miss Rebels in the dreaded 11:00 AM time slot. The Rebels are coming off back-to-back losses, first at Cal, then the destruction by Alabama, 66-3. I think this may be Auburn’s least intimidating remaining SEC game.

     I really enjoyed rewatching this game. There was some gloom and doom in the press and on the boards the previous week, but I thought the home crowd really turned out and made some noise in this one. It was great to see Auburn having fun, and it’s always great to kick a Bulldog! One last thing of note, Auburn has not beaten Mississippi State this badly since a 56–0 blank job in 1970. The 39-point win tops 34-point efforts in 1996 and 2006.


  1. meathead530 says:

    I think letting White go and Cowart leave has helped this team tremendously. Perhaps this team has made a critical turn and it’s going to be fun all the way to the Georgia game and Iron Bowl.

    It’s been nice seeing this team play with confidence too.

  2. audude audude says:

    It’s good to enjoy this win. Bask in the moment….. now let it go. If they are serious about keeping this up then it’s time to move on. Get prepared for Ole Miss.

    War Eagle!

  3. dyingculture dyingculture says:

    Some random thoughts:

    – I don’t get the sense that the offense is even operating at potential yet. The offense moves mostly in fits and starts, and doesn’t seem to have found a rhythm quite yet.

    – Imagine how devastating this RPO will be if/when the running game kicks into high gear.

    – Has anyone noticed that the offense’s renaissance coincided with Lindsey going to the booth, and at the same time the OL started performing when Hand moved to the field?

  4. wpleagle wpleagle says:

    Was Kam Martin injured, or was his not playing just Gus being stubborn?

    • AubTigerman AubTigerman says:

      I would also like to see Pettway get some rest to heal and give No.32 Malik Miller more touches. The guy is a power running back with great downhill speed.

      • Third Generation Tiger Third Generation Tiger says:

        Miller and Kam Martin both deserve more carries. I don’t understand why Malzahn insists on playing two obviously hobbled backs instead of resting them and letting Miller and Martin show what they can do.

  5. easyedwin easyedwin says:

    Fun, fun, fun. Cousin Eddie called the fake punt and Thomas sniffed it out!

    Good grades for all.

    I do not like 11:00 am kicks. Ugh! Onward to Ole Miss.

    Wardam! errybody!!!

  6. neonbets says:

    Here’s an encouraging stat: For the 1st time since 2004, Auburn is averaging more than a 100 yards per game of passing on 1st down. Through 5 games, Auburn has 517 yards passing and 4 touchdowns from 1st down play-calling. [By comparison: During the entire 2011 season, Auburn threw for 411 yards and 0 TDs on 1st down.]

    Even so, Auburn is still running the ball 74% of the time of 1st down.

    This has the makings of a lethal combination going forward: If opposing teams load up against the run, they get punched in the mouth with a strike downfield. If they send in a nickel for the pass, they get punched in the gut with a run up the middle.

    h/t StatTiger . He posted the stat on twitter; he does a great job and is definitely worth the follow:

  7. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..The thing is that the RPOs, supposedly the centerpiece of the offense, aren’t yet being run all that well, or smoothly. We’ve had a few work well, like the one Ryan Davis scored on. A lot of our RPOs were just Stidham keeping or giving it off, this week. MSU defended two receivers with 3 men, a good bit after they were getting lit up.

  8. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..What’s working is Stidham standing in the pocket and just ripping the defense apart. No place on the field is safe from his accurate throws. It’s like Mark Rypien and the old Washington Redskins of the mid 1980s.

  9. Tigerstripe Tigerstripe says:

    Gah, loved watching that one! Kudos to the fans for making so much noise…I love seeing MSU get false starts because of those $*#@!! cowbells they use at home. Can't wait until Pettway gets rolling.

    Enjoying the warmth and glow from the dumpster fire coming from LSU. Has anyone checked on LSU Jonno to see if he's okay? Love seeing the boys have fun on the field too…good stuff right now. WDE!

    • sparkey sparkey says:

      Oh how I love to watch LSU suffer. You guys know by now I hate them most of all. I want us to run up the score on them.

      Okay, folks Gus can beat the mediocre and bad teams. We have to beat one of UGA and Alabama. Period.

      • fasttimes says:

        yeah, im sorry, i still don’t feel good about the offense. and its not the players, its still the play calling. they are still wasting first down when we rip off a big play. every time they rush up to the line snap the ball and run it up the middle. every single time. additionally, the wildcat is not going to work on a defense with a pulse, because again, its soooo predictable.

        and mizzou and ms state are bad….BAD teams. our defense is legit and they played really really well, but ms state easily had 8 drops in that game. maybe more.

        i don’t like to sound like such a downer, but i don’t get the sense that our offense is rapping up (though the passing numbers don’t lie) but that the competition is very poor. and we are running guys (as others have pointed out) who aren’t close to 100%. that has to stop.

        • multipurposepaper says:

          I love the win but we are getting way ahead of ourselves on praise for this offense. Take out KJ’s, Stove’s and Willis’s long runs and we averaged 3.2 ypc. Way too many lost yardage runs and too few holes. The idea that this whole OL is NFL worthy is pretty laughable. Smith is the only sure fire prospect, Golson has a chance at an interior line spot. Dunn, no. James has barely improved.

          I think we are improving and Stidham is really accurate. I love that our receivers are catching passes too. But Chip and Gus are going to need to be smarter about game planning, especially when we hit the road after this week.

          • AuJ says:

            For all of you overly negative fans (ridiculous), why don’t you go compare UGA’s performance against MSST to Auburn’s performance against MSST.
            UGA vs MSS ST-
            Total yards: 404
            Passing: 201
            Rushing: 203
            Yards allowed: 280
            5-11 on 3rd down. 0-1 on 4th down. UGA controlled the ball for 31:19, compared to MSST at 28:14
            Auburn vs MSST
            Total yards: 511
            Passing yards: 267
            Rushing yards: 244
            Yards allowed: 351
            6-12 on 3rd down. 1-1 on 4th down. Auburn controlled the ball for 25:40, compared to MSST at 34:20
            I really have no clue as to why some people are being so critical and negative on this win. Complaining about the playcalling in a 49-10 route over a top 25 SEC opponent (which was the #2 ranked SEC defense last week) is absolutely absurd. The offense is trending in the right direction, 2 dimensional, and looking better every week. Stidham is accurately throwing bombs. Our (less 100%) RB’s are scoring TDs. Our defense is the best it’s been in 10 years, performing at championship caliber. C’mon guys, loose the overly negative outlook and look at the overwhelming amount of positives that are coming from this team AND coaches. Sorry for the rant, but the unnecessary negativity at this point in the season is just too much. We are fans… enjoy the successful season we are currently having AND will continue to have!

          • sparkey sparkey says:

            Actually, the OL isn’t the problem running the ball. There is a reason the healthy backs get big chunks of yardage. Casey Dunn is a great college OL. He doesn’t need to be some NFL player for us. I am going to say this again: the line isn’t the problem. Coaching is the problem. Look, if we would run Miller and Martin Considtently with Stidham passing, our offense would be scary. Unfortunately, Gus just won’t do that.

            Oh, and spare me anybody who is about to chime in about pass protection. That is completely garbage reasoning just like saying Mercer’s linebackers were too big.

      • dyingculture dyingculture says:

        I saw that Orgeron has a 5 year contract with a $12 million buyout this year. And that’s not even including the assistant coaches as well. Plus, LSU is paying Les Miles $8 million over the next 6 years for the buyout of his contract. LSU can’t get rid of Orgeron no matter how badly they want to fire him! That is, unless they want to start stacking buyouts and pay 3 head coaches for the next 5 years.

  10. War_Eagle_2010 War_Eagle_2010 says:

    I was really happy with the play calling in this game. The down field passes were all perfectly timed calls that the coaches deserve to be credited for. Defense was great as usual. Carlson was ok, too bad about the doink. Punt returns were a mixed bag, the ball that was downed at the 1 should have been fair caught, but Robert’s did a great job fielding that punt that bounced off someone’s leg. The only negative is the stable of hurt running backs. Had we had a healthy Kam, Kam, or KJ then the rushinh average would have been way higher. All in all, things are looking way up!

    War Eagle

  11. fasttimes says:


    ive seen this movie before. Auburn curb stomps really bad teams and doesn’t beat good ones. malzahn plays players that have no business being on the field to the detriment of the player and the rest of the team. we run the same goofy 1st down run up the middle out of the HUNH.

    despite how out of wack ole miss and lsu look, those are not gimme wins. if the offense continues to improve ill happily eat crow, but until they finish a team with a pulse ill be realistic. call it negative if you like. i know what im watching up to this point.

  12. multipurposepaper says:


    As “ridiculous” and “absurd” you may find my opinions, there is reason for concern. One, being the fact we rammed our clearly hobbled RB into the line on 41% of our offensive plays. One of those went for 59 yards (and KJ had to pull up fearing injury) the rest combined for 2.6 ypc. That’s not good coaching nor is it evidence that we have figured out what ails our running game. As I said, we are no doubt improved. When given time, Stidham is lethal and I like that the WRs are getting open and catching balls. But I am simply saying lets tap the breaks on the “this whole OL is NFL worthy” talk because there is no evidence at all to back up a statement like that and it only serves to ratchet up unrealistic expectations.

    The three game road trip is going to be big. Barring disaster against the Ole Miss whatevers, we should be comfortably favored in all three. Continue to improve, win and build confidence in those three then we have something to get excited about. Until then, I think it best to see these last two wins for what they were: Awesome defensive performances and improved offensive games against two teams with significantly inferior talent.

  13. jlobailey says:

    I absolutely agree. The worst part is fans wanting Gus fired after the Clemson game. People say they’ve seen this before. I have too. 2013- a one score win over the WSU fighting Leaches, a last second TD to win over a mediocre Mississippi State, a 14 point loss to LSU, and then you know the rest. DON’T FIRE THE COACH UNTIL THE SEASON IS OVER. And keep supporting the team (coaches included) until the dust is settled.

  14. […] Auburn Tigers put on a textbook demonstration of a complete football game in last Saturday’s 49-10 win over No.24 Mississippi State. The Tigers put up 511 yards of offense evenly divided between the […]