Auburn Comes Up Short Against Georgia (Grading Auburn’s 21–14 loss to Georgia)
Auburn’s freshman quarterback almost saved the day.
(AP Photo/John Reed.)
War Eagle everybody. It’s time now for the Acid Reign Report on a tough 21–14 loss to the Georgia Bulldogs. Despite holding Georgia to just 251 yards of offense, Auburn managed only a couple of late touchdowns and had to try to pull to a tie near the end of the game. It was said before the game that the Tigers would have to run the ball effectively to win this game. Unfortunately, they finished with just 84 yards on the ground.
It was certainly a punters’ duel in the first half. Aside from one blown coverage, Auburn shut Georgia down and appeared to be headed to halftime only a single touchdown behind. Instead, some questionable strategy backfired. Earlier, Auburn erred on the side of conservatism, missing a 47-yard field goal instead of trying to pick up the first down. Late in the half, Auburn had Georgia pinned deep with about a minute and a half to go. Georgia handed off and appeared to be willing to run the clock out on the half. Despite the Bulldogs gaining over 5 yards on the play, Auburn called timeout, hoping to get the ball back one more time. There was little to gain by that strategy as Georgia still would have been able to run the clock down under a minute before punting, and the Auburn offense was struggling mightily. The next play, Auburn gambled on an all-out A-gap blitz. Unfortunately, Georgia had a quick outside pitch called, and no one from Auburn had contain on the edge. Georgia picked up a big chunk of yards and marched smartly downfield against a dazed Auburn defense to take a 14–0 lead into halftime. The timeout call was especially risky as Georgia was also going to get the ball first to start the second half.
Auburn stopped Georgia twice in the 3rd quarter, but the 3rd time was the charm for the Bulldogs. Auburn’s defense had some miscues, being flagged for personal fouls twice on the drive, and tried to cover 3 receivers with 1 man near the goal line. Georgia had an easy short screen pass completion with 2 blockers out front and got its 3rd touchdown of the day.
Down 21–0 to start the 4th quarter, Auburn finally started running some hurry-up offense. The result was a long touchdown drive. Auburn appeared to recover an onside kick attempt, but the officials reviewed the play and added a penalty that was not called on the field for an illegal block. I was furious, as I didn’t think a penalty could be assessed after the fact. Unfortunately, I was wrong. There are a few penalties that can be added on review. Those include targeting, number of players on the field, illegal touching on pass plays, players offside on kicking plays, and the one that got Auburn, blocking before a kickoff travels 10 yards.
Georgia was only able to run about a minute off the clock before giving it back to Auburn. Tigers hurried up again and scored quickly. Georgia again went 3 and out, helping Auburn with 2 clock-stopping incomplete passes. Auburn got the ball back with 6 minutes left and plenty of time for a tying touchdown. The drive stalled on a not great throw and not-caught-on-4th-down play. Auburn got the ball back a last time but after burning all of its timeouts and forcing Georgia to go 3 and out again. A trio of incomplete passes and a sack ended the day for the Tigers. A good defensive and special teams day was wasted.
Unit grades after the jump!
Defensive Line: B+. The line did a fine job against a really tough offensive line for the most part. I thought Auburn lost the outside edge a few times and picked up some penalties that kept Georgia drives alive. The line tallied 15 total tackles, including 6 by Derrick Brown.
Linebackers: B-. I felt like Kenny Britt had a good day, but the rest of the linebackers were largely neutralized by Georgia blocking. Linebackers made just 7 total tackles all day, 6 of them by Britt.
Secondary: A-. I counted off for a couple of costly coverage busts that awarded Georgia 14 points, but this group covered well and made tackles. The secondary had 32 total tackles and several passes broken up.
Punting: A. Arryn Siposs had a busy day, punting 7 times for a 45.1 yard average, with 3 killed inside the Georgia 20. Auburn’s coverage allowed no punt-return yards.
Punt Returns: A-. Christian Tutt made only 1 mistake, fielding a ball at the 6-yard line, but he returned it out over the 20 yard line, so there was no harm done. Tutt was able to return 3 punts for 43 yards and helped field position on those returns.
Kick Returns: n.a. Georgia’s Rodrigo Blankenship booted the ball deep, and Auburn did not have the opportunity to return any kickoffs.
Place Kicking: A. All of Anders Carlson’s kickoffs made the end zone. Georgia foolishly tried to run one out, and got dumped by Auburn’s coverage team at the 20. I did not count off for the missed 47-yard field goal. The decision to try that field goal in that situation goes on the coaches.
Offensive Line: B. Auburn actually got some push in the middle at times and pass protected pretty well. Georgia was running some really unorthodox looks on defense, and Auburn was unable to take advantage strategically. Bo Nix was sacked twice and hurried only once, according to the stat sheet.
Running Backs: C. Auburn had only a little success running right at Georgia. This worked because a lot of the time, Georgia was only rushing 2 or 3 linemen and dropping everyone else out in coverage/contain mode. That strategy kept Auburn from having much success on sweeps. When Auburn did start showing a commitment to run up the gut, Georgia would send a run blitz and force Auburn into 2nd and 3rd and long situations.
Receivers: B. Had a few dropped passes, but not many, considering that the Tigers threw 50 passes. Seth Williams had a great day, facing a good secondary.
Quarterback: B-. My main critique of Bo Nix this week was the tendency to run out of the pocket. I still think he is leaving his protection too early at times. Georgia did all it could to rattle Nix with weird looks, faking big blitzes and mixing up coverages. I did count off for the lost fumble but have to question the coaches for the decision to run several quarterback draws this week with only 1 other scholarship quarterback on the roster. When finally allowed to operate at pace in the 4th quarter, Nix made plays. Nix scored the first touchdown on the ground that Georgia has allowed all year.
It was a disappointing loss, because Auburn could have won the game with better decisions from the sideline. I have to give Georgia credit for playing tough in a hostile venue against a tough team. I’ll be interested to see what that defense does with LSU in a few weeks.
I noticed some “fake news” while I was hunting through Google Images today. I saw a post uploaded to YouTube stating that a Georgia photography intern was paralyzed from a collision on the sideline. I wanted to assure everyone that the post is not true. We were all pretty horrified at the time, especially with the precautions the medical staff took. The young lady was discharged from East Alabama Medical Center Saturday night with bruises and a concussion. I am glad it was not more serious.
Sometimes we forget that football is a violent game and that there are occasionally consequences, even to those on the sideline. Count me among those who is very sad about the dislocated hip suffered by Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa Saturday. I love to see Auburn beat Alabama in any sport, but I also respect its football team and players. My sympathy goes out to a great player and an even better person. May he make a full recovery!