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Auburn Dominates Alabama! (Grading Auburn’s 26–14 win over Alabama)

By on November 26th, 2017 in Football 37 Comments »
Iron Bowl jump pass grades

A wildcat jump pass, for a touchdown!
(AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

     War Eagle everybody! It’s time now for the Acid Reign Report on Auburn’s incredible 26–14 win over top-ranked Alabama at Jordan-Hare Stadium. No miracle finish was needed this time over Alabama as Auburn enjoyed its biggest margin of Iron Bowl victory since 1969. Twice in the past 3 weeks Auburn has hosted the number one team in the nation, and both times Auburn came away with a double-digit victory. It is an unprecedented feat!

     My biggest worry coming into this game was the battle in the trenches. It is very tough to do much of anything against the Tide on either side of the ball if a team can’t win up front. I feel like Auburn emphatically won this latest battle. Looking back to 2015 and 2016, I felt like Auburn won a lot of battles up front in those games, too, at least till the defense got tired. The real difference this year was quarterback play. Auburn had a stellar quarterback this year, and it made all of the difference. Jarrett Stidham had a masterful day against the top-ranked defense in the nation. Meanwhile, Auburn was able to harrass and limit Stidham’s Alabama counterpart.

     We knew going in that Alabama was very tough against the run and that Auburn likely would not have much success just hammering at the Tide front. Alabama also has the speed to string out jet sweeps and limit them. Auburn was a little stubborn about pounding the ball on first down, but it had to be done. Auburn was not going to win this ballgame throwing it 50 times. Auburn ran the ball 49 times for 168 yards and threw 29 times for 240 yards. The short passing game was critical. Time and time again, Auburn converted screens and crossing patterns for first downs and more. This allowed Auburn to build up a big time of possession advantage and wear down the Alabama defense. Auburn scored 16 unanswered points in the second half to take the victory from the Crimson Tide.

     On defense, aside from a second half opening drive, Auburn was able slow down Alabama’s run game and blanket its receivers. Frankly, if I were a Bama fan, I would be angry at the offensive play callers, who did not get any Alabama running back more than 6 carries. I really think that they gave up on it way too soon when they fell behind. Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts led all Alabama rushers with 82 yards, but he had to work hard to get them. Hurts was not going to beat Auburn with his arm. The Auburn pass rush and secondary saw to that. While Hurts was only sacked twice, he was harassed into throwing the ball away, repeatedly killing drives. Auburn was credited with 9 total quarterback hurries and limited Alabama to just 112 passing yards on 22 attempts.

     I was also worried about special teams mistakes hurting Auburn. Auburn gave up a big 55-yard kick return after taking a 20–14 lead, but the defense held with Alabama having a tipped touchdown catch nullified on replay and then botching a field goal attempt. Otherwise, Auburn covered decently, and Daniel Carlson scored every time he was called on. I was worried about Auburn punter Aiden Marshall getting badly outpunted by Alabama’s J. K. Scott, but Marshall performed admirably. He pinned Alabama inside the 20 on 3 of his 5 punts and forced a couple of Bama fair catches. Alabama managed no punt returns in the game. Alabama did bring the ball out of the end zone on kickoffs 3 times, but other than the one big return, Alabama was tackled inside the 25-yard line, losing yardage it would have otherwise had if the Tide had taken a knee.

Unit grades after the jump!

Defensive Line: A-. I counted off a bit on Alabama’s first drive of the second half. Auburn got caught repeatedly on that drive not setting the edge on those backside counter plays. To its credit, that got corrected quickly. The line managed only 2 tackles for a loss on the day, and the defense had just 3, overall. However, that was not the focus on this day. Auburn had to occupy blockers and not let Alabama run wild around the edges with their great runners. That mission was largely accomplished. The line contributed 23 tackles in total.

Linebackers: A. The total tackles numbers don’t tell the true story of this performance as Auburn played linebacker with leverage. Time and time again these guys forced Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts and various runners into traffic and waiting help. Deshaun Davis was the team co-leader in tackles with 7. The linebackers contributed 15 total tackles.

Secondary: A-. There was more sure tackling this week, and the Auburn secondary did not allow Alabama runners or receivers to get away for the most part. Bama had a little bit of success running to Tray Matthews’ side of the field, but a lot more failure, overall. Matthews co-led the team in tackles with 7. The secondary contributed 24 total tackles in this game. Auburn limited the ever-dangerous Calvin Ridley to just 3 catches for 38 yards. The key play of the game was made by Auburn cornerback Jordyn Peters. Alabama moved Ridley around all game to try and get him open. It finally got him matched up on Peters, and you could see jubilation on the Alabama side. The Tide were just sure with the game tied 7–7 that they were about to hit a big TD pass to Ridley. Instead, Peters broke up the pass and killed the Alabama drive. Bama would not threaten again in the first half, and real doubt was sown in the Bama passing game after that.

Punting: A. Aiden Marshall had a very good day, even if the 35.8 yard average does not show it. Most of Marshall’s punts were from around midfield, and his job was not to punt it into the stands for a touchback. His job was to pin Alabama deep and not allow a return. Mission accomplished!

Punt Returns: B. Stephen Roberts uncharacteristically let one ball hit and roll for about 20 yards, but that’s about the only thing I can fault the return team for against all-star punter JK Scott. Scott boomed ’em for a 46-yard average, and a second ball was killed at the Auburn 6. Tiger return men fair caught the other two in traffic.

Kick Returns: B+. Noah Igbinoghene had two kick returns. One was a conventional kickoff to the goal line, and Igbinoghene got 21 yards out of it, which isn’t bad at all against Alabama’s pretty good coverage team. The second kick was a pooch kick, and kudos to Igbinoghene for not only snaring that ball but getting 10 yards out of it. Alabama was hoping for a miscue.

Place Kicking: B+. Auburn had a great kicker in this game, and coverage was better than it has been in recent weeks. Daniel Carlson was perfect on 2 field goals and 2 extra points. Carlson hit 2 touchbacks on 5 kickoffs, but 4 of 5 made it into the end zone.

Offensive Line: B-. Auburn had difficulty at times with the Bama pass rush, particularly on the edge. Also, Auburn could not consistently move Alabama nose tackle Da’Ron Payne, which hampered the Auburn running game. Auburn did have some success run blocking the Bama ends and linebackers. And kudos to the Auburn coaching for recognizing the difficulties and changing the play calls to minimize the damage.

Running Backs: A-. This was mostly the Kerryon Johnson show at tailback again, but Kam Martin came in and played tough when Auburn was trying to run the clock out. Against the best defense in the nation statistically, KJ had 104 yards on 30 carries, caught 3 balls for 21 yards, and had a touchdown pass for good measure. Where I counted off was on pass protection. Auburn backs struggled a bit with Alabama’s dangerous pass rushers.

Receivers: A. I saw one dropped ball on the day, and that was on a contested out route by Nate Craig-Myers. To Auburn’s credit, it went right back to Craig-Myers on the very next play on a surgical post-pattern strike for a first down. Ryan Davis was a constant thorn in Alabama’s side, picking up 139 yards on 11 catches. Alabama got pressure on the quarterback, but Davis was there to toss the hot route to, and Alabama just could not keep up with him. Darius Slayton and Will Hastings also contributed key catches on quick throws. Auburn tried just a couple of deep balls to Slayton, and the Bama defensive back tackled Slayton both times, right in front of an official, and no penalties were called. In the interest of fairness, Auburn was only flagged once on several questionable grabs. I was irate about this during the game, but a second viewing showed more referee consistency than I had thought. They weren’t going to call holding or interference on either side, unless it was ridiculously blatant. Let ’em play, I guess.

Quarterback: A. I guess I have to count off for the fumbled snap on the goal line, but, wow, this was one of the best Iron Bowl performances for an Auburn quarterback I’ve ever seen. Stidham was just an assassin in this game. Alabama would win up front, have the lid on the coverage, and Stidham would still get a completion, or take off and pick up key first downs. It was Stidham running like a fullback in the 4th quarter on a keeper that iced the game for Auburn. Against Alabama’s vaunted defense, Stidham hit 21 of 28 passes, with no interceptions, for 237 yards. That works out to 8.4 yards per pass, which is enough to move the chains and win the Iron Bowl! This was accomplished against an Alabama defense which allows only 5.5 yards per pass on the season.

     By all accounts, the Auburn fandom in attendance should be credited, too. We thought it was loud at the Georgia game, but according to witnesses, it was bedlam of the next order of magnitude in this one, and the noise contributed to some Bama miscues. One instance was when Auburn had driven to take a 20–14 lead. I feel like the noise on Alabama’s field goal attempt disrupted the center-holder timing and caused the lost snap. Then, there were back-to-back plays when Alabama needed to move the ball, trailing 26-14, that the center snapped the ball before quarterback Jalen Hurts was ready.

     There were heroic performances all around by these Tigers. Some teams are intimidated and already half beaten by Alabama before the game even starts. Auburn went toe to toe with this number-one-ranked Tide team and won most of the battles. Regardless of what happens going forward this year, this is something amazing these players can take with them forever. They took on Goliath and manhandled him!

     And so, Auburn moves on to the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta next Saturday. Auburn will face the Georgia Bulldogs for the second time in 4 weeks. The Bulldogs are no doubt still smarting from the 40–17 beatdown Auburn put on them and will look to avenge that in the shiny new stadium in Atlanta. I figure that this game will have incredibly high ticket prices as both fan bases will want to get a numbers advantage in the stands over the other side.

     Can Auburn whip Georgia again? I’ll do some research this week, but I have to feel like a fast, artificial surface favors Auburn in a lot of areas. Auburn’s defense relies on power up front and overwhelming speed in the back seven. Auburn’s offense has ridiculous speed and quickness at the receiver positions, and Auburn has the quarterback and scheme to get the ball to them. I’m looking forward to this one! It would be unprecedented fun to kick a Bulldog twice in one season!

37 Comments

  1. neonbets says:

    The coaches really deserve some high grades as well. Easy to rag on them when we lose, but they really stepped up at the end of the year. Essentially Auburn beat Ala in every phase of the game.

    I didn’t get to watch it at Jordan-Hare, but I was able to see it at a movie theater—-which piped it in live. It was awesome…except that it was filled with bammer fans. Not only that, but the JERK in the next row up filmed me as I watched the game. Not only that– he posted some of the footage on YouTube. I could not believe it!

    Anyways…not to be vain, but here’s some of the footage of me watching the 2017 Iron Bowl at the theater with a bunch of bammer fans. Personally, I’m kinda proud of myself for showing such restraint, dignity and class:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M6HxD6sZ-I0&feature=youtu.be&t=56s

  2. mvhcpa says:

    I keep wondering how our O-Line starts to get beat constantly for a little while, then gets it all together the rest of the way—I guess I don’t understand how adjustments work in football!

    Also, I keep hearing from Bama fans how the refs were all biased toward AU—if the mantra was “let em play” then it cut both ways.

    Most ludicrous Bama complaint—about the “fake” ripping off of the helmet that gave us a first down—really? Can that even be faked?

    Michael Val
    (Who would really like a complete explanation of the AU 12-men penalty while Bama wasn’t even set!)

    • Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

      …..Defensive lines wear down quicker than offensive lines. The O-line knows what it’s going to do, pre-snap. The defensive guy has to react to the play, which uses more energy. Auburn ran 78 offensive snaps, to just 62 for Bama. Thus, it’s easier to run the ball and pass protect, later in the game, against most opponents.

      …..Honestly, the adjustments weren’t really made on the line. The decision was made to mostly run between the tackles. For Stidham, it looked like a pre-snap read, a hot read, then he was to take off running if those two weren’t open.

      …..Both of Stidham’s arms were holding the ball, when the helmet game off. What, he undid his chin strap and shucked the helmet, with no hands? heh.

      …..The 12 men thing was ridiculous. Bama should have been flagged for illegal formation, and early movement, and the play should have been blown dead as soon as they snapped it, due to the motion. At worst, it should have been a replay the down, offsetting flag deal.

    • ATL_AU_FAN ATL_AU_FAN says:

      I don’t understand all of the adjustments either. But, as long as they are positive then I’m content.
      And, seriously mvhcpa, you’ve never heard of the fake ripping off of the helmet? Man, that’s been around as long as helmets started to be worn. No, not the leather ones – those could actually fall off – which started this whole trend. No, not at all, it takes a serious contender to be able to rip off a real helmet, get penalized for it, and have that fanbase call it fake.
      And, that “12-men on the field” penalty was completely legit – my gosh, the defense cannot have 12 men on the field! Why, the opposition even snapped the ball before the offense was set just to ensure their opponent still had 12 men on the field.
      I fail to understand what, exactly, you are missing here.

    • dyingculture dyingculture says:

      Yeah, the guy who bet me on a 20-point spread on this game has now been making the rounds telling everyone how the game they saw isn’t really the game that was played. Except he has been focusing on those bad snaps and something something blah blah blah, Bama would have won the game if it weren’t for those bad snaps.

      • ATL_AU_FAN ATL_AU_FAN says:

        Uh, yeah. Were there stipulations for the loss? If not, then it doesn’t matter. They gave you the points. Bama would only have won this game if they had garnered more points. They didn’t.

  3. meathead530 says:

    I think Gus reads this blog, doesn’t? I’m sorry Coach for doubting you. I’m sorry I whined after the LSU loss. You lead this talented team to victory. Well done, Coach.

    Lots of good things seen this this game. This team is special. Hoping KJ can play Saturday!

    War Eagle!

  4. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..I don’t think a college coach has time to worry about bloggers analyzing the play calls! They work 16 hour days year-round, and they are going to call what they think gives them the best chance to win.

  5. friedca friedca says:

    An amazing end to the season. I didn’t think back in October we would be continuing play into the first week of December. Great job by the players, coaching staff, and fans in attendance. I love how every Bama fan I know before the game talked about how if one 5 star goes down they have another in back up, then complain after the loss because they had injuries on defense. Give me a break. I think my favorite post game photo is Malzahn sitting in Waffle House post game. I think we remember what happened the last time he celebrated this way. War Eagle, onto Atlanta.

  6. ATL_AU_FAN ATL_AU_FAN says:

    And, ESPN reporting that Dan Mullen is leaving Mississippi State to return to Florida; this time as the Head Coach.
    Sumlin also out at aTm —

  7. Tigers5711 says:

    i’m glad some have expressed regrets today about comments a month ago wanting to see Malzahn gone from Auburn. I expressed great frustration with him too at his blowing the LSU game but defending the position that we needed to keep him. By comparison just look at all the failures in the SEC this year. Granted GM did fail at LSU but others have failed much worse. Bama was the world champion at 11-0 and failed to show up at JH yesterday. GA also failed to look like no. 1 at Auburn. Miss St failed to beat Ole Miss a bad team this week. TAMA, AR, TN, OM and FL all fired their coaches this year too or will fire them. Still GM is the only head coach in the SEC other than Saban who has won the SEC and gotten his team into the NC game and he could well win the SEC again this week vs GA. After years with a weaker defense he’s hired the best DC we’ve had in a while and it’s shown up big time vs GA and Bama this year. If he beats GA on Sat. it’s not at all impossible that he’ll be back in ATL in mid January for the big one for all the marbles.

  8. Orangeblood says:

    First.
    Bama was way overrated this year. Didn’t have the best ball handlers this year except Ridley.

    Second.
    Their play calling was questionable, had they lined up and ran smashmouth football in the second hall, game could have had a different outcome, or at least been closer than double digits.

    Third.
    They played into their own weaknesses. Hurts is not gonna bet us with the pass, how many times did he throw it away?

    And…
    Good thing Jarret’s helmut came off or that defender could have broke his neck. There needs to be a penalty/ejection for deliberate injuries to players.

    Lastly….,,,
    We just Flushed the Tide.
    roll tide roll, round the rim, and down the hole!

    Doubt the Red Empire will may CFBPO or even the SugarBowl.

    See you in the…,
    “What’s in your Wallet?” Bowl.

    Waarrrrr Eaagglle.. Hey!

  9. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    ……Lots of wild goings on, in the head coaching world. It’s unprecedented to see 5 SEC head coaches lose their jobs in a year, and Mullen’s move makes 6 head coaching changes in the SEC, this year.
    …..Craziest thing in the search right now is that Tennessee was going to hire Greg Schiano, but backed out when Vol. fans went nuclear today on twitter and other venues. You might remember Schiano being named in the Penn State child-molester mess a few years back. Testimony indicated that he witnessed some of this, and basically did nothing. It gets better. Apparently, Schiano and UT had already signed some papers, and Schiano’s camp now wants his buyout.
    ……I’ve seen speculation that Jimbo is headed to Texas A&M, but I don’t see him taking that one. Aggies just fired a guy who did not have a losing season, and Fisher would have to deal with some big-time programs in the SEC West. RIght now, he just has to deal with Clemson as a serious thread.
    ……I think Ole Miss did the right thing, hiring Matt Luke as a permanent coach. No big name was going to touch that program with the NCAA looming, and Luke did a great job holding that squad together under adverse circumstances.

    • dyingculture dyingculture says:

      Matt Campbell just said that he won’t touch Tennessee. ESPN is now saying that the Tennessee brand is so damaged that it will be tough to find any reputable coach to take the job. I can see why. So now Tennessee seems to be back on the Gruden bandwagon because they have nothing else to hold on to at all.

      To top it all off, Tennessee is becoming such a dumpster fire that not only are recruits decommitting, but players currently on the roster seem to be thinking of transferring. Wow. Can’t say I blame them.

      If Tennessee doesn’t fix this quick, this could damage their brand so badly that it could take the better part of a decade to recover.

      … and in other news, Arkansas seems to have no backup plan for hiring Malzahn, and there is no apparent search committee. A&M has gone all in on Jimbo, and if they can’t get him then they have no idea what they will do either. So that is three SEC programs that are without a coach and are completely clueless and adrift.

    • Third Generation Tiger Third Generation Tiger says:

      A couple of media guys that claim insider knowledge of A&M claim that Fisher to A&M is a done deal. We’ve all heard that before but A&M has more money than Davey Crockett and Fisher just may be sick of the nut job Free Shoes U environment.

      UT AD John Currie FUBARed their coaching search so badly that talk is he may not be allowed to participate in round two. Seriously, what knucklehead would think that Greg Schiano would be a good fit at Rocky Top, even if he wasn’t sporting monogrammed Sandusky baggage? Makes you wonder who his second choice is.

  10. sparkey sparkey says:

    Honestly, we are just simply better this time. If you played that game 10 more times, Auburn would win about 8 or so of them give or take one.

  11. Tigerstripe Tigerstripe says:

    – One of my favorite things to do after we beat bama is go to their blog spots and read the melt downs…don’t comment, just read. Don’t stay long as your IQ will slowly diminish. I recommend rollbamaroll (go to the dark web and take a left); it’s a good blend of red-neckedness, middle school humor with a splash of perverse obscenity. This group cares nothing about spelling, sentence structure, knowledge of football or generalized common sense and is the only place that I know of where you can read f-bombs in the same sentence with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It’s a magically dumb place to visit but very entertaining.
    – IMHO, my documented disappointment for CGM was warranted (of which I make no apologies) for the LSU game this year and the fact that he has struggled with our biggest rivals. He has bought some time at this point, hoping, HOPING that he has finally developed into a solid head coach at the highest level of the sport.

  12. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..I respect some of the writers on RBR, but the commentard….

    …..RBR does a Tuesday “this week in college football” sort of post that’s pretty great. I read the meltdown threads, too. One of their guys does a tailgate recipes post every week, and I read that with interest.

    …..The constant ya-ya-ing, (Little Brother, the Barn, etc.) I could do without. You’ll note that I don’t call them West Vance, or any of that sort of junk. They are a team I love to see go down, but it’s because of those mouthy fans in the meltdown second. I respect the football program, the players and the coaching staff. They have earned their elite status in college football.

    • Tigerstripe Tigerstripe says:

      I used to hate Saban but now that I’ve matured a bit (a’ hem), I see him more as a CEO of a great corporation who knows how to get the best out of employees. His “process” is the best out there but I love the fact that he has trouble beating good Auburn teams. As far as their fans go, I know the blogosphere isn’t populated with educated Alabama alum but rather “back woods”, mouth-breathers with dial-up modems who buy their Alabama merchandise at gas stations… I’m so thankful that Auburn doesn’t carry the population of the state’s fan base.

      • friedca friedca says:

        Agree with you on respecting the program. On another note I wish we would stop yelling overrated after big wins. Overrated means they aren’t as good as originally assumed. In some cases this is true but in cases of Georgia and Bama it gives their fans the opportunity to say you just beat a weaker team that’s all. No we beat a great Georgia and Bama team and we beat them strong. Don’t give them ammo to dimish Auburn achievements

  13. easyedwin easyedwin says:

    Looking back to August, I only saw one loss for our season and that was to LSU. Now, I have to say Auburn has done well with 2 losses. Winning the Ga game and the Bama game was sweet. Had we beaten LSU, Auburn would be #1 or 2 today.

  14. AUWood1425 says:

    What a night….what a month! I’ve been looking for stats on when was the last time – if ever – a team beat two No. 1s in the same season….has anyone found anything?

    Also, has anyone heard an update on Kerryon Johnson? If we don’t have him or Pettway – which I don’t even think is an option – can Kam Martin get it done against Georgia?

    Great to be an Auburn Tiger!

    • meathead530 says:

      Says he is “banged up.” He twitter says he will “be fine.” He also just stated he’s doing everything he can to be healthy Saturday. Teammates are confident he will play. So no definitively answer, but slightly optimistic?

  15. audad says:

    AUWood, I believe I heard it said that this is the first time that a team has beaten two #1’s. Certainly since the playoff format started a few years ago. How far back beyond that, I don’t know. Regarding earlier references to the rollbamaroll site, thanks for the reminders. I need to get there for some entertainment. I initially found it four years ago after the kick six game. Must admit once I got on there I stayed for almost two hours, frequently laughing out loud and pretty hard. Some of those poor folks were on the verge of hurting themselves I think, and they certainly wanted some vengeance on some of the coaches and poor players for letting the unthinkable happen. Speaking of slogans, a friend told me had that tipped pass not been overturned and Bama had gone on to win, this could have been possibly tabbed the tip six game.

  16. Orangeblood says:

    Ammo?
    AMMO?
    We should not say ammo!
    Somebody may not like that!!!

    Nobody should give an opinion here!!!

    Give me a break.

  17. Pine Mt Tiger Pine Mt Tiger says:

    Another good one Acid! Love this> "Auburn went toe to toe with this number-one-ranked Tide team and won most of the battles. Regardless of what happens going forward this year, this is something amazing these players can take with them forever. They took on Goliath and manhandled him" – WDE!!!

  18. Tigers5711 says:

    Strength of schedule does matter. GA & Bama had easy schedules until they came south. Thankfully they were both ranked #1 coming to JH so we could add 2 victories to our resume over #1 teams at years end to get us into the playoffs assuming we prevail at the Benz this Sat.
    Hate to say it but the LSU loss was what the Dr ordered we needed a wake up call. Bama had a wake up call at Miss State but didn’t wake up to the fact they were just a good team not great and not ready for prime time.

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