Auburn Stunned by LSU (Grading Auburn vs. LSU)
A last second field goal dooms Auburn
(AP Photo/Butch Dill)
War Eagle everybody! It’s time now for the Acid Reign Report on Auburn’s painful 22-21 loss at home to the LSU Tigers. For the second week in a row, Auburn came out sleep walking early, and this time it proved costly. Furthermore, with the game on the line in the 4th quarter, Auburn could not avoid costly penalties that either killed Auburn drives or kept LSU ones alive.
Much has been made online and elsewhere about the pass interference penalties that Auburn seems to rack up every week. It’s really a national trend. I’ve seen lots of them called in other games, too. The bottom line is that teams and players have to adapt. You’re going to draw flags if your modus operandi is to turn your back to the quarterback, and grab and slap the receiver all the way down the field. Auburn is going to have to do a better job of keeping them in front and making the other team execute.
Both teams knew that running yards in this game would be tough to come by, and hence both teams came out throwing early. Auburn’s first pass was disastrously picked off as it was thrown off target towards the middle of the field on a sideline route. Then the Auburn receiving corps got a big case of the dropsies. Meanwhile, LSU hit pass after pass, and Auburn could do nothing about it except grab, which tacked on more yardage.
There was some strange play calling on the Auburn side. On 3rd or 4th and 1, Auburn several times tried a shotgun running play with 3 or 4 wide receivers out there and no tight ends. That philosophy needs to come out of the playbook, permanently! This week, it was especially head-scratching, when there was doubt that Auburn could move LSU’s defensive front.
Folks, the offensive line needs continued work. There has been lots of online piling on guard Mike Horton and center Kaleb Kim, but there were issues across the board in this game. LSU got the speed rush around left tackle several times, then late in the game a swim move inside the same spot. The good news is that the line did play well at times, particularly during the stretch before halftime and early in the 3rd quarter. That means all is not lost here. These guys can get better.
Auburn had a decent day, overall, on special teams although a bad snap did derail a long field-goal attempt. Both kickers missed from 50+ yards in this game. Punter Arryn Siposs looked really good. I had forgotten what it looks like when an Auburn punter hammers one 50+ yards. LSU decided to kick it to JaTarvious Whitlow, once. He punished the LSU return team with a 36-yard return. Ryan Davis did a solid job returning punts.
Unit grades after the jump!
Defensive Line: B-. The line did not exactly get blown off the ball but was not able to create much havoc in the backfield. Collectively, the line managed only 3 tackles for loss and no sacks. The line contributed 22 total tackles.
Linebackers: A-. I think what describes this bunch the best is “relentless pursuit.” Auburn held Nick Brosette to just 69 yards on the ground, and the LSU team managed just 121 on the ground. With numbers like that, I would have thought that Auburn wins this game in a rout. Deshaun Davis had 4 tackles for a loss by himself. The linebackers contributed 23 total tackles, 13 of them by Davis.
Secondary: D+. Auburn had missed assignments, a bunch of interference flags, and allowed a back-breaking 79-yard catch-and-run touchdown with the game on the line. Time and time again, LSU was able to heave it upfield on 3rd and long and get a first down.
Punting: A. Arryn Siposs averaged 47 yards on 5 punts, and only 1 was returned for just 4 yards. Excellent job!
Punt Returns: B+. Ryan Davis had no loose balls, this week. He was able to pick up 24 yards on 3 returns, but more importantly, he did a good job of getting away from bouncing balls inside the 10-yard line. Auburn needs to block a bit better on these.
Kick Returns: B+. Auburn only had one opportunity, and Whitlow was one more block from breaking it for a huge gain. As it was, Auburn picked up 36 yards on that return.
Place Kicking: B. Anders Carlson nailed all 4 of his kickoffs for touchbacks and hit all 3 extra points. The miss on the lone field-goal attempt was from 52 yards. What was a shame on that play is that a better snap would have helped. The ball was snapped low and on the wrong side of holder Ian Shannon. Shannon fielded it and got it down, but the play was slowed down because of the extra motion. I also think how the ball was hastily placed as Carlson ended up kicking the laces of the ball.
Offensive Line: D+. Most of my issues are addressed above. The holding penalties that killed Auburn’s last couple of drives were extremely costly.
Running Backs: B+. I counted off for a couple of dropped passes and a very few protection issues. These guys ran hard and did what was asked for the most part.
Receivers: C. The receiving corps was plagued by an early flurry of dropped passes. What was disturbing to me, though, was that this group was held in check all day and managed just 2 catches for more than 20 yards, none over 30. Guys just weren’t able to get open against LSU’s secondary. One saving grace is that these guys blocked pretty well.
Quarterback: C-. It’s never good when a quarterback throws more interceptions than touchdown passes. Stidham made some good throws, but a number were off-target throws. He was not a factor in the running game with only 5 yards. Stidham had a bunch of successful home-run deep balls last season. We’re still waiting for the first one to connect against an FBS opponent this year.
It is back to work, for these disappointed Tigers. Auburn does have a couple of weeks to work out issues with Arkansas and Southern Mississippi coming to town to finish out September. Arkansas has lost its last 2 games in embarrassing fashion. The Razorbacks blew a big lead at Colorado State and lost 34–27. Arkansas led at one point, 24–7. At home this weekend, Arkansas was abused by North Texas, 44–17. Southern Miss has played only twice, blowing out Jacksonville State in the opener, 55–7, then losing at home to Louisiana Monroe, 21–20.