From the Eagle’s Nest
With two games remaining on the regular season schedule, the Tigers have only their pride to play for as injuries have piled up considerably and undermined Auburn’s attempts to gain a shocking SEC West title in 2016. The dream is over. We can all wake up now. The loss to Georgia last weekend highlighted two important factors regarding this team to me. The first is how important a healthy Sean White and Kamryn Pettway are to this offense. Having both of those guys limited or, in Pettway’s case, completely out of the game, genuinely killed any chance the Tigers had at scoring when they had the football.
The second major takeaway for me is the play-calling of this offense—or lack thereof. Obviously, having your two primary sources of offensive production injured is going to limit you on offense, but this coaching staff has to be better at adapting and dealing with setbacks such as this. It would not be fair for me to say that they should have scored at least 20 or 30 points against Georgia on the road, but when you consider the fact that this offense was so ineffective in the second half that it completely nullified the kicking game of Daniel Carlson, you start to understand just how poorly it moved the ball, especially in the second half.
I don’t know if Gus was still just “CEO-ing” for this game or not, but the bottom line is that this entire offensive coaching staff is being paid far too much money to put the kind of product on the field that they did this past Saturday. Auburn’s defense held the Georgia offense to just six points offensively. This should have been a bread-and-butter game for Auburn. The Tigers had their offensive savior Daniel Carlson ready and waiting to paper cut Georgia to death, but they could not move the ball well enough even to get into field-goal range.
Quite simply, Auburn fans deserve better. Losing the SEC’s most productive running back is a major blow, but it is not an excuse for losing all offensive identity and production. Auburn’s lack of production in Pettway’s absence makes its success with him healthy look more like a fluke than careful planning. As if the coaches genuinely never had much of a clue and were simply going with the “hot hand” at running-back.
The Tigers now find themselves in quite a precarious situation with a slew of injuries as they enter the home stretch of “Amen Corner.” Sean White and Kamryn Pettway will not be available to face Alabama A&M tomorrow along with Chandler Cox and Marcus Davis (who is confirmed to be lost for the remainder of the season). Jeremy Johnson has been named the starter at quarterback after it became obvious that this coaching staff does not trust John Franklin III to run the offense.
After a rough start that was all but erased from memory as the Tigers gained momentum and rattled off a handful of impressive victories, Auburn again finds itself in a tough spot. Looking ahead to the Iron Bowl would be a grave mistake to make this week. Gus Malzahn is back in troubled waters with an offense void of identity and surrounded by question marks.
The important thing now is to take care of business against Alabama A&M and hope that key players can return from injury in time to make a stand in Tuscaloosa next weekend.