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Tigers Cage the Catamounts! (with unit grades)

By on October 13th, 2013 in Football 15 Comments »

A fine time was had by all.

     War Eagle, everybody! It’s time now for the Acid Reign report, on Auburn’s 62-3 homecoming win over Western Carolina. It was a dominant performance in every aspect of the game for Auburn, as the offense rolled up a school record 712 yards of total offense, and never punted the football. Western Carolina did not cross midfield but twice. The Tigers managed the offensive feat despite being down three starters on offense, Patrick Miller, Brandon Fulse and quarterback Nick Marshall.

     True freshman quarterback Jeremy Johnson shined in his Auburn debut, throwing for four touchdown passes against only one interception. The Tigers averaged 11.9 yards per rush en route to rolling up 511 rushing yards. The team ground out 30 first downs on the day.

     On the defensive side, Auburn surrendered just 173 yards and 6 first downs. Over half of Western Carolina’s 66 rushing yards came on just two quarterback scrambles, a 19 yard early scramble by Troy Mitchell, and a late 17 yard run by backup Eddie Sullivan. Mitchell’s scramble set up a Western Carolina field goal in the first quarter. The Auburn defense sacked the quarterback 4 times, and contributed 7 tackles for loss.

     The Auburn special teams didn’t get much of a chance to be a factor, with no field goal attempts and no punts. Western Carolina avoided kicking to Auburn’s return men as much as possible. If there was anything to be concerned with in this game, is that Auburn let 4 of 9 punts hit the ground and roll. Both Quan Bray and Trovon Reed caught punts and went backwards.

Unit Grades after the jump!

Defensive Line: A. Auburn again used a lot of players here, and no one on the line had more than 2 tackles. However, the defensive line totaled 18 tackles, including 6 tackles for loss. Western Carolina was badly overmatched by these guys.

Linebackers: A. Auburn had the best game of the season as far as chasing the ball goes, and it was good to see guys in position to make stops. It was also very good to see Cassanova McKinzy back out there after a scary injury last week. I continue to be pleased with the efforts of reserves Anthony Swain and Kris Frost, who tied for the team lead in tackles with 3 each.

Secondary: A. The starters really didn’t give up much of anything past 5 yards, and the backups played pretty well, too. I figured Auburn would give up some late points, when the secondary started to be filled out by guys like Jonathan Ford, Khari Harding, Trent Fisher, and so on, but it didn’t happen.

Punting: N. A. Western Carolina never forced a punt. Auburn scored a touchdown on every possession, except for one interception and a late loss of downs after coach Malzhan had the team take a deliberate delay of game penalty to keep from scoring.

Punt Returns: C. The Tigers did not have any fumbles, and it should be noted that Western Carolina really tried to directional-kick away from Quan Bray. Still, one doesn’t like to see punts rolling for additional yardage, nor return men going backward after receiving the punt. The scariest thing was Quan Bray suddenly deciding to field a bouncing ball with enemy shirts all around. It caught the Catamounts off guard, and Bray picked up 16 yards on the play.

Kick Returns: B. Western Carolina avoided kicking to Auburn’s return men on both kickoffs, instead pooching the ball to the 20 yard line or so. Nosa Eguae recovered the first one, and ended up fumbling the ball out of bounds. Craig Sanders got the other one, and turned in a nice hard-nosed 15 yard return.

Place-kicking: A. Cody hit all of his extra point attempts, and hit 9 of 10 kickoffs for touchbacks. On the one non-touchback, Western Carolina’s Shaun Warren was stopped at the ten yard line. I deducted a few points for Ryan Smith dropping the last PAT snap, and the Tigers not converting that one.

Offensive Line: A. The Catamounts were badly outmatched in the trenches here, even when Auburn substituted in the whole second team line. Auburn runners were usually into the secondary before there was any contact on them. Points off on one holding penalty on new starting right tackle Avery Young.

Running Backs: A. Auburn backs showed speed, power, and vision all the way down the depth chart. I really enjoyed seeing Jay Prosch catch a TD pass in traffic, and liked seeing guys like Patrick Lymon and Chandler Shakespeare getting a chance to carry the rock late!

Receivers: A. I don’t think I saw a dropped ball this whole game, which is new for this team. I counted a few points off for a pass interception that Ricardo Louis should have been able to knock down. Otherwise, guys were running good routes, catching the ball, and contributing some pretty brutal blocking downfield.

Quarterback: A. I had no idea that a freshman quarterback could come in and hit 17 of 21 passes in his first start, especially with several receivers missing this game. Jeremy Johnson looked really good out there, with a nice touch on his passes. He’s not Nick Marshall fast, but is mobile enough to avoid pressure. It’s now evident why Johnson was being considered for the starting job back in August.

     The Tigers now must move on from this game, and get ready for a stern test against Texas A&M. Auburn guys were pretty wide-eyed and uncertain early at Baton Rouge, and Kyle Field in College Station is similarly intimidating. However, Ole Miss showed us last night that the Aggies are mortal, and can be beaten. The Ole Miss offensive and defensive lines that Auburn dominated a week ago held up pretty well against Aggie fronts.

     The greatest task ahead belongs to Ellis Johnson, who must figure some way to contain Johnny Manziel. Whether you love him or hate him, he’s still the most dynamic player in college football right now. Also, the Auburn offense must consistently score touchdowns in this one, against a suspect Aggie defense. The Aggies are giving up 32 points per game, and 435 yards.

     It was a happy homecoming at Auburn, and I think everyone left the game excited about Auburn football again. The Tigers have completed the first half of the season at 5-1, and I think that’s pretty good. The going will be a bit tougher going forward, but I think everyone left on the schedule is beatable, starting with Texas A&M. We are looking forward to it. War Eagle, and have a great day!



  1. Third Generation Tiger Third Generation Tiger says:

    I was impressed that the team maintained their focus.

  2. sullivan013 sullivan013 says:

    My absolute favorite player on the field was Chandler Shakespeare. That’s one heck of a story, and means the coaching staff values it’s senior leaders, whether they’ve ever played a down or not. It was obvious to everyone watching the game who was getting the ball on that series. Talk about a ‘Rudy’ moment. Good stuff.

  3. Tiger on the mountain Tiger on the mountain says:

    Watching the game in bits and pieces on ESPN3 last night, I had to smile. Even though we were playing Western Carolina, they were playing with purpose and looking sharp.

    I felt badly for Ole Miss last night. They played well, but JFF is pretty hard to contain. So yeah, I hope Ellis Johnson figures it out. And on offense, we need productive drives. It will be interesting to see what Saturday brings.

  4. domaucan1 domaucan1 says:



    IGTBAAT !!!

    WE !!!

    GBB !!!


    • Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

      …..I hate trying to fix laptops. Hopefully it’s just a loose connection, although you might have to take 20 screws out to find it. The keyboard can usually be replaced on most laptops. Best way to avoid laptop repairs is to buy Lenovo. They cost more, but they last.

    • wpleagle wpleagle says:

      If you have a regular 101 key keyboard with a USB cable, you can plug it into one of the laptop’s USB ports.

  5. War_Eagle_2010 War_Eagle_2010 says:

    I don’t know if AU will win the TAMU game, but after what ole miss did im feeling more confident than at any other point this season. If our offense can break even with theirs I bet our defense and special teams can win this one for us. Does anyone know Mike Evans health status?

  6. DBAU81 says:

    We’re in the top 10 nationally in rushing offense and aTm ranks near the bottom in rushing defense. Therein lies our best chance of winning this game – a ball control offense that chews up yards and the clock and keeps JFF on the sideline. Those drives have to end with points, because even though we’re significantly improved on defense the Aggies are likely to score plenty. Plus, we have to avoid the bad start we had at Baton Rouge. If we get down early to these guys it’ll be like trying to win the Daytona 500 after starting five laps behind.

  7. Todd92 Todd92 says:

    Hard to find negative things from this game… But at the same time it’s hard to get to pumped over it either. I can only assume JJ got the start because NM isn’t a guaranteed start for A&M… And while I believe JJ is the future at QB, it’s hard to quantify what his performance yesterday means. Western Carolina can make any program look like world beaters (Samford). I hope beyond hope that JJ is being prepared for some diabolical 2 QB system that CGM dreamed up while swilling 2 quarts of French roast…. If not may have some rocky games ahead with Marshall hurt and less than….

  8. sparkey sparkey says:

    It depends on the quarterback play to me. Whichever one of our guys it actually is, they cannot come in looking dazed and confused like Nick Marshall did at the beginning of the LSU game. His nerves are just too much of an issue for him sometimes. The start for him is hard because he starts hurling the ball at 100mph. He just needs to relax and slow it down some.

    As far as JJ goes, honestly I think if Auburn starts him this week we win and yes I know he’s a true freshman and everything. He has touch and gives the Auburn offense a viable threat to go deep. Marshall just doesn’t give us that chance. As good as Marshall is running the ball, he’s no better than Mason, CAP, or Grant. The only thing Auburn’s offense is really missing is an effective air attack.

    JJ can provide that to Auburn but having said this I pick Texas A&M to win by at least two touchdowns. They are a different team at home and we are a different team on the road and mobile quarterbacks give us the most trouble. Manziel is pretty mobile if you ask me.

  9. Squeakywheel says:

    Let them eat cake? This was a cup cake game that came along at the perfect time for the Auburn Tigers. Hopefully, they will be well rested for the trip to College Station. It was finally nice to see an Auburn team take care of business – in the Tubberville and Chizik days, even these kinds of games could be a struggle. In this one, they prepared, they executed, and they racked up stellar statistics. Well done. TAM will absolutely be a challenge, but at the beginning of the season I think we’d all put this one down as a guaranteed “L” along with LSU, Bama, and Ga. I felt we would have a chance against the other SEC teams on the schedule, but now I’m thinking we have a chance against TAM and Georgia. War Eagle!

  10. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..We’ve got to keep the hammer down on offense if we want to beat A&M. No field goals. No three ‘n’ outs. We need touchdowns. Jeremy Johnson had a heck of a game, but it was against an overmatched team. I’m not quite ready to say that he’s clearly a better passer than Nick Marshall. It was just one game. But most guys would be hard pressed to hit 17 of 21 in a skeleton drill with no defenders. We’ve all got to remember that Khiel Frazier hit 7 of 9 at A-Day a year and a half ago, and we thought he was going to have a big year passing. Nope.

    …..I agree about TAMU and UGA looking beatable. Both defenses are highly suspect. Georgia has just lost too many players to injury. No team can withstand those sorts of losses and not feel it on the scoreboard.

    • sparkey sparkey says:

      Come on now Acid, it’s easy to tell that Johnson is far better right now than Frazier ever was at quarterback. The deep pass he hit to Ricardo Louis is a pass that Frazier could never have made. He hit him perfect in stride. I haven’t seen that kind of touch or accuracy from either Frazier or Marshall to this point. I saw it the first day Johnson got the chance to throw one. That says a whole lot to me.

  11. wpleagle wpleagle says:

    I saw Bray’s punt return in the WSU game as him being observant – ball took a good bounce, none of the WSU defenders was paying close attention, so he grabbed and ran! Granted, he could have fumbled the bouncing ball, but I thought it was a good play.

    • wpleagle wpleagle says:

      Oops, my acronym should be WCU.
      Two other things I took away from the WCU game: CAP on the wildcat (and I’n not a wildcat fan) and the touch and poise that JJ showed. Granted, level of competition was low, but I liked what I saw.