Tigers Rout Mississippi State! (Grading Auburn’s 56–23 win over the Bulldogs)
Tigers were off and running and never looked back!
(AP Photo/Butch Dill.)
War Eagle everybody! It’s time now for the Acid Reign Report on Auburn’s SEC home opening 56–23 win over number Mississippi State. The Bulldogs took the opening kickoff and went backwards on the first 3 plays. After a short MSU punt, Auburn’s JaTarvious Whitlow was off to the races for an easy touchdown. With another quick touchdown drive, and a third after a muffed kickoff, Auburn was off to a 21–0 lead before anyone’s seat had even gotten warm.
This game was quite the coming out party for the Auburn offense, which pretty much did what it wanted. Bo Nix was red hot at quarterback, and for the first time since Cam Newton did it in the Georgia Dome 9 years ago, an Auburn quarterback had more than 300 yards passing and 50 rushing yards. More astoundingly, it took Nix just 21 pass attempts and 7 rushing attempts to reach those yards. That works out to 15.9 yards per pass and 8 yards per rush.
As to the receivers, the pair that stood out most to me were Seth Williams and Sal Cannella. Williams was obvious with 8 catches for 161 yards. One must note also that Cannella has been a big part of a successful Auburn offense the past 3 weeks due to dynamite blocking on the outside.
The starting Auburn defense basically held Mississippi to just 9 points, and squashed star Bulldog runner Kylin Hill. Hill played deep into the 4th quarter of the blowout and managed only 45 yards on 17 carries. Auburn gave up a couple of 2nd half touchdown drives, mostly with reserves in the game.
Auburn decisively won the special teams battle. Mississippi State managed only 16 return yards, suffered short kicks and punts, and even missed an extra point.
Unit grades after the jump!
Defensive Line: A-. I counted off a bit for some alignment issues that allowed Bulldog quarterback Garrett Shrader to buy time in the pocket and scramble for 89 yards on the day. Otherwise, the Auburn line was fierce and plugged holes.
Linebackers: A. Bulldog running backs had a bad day, and the linebacking corps were a big reason why. I felt like K.J. Britt and those guys really did a great job of attacking the ball carrier and preventing runs from going north and south.
Secondary: B. A solid tackling day for the Tigers, but there were too many passes that went for 20 or more yards. Several times, MSU managed to get a guy wide open behind Auburn’s safeties. Farrod Green was just about invisible to the Auburn secondary, and the Tigers were very fortunate that Green only caught 3 passes for 69 yards. He could have easily had 10 to 15 catches if he had been targeted more.
Punting: A-. Auburn only had 1 punt on the evening, and Arryn Siposs boomed that one 43 yards with no return.
Punt Returns: A-. Christian Tutt managed to return 3 of the 6 Bulldog punts and picked up 34 yards.
Kick Returns: A. Mississippi State did a good job of kicking away from Auburn return men, and Auburn was largely willing either to let the ball go for a touchback or fair catch the short ones. Noah Igbinoghene had 1 return for 21 yards.
Place Kicking: A. Anders Carlson was 8 for 8 on extra points and hit 8 touchbacks on 9 kickoffs.
Offensive Line: A-. Auburn’s starting line really manhandled the Bulldogs up front and allowed Auburn to run and pass at will for much of the game. Mississippi State had 2 sacks and 6 tackles for a loss, but a lot of those were in the late going with Auburn reserves in the game.
Running Backs: B. Auburn backs ran hard and did a good job of picking their way. I counted off for a couple of fumbles.
Receivers: A-. About the only quibble I have is on a Seth Williams fumble that might not have been. Replay was inconclusive, and the refs let it stand. This crew blocks well and makes plays when the ball is thrown to them. I don’t think I’ve seen a dropped ball in weeks.
Quarterback: A. About all I can count off for in this spot is one Nix fumble after a long run. Luckily, the ball rolled out of bounds. It all came together for Nix in this game as he basically shredded the Bulldog secondary. MSU did what it could to rattle Nix with crazy blitzes, and Nix picked those up and threw to the vacated spot just about every time.
Auburn served notice last week to the SEC West that the team is a contender for the division crown. That notice was amplified this week with a blowout of Mississippi State. We’ve known since the season opener that Auburn’s defense can keep it in any game. If the offense continues to perform at the level it displayed against Mississippi State, the sky is the limit.
Next week, Auburn gets a reality check when the Tigers visit Florida. The Gators are unbeaten through 5 games, just as Auburn is. The stadium in Gainesville is a hostile place to play, and it will once again be hot and muggy. The game will be on CBS at 2:30 Central Time and should be a good East vs. West showdown.