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Tigers Run Over Arkansas State! (includes unit grades)

By on September 8th, 2013 in Football 15 Comments »

Sammie Coates scores on the deep ball!

     War Eagle, everybody! It’s time now for the Acid Reign report, on Auburn’s 38-9 win over Arkansas State. On a weekend when most expected a close game, the Tigers produced a blow-out win over the Red Wolves. The Tigers made strides on both sides of the ball, but still have a way to go before they are ready to beat any top tier SEC schools.

     Brian Harsin’s Arkansas State squad came in sky-high for this game, and really tried to get after the Auburn Tigers. With a veteran offensive line and dangerous skill players, the Wolves tested Auburn’s suspect front seven right away. The Auburn defense gave up 422 yards to the Red Wolves’ offense, but acquitted itself pretty decently against ASU’s veteran, dangerous runners. Most of the Arkansas State yardage came either via the short passing game, or quarterback scrambles.

     Time and time again, Arkansas State quarterback Adam Kennedy escaped pressure, and made plays with his legs. He led Arkansas State runners with 74 net yards on the ground. Containing the quarterback in the pocket was easily the worst aspect of the defense in this game. I also felt like the tackling in the secondary wasn’t quite as good as the week before against Washington State. Several short passes turned into long gains and set the Red Wolves up deep in Auburn territory.

     I do have to tip my cap to Auburn’s red zone defense. Every time Arkansas State pushed inside scoring territory, the Auburn defense either forced a field goal or a turnover on downs. The Tigers have now gone 6 quarters without allowing a touchdown. Defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson played a fairly conservative, bend but don’t break strategy between the 20 yard lines, and turned up the heat dramatically in the red zone.

     The linebacking corps did better than the week before, and there was a great increase in the amount of pressure on the quarterback from the defensive line. While the Tigers only produced 2 sacks, there were an astounding 22 quarterback hurries recorded on the stat sheet by the Auburn front seven. On the opposite side of the ball, ASU had only 3 hurries and no sacks.

     The Auburn rushing attack was even more effective this week than last. There weren’t any 75 yard runs this week, but lots of 15-25 yard ones. Auburn faced a tough defensive front and a lot of defenders in the box, and still produced 301 rushing yards. The passing game improved also, with fewer dropped balls, bad routes, and missed passes. Quarterback Nick Marshall threw 2 fewer balls than last week, and produced 48 more yards. The offense is still far from being a finished product, but this thing works, folks! It eats up chunks of yardage, and I can’t wait to see what it does to Mississippi State’s defense next week.

     Special teams may have taken a step backwards this week. The Tigers allowed 4 kickoffs to be returned, and there were several short punts. The averages on these things look pretty good, but what was somewhat disturbing was the erratic nature of them. We’d get a great, long punt, followed by a shank. There were two kick returns of 25 yards, but those were offset by two really short ones. Still, Cody Parkey hit all of his place kicks, and Steven Clark still has not punted a returnable ball this season.

Unit Grades after the jump!


Defensive Line: B+. This was a veteran, strong, SEC-sized offensive line our guys played this week, and they largely did well. Auburn played 13 defensive linemen in this game, an unheard-of number in this day and age. My only real quibble is that they allowed the quarterback to escape contain too many times. The line contributed 27 tackles in this one, 8.5 tackles for loss, and 19 quarterback hurries. We’re seeing a lot of guys really step up, here. LaDarius Owens was the leader here. A starter last weekend, he came off the bench in this one and contributed 8 tackles.

Linebackers: C. Auburn played more guys here, and they made some plays this week. There were still bad angles, misfits, but I saw some aggressive tackling out of this unit, and tough tackles being made. The linebackers combined for 22 tackles. A big negative was the ejection for targeting of Kris Frost in the 2nd half. He did take an extra step and make that hit after the quarterback had already thrown the ball. Not only did Auburn give up 45 yards on that play, but Frost will have to miss the first half of the Mississippi State game, against some dangerous Bulldog runners.

Secondary: B. The Tigers did not tackle quite as well here as last week, but it was still a pretty good performance. The Tigers were not beaten deep, but the missed tackles produced some long gainers on short passes. Auburn played a lot of zone in this game, and the Red Wolves found ways to turn guys loose underneath, and they did not throw it at Robensen Therezie. Jonathan Mincy had problems catching guys on his side of the field, and finished with only 1 tackle and no other stats. Chris Davis and Ryan White made up for it, though, combining for 15 tackles and 3 pass breakups. Davis was also good at times on run support. He was in on a key 4th down stop of David Oku in the first quarter that kept Auburn’s 14-3 lead safe.

Punting: B+. Steven Clark had a bit of an off night, with a couple of short punts. One of those did hit and roll, and still went 50 yards. Arkansas State could not return any of those punts, and Clark did finish with a 41.5 yard average. In the end, I’m pretty happy with a 41 yard average with no returns. We’ll take that every game!

Punt Returns: B-. Auburn only had 2 opportunities, as the Arkansas State punters put 2 of their 4 punts into the end zone. Davis did wisely field one at the 10 yard line, and got only 2 yards. If he had let it go, it likely would have been killed deep.

Kick Returns: B. Auburn had 2 opportunities here, with Quan Bray taking the opening kickoff from the goal line to the 33, and later Tre Mason took a first quarter kickoff to the 25 from the 1. A holding penalty on C. J. Uzomah knocked 10 yards off that. Arkansas State decided to kick it into the end zone for touchbacks, after those returns.

Place-kicking: A. Cody Parkey hit all 5 extra points and his lone field goal attempt. On kickoffs, he hit 3 of 7 for touchbacks, which is a low percentage for Parkey. However, I think the strategy was to kick it near the goal line, and bottle up the returner deep, not any failure on Parkey’s part. This worked well a couple of times, and Auburn finished allowing only 17.8 yards per return. Anything here under 20 yards is good, and it’s of increased importance if the return man can be stopped short of the 25, where touchbacks are now placed.

Offensive Line: A-. I counted off mainly for holding penalties on Greg Robinson and Chade Slade, and a Slade false start. However, this line was again pretty dominant and sound. The Tigers were only tackled for a loss 5 times in the game, only 2 of those were by starting defensive linemen. Auburn allowed no sacks, and Nick Marshall had time to throw with good-looking pockets. A 300 yard rushing day tells the tale. That will win a lot of ball games, and a lot of credit goes to a great job by the line.

Running Backs: A. There was no single stand-out back in this game, but all three runners contributed well, ran hard, made their blocks, and had no turnovers. They combined for 241 yards on 40 caries and each scored a touchdown. I really enjoyed seeing H-Back Jay Prosch get his hands on the ball on a Jonathan Wallace 4th down dump off, and rumble for 20 yards and a big first down!

Receivers: B+. There was significant improvement this week, particularly route running and in the hands department. Officially, there were no drops credited to anyone on the stat sheet, but I thought an early deep ball to Sammie Coates should have probably been caught, although he was being hit just as the ball got there. I’m hoping that this game is the standard, and that guys basically had a bit of nerves last weekend. Again, there was good blocking downfield, helping Auburn peel off a number of 10-yard plus runs. That 68 yard touchdown bomb to Coates was a thing of beauty. It’s also good to get that on film, and into the heads of SEC safeties and defensive coordinators, who’ll have to think twice before they send the safety on Coates’ side up into the box.

Quarterback: B. Nick Marshall did lose a fumble, thus a letter grade off. However, he again threw no interceptions, and was pretty safe with the ball. I’m a bit concerned with a couple of misses on quick screens, but he made a lot more of those throws. Marshall hit 58 percent of his 17 passes, for 8.6 yards per pass. His counterpart on ASU’s side only managed 6.6. Marshall was also a weapon in the running game, finishing with 53 rushing yards at a 6.6 yard per carry clip. I liked Jonathan Wallace’s extended wildcat package, too. I think it’s important to let him throw it a time or two per game, which will help keep the defense honest.

     Before the season, I had figured Auburn would win this game by a comfortable margin, but the game wasn’t quite like I expected. I figured that with a new quarterback, ASU would struggle to move the ball. Instead, they ended up with a pretty well trained veteran transfer in Adam Kennedy. Auburn kept the Red Wolves out of the end zone, but the 422 yards allowed is concerning. It will be interesting to see what the defensive look will be against Mississippi State, who has a similar running game to Arkansas State’s.

     This Auburn team is showing progress. This time last season, Auburn was struggling in overtime to beat another Sun Belt team, Louisiana Monroe. This year, Auburn beat the Arkansas State Red Wolves pretty convincingly. I think this year’s team is on a completely different trajectory. A win is a win, and this team took care of business against the Red Wolves.

     I think everyone who wears Orange and Blue can’t wait to see this team get its hands on Dan Mullen’s Mississippi State Bulldogs. After the beating Auburn took in Starkville last year, I think some payback is in order. There are a number of matchup situations in this game that favor Auburn, and that will tilt even more in the Tigers’ favor if MSU quarterback Tyler Russell misses the game. Even if he is cleared to play this week, I doubt he’ll be allowed to take off running as much as the Arkansas State quarterback did.

War Eagle, folks! It’s great to be an Auburn Tiger, and 2-0 in September!


  1. Third Generation Tiger Third Generation Tiger says:

    The offense and the defense played better but still looked shaky at times. It looked to me that both units were purposely kept vanilla except maybe red zone defense. All in all I would say it was another step forward in the teams progress.

  2. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..I didn’t get to see much till lunch time today. Social obligations, and all that. I hated being absent on the open thread, but a big tip of the hat to Col. Angus (I can imagine he’d be an awesome color commentator!) and everyone else who chimed in. I’ll be back to my usual deal, next game. I’ve got tickets to FAU and Ole Miss, so I’ll be absent from the thread on those days, too. There’s usually 3 or 4 games I can’t do during the season.

    …..I watched the replay a second time on CSS this afternoon while sizzling some “smothered okra” in the kitchen. Man, Bob Rathbloom is easily my favorite college play-by-play guy these days. He tells a rich tale, the way he calls it. It’s always a treat to watch an Auburn game on FSN.

    ……Best takeaway is that I’m pretty sure Gus hasn’t uncorked but about a third of the “Playbook of Wild Tricks.” Saw a bit of that “diamond formation” mixed in there, when we were trying to pound the ball. Arkansas State had no more success stopping that thing than other teams around the country I’ve seen. The upside of this is that last week, I watched Oklahoma State absolutely BUTCHER Mississippi State’s defense, running left out of that formation.

    ……Speaking of Dan Mullen, I noticed his old defensive coordinator Manny Diaz got fired from Texas today, after the Longhorns got the “runned slap-over by a truck” treatment from BYU Saturday. To me, the Bulldogs looked like a team on the rise with Diaz running the defense a couple of years ago. Given how porous they’ve looked since, I would not be surprised if Diaz gets a call from Mullen…

  3. sparkey sparkey says:

    Why the hell is Slade still out there?!? Sit his rear end on the bench! We’ve got both Coleman and Young hell even Diamond. Those three are eons better than Slade. I just don’t get it. I don’t get why he’s starting. Yeah, Robinson had some holding calls with one of those being absolute garbage and the other one being questionable at best.

    I like the violence actually from the linebackers. While I don’t condone dirty play, I won’t lie when I kind of liked it because we’ve got aggression and heart now. Something we simply didn’t have all last season. I’m really happy about that but the penalty was dumb no doubt about it. They want us to be the Bad Guy so let’s show them what a bad guy is truly. We didn’t ask for that title they gave it to us.

    I figured we would trounce Arkansas State. We’ll beat Mississippi State in a heart attack game and we’ll lose to LSU by 21 or so and people will be on here thinking we’ve not really made any improvements at all which is garbage as well. We’re just hitting LSU at a bad time for us. It’s early yet and LSU matches up very well with Auburn. That said, I’m going ahead and picking Auburn over Georgia in a shocker. Yes, I know it’s early but Georgia doesn’t have any kind of defense.

  4. War Eagle Girl War Eagle Girl says:

    Yeah, and it was fun too! Don’t forget some of our coaches came from “that” school too… should be another chess match. Mullen is on the hot seat if you ask me so I expect them to be amped up. I was really proud of the guys and their determination on Saturday night. Much of that was missing last year and they seem to have found it. They are playing like a team instead of individuals.

    Onward and Upward! #GusDelorean #MarshallPlan #WarEagle

  5. Tiger on the mountain Tiger on the mountain says:

    I couldn’t get this game in tv or through the Internet. Thanks to Pops of ToTM and the Col. I was kept in the loop as much as I hoped that I would be. The thing that make me nervous is that if NM gets rattled (or what I perceive is rattled) he starts becoming wildly inaccurate in the passing game….however, not throwing a single interception, I’ll take it.

    I concede that these Tigers are not as good as the GusGoggles beguiled us to believe, but they are certainly not as bad as we might worry that they are. A cold look at the numbers as Acid presents them tells us that much.

    War Eagle and have a great week!

    • sparkey sparkey says:

      Not sure if you’re interested, but you can get on the aunetwork and for ten dollars you can listen to all of the games online each month I believe. You might want to look into that if you really want to hear the game. If it helps any, I only got to see the replay myself as my mom used the birthday card on me and she asked me for her birthday to take my little sister and her boyfriend to the wrestling matches last night.

      No, my little sister does not go watch wrestling. As you guys might’ve guessed I have a really crazy life and my sister and her boyfriend are actually professional wrestlers.

      To answer WEAtlanta, no I’m not in a wheelchair. I was during my childhood and the wheelchair policy at Auburn seemed to be topnotch back then but that was back in the 90s. Thanks be to God for the miracle of walking and years of rehab and surgery.

      I was not asking anybody to help me get to the games with that other post and after reading it I thought it sounded pretty pathetic. I’m not that kind of person at all and I’d rather go get the tickets with my own money and my own merit. All I was saying, when you get the opportunity to go watch the greatest school on this planet play the best damned sport on this world, then you go do it and you’re thankful you can do it!

      • Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

        …..Sparkey, you’re anything but pathetic. And you need to experience that stadium and vibe. Go do it, if you can. It’s amazing!

      • Tiger on the mountain Tiger on the mountain says:

        Oddly, I just cancelled my au network subscription. I never used it because we always got the game plan AND I thought that I found it streaming in various places through apps. Guess the powers shut off that access.

        Sparkey, when I think you, the word ‘pathetic’ never ever comes to mind.

  6. wpleagle wpleagle says:

    I am certainly no expert, but I am bewildered at the way the ASU QB constantly got loose at moved the chains on third down and other plays. Perhaps someone more knowledgeable can comment on why our defense seemingly couldn’t cover Adams on these runs.

    • Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

      …..Gus really didn’t blitz much this game. Linebackers covered gaps and tried to contain the run. We defended a team that threw 41 times with a four man rush, outside of about five or six blitzes. We also stunted a ton on the line. We got guys free to put intense pressure on the QB, but we didn’t have contain as a result, and we don’t have Ray Lewis out there to chase down a scrambler in the open field.

      …..I have a ton of respect for Arkansas State QB Adam Kennedy. He’s been a backup at Utah State, who is the team that probably should have beaten us in the 2011 opener. That was a well-coached, powerful team, and their coach Gary Anderson is now the head man at Wisconsin, replacing Bret Bielema. Kennedy was a huge add for the Red Wolves, and did a really good job in this game. Arkansas State will win some games this year, with him at the helm.

  7. Tigerstripe Tigerstripe says:

    I love our “running back by committee”…it keeps them fresh, hungry and healthy. I wish our defense was stronger against the run between the tackles – I’m guessing it’s a LB issue. Still waiting to see Uzomah utilized more. Excited about our DL and DE players. Hopefully we got all of the momentum killing penalties out of our system. Maybe we will see more chemistry and momentum on offense so Gus can open up the playbook more. Nick is continuing to develop and made more plays with his feet this week. Go Wash State! Will be glad to have my tail in the bleachers next week against MSU.

    • sparkey sparkey says:

      Yeah, I love it too. One thing about our coaches, I never go wtf about our play calling. It’s always top notch and what is the right call at the right time. Sometimes, our kids don’t execute but that’s not on the play calling that’s on our kids lacking the skill to get it done. I love a running back committee. Finally, they’ve stopped that crap about the one running back getting into a groove and the line knowing how the running back likes to run. It’s ridiculous. You run multiple backs when you have multiple backs with talent like Auburn does. I’m glad Lashlee sees the opportunities there and utilizes them. Don’t worry, Uzomah will be much more in the thick things than he is now. That’s a weapon Gus is keeping under wraps. He sets things up as well as anybody I’ve ever seen. Wait and see, you’re going to be happy with Uzomah by the end of the season.

  8. War_Eagle_2010 War_Eagle_2010 says:

    MSU worries me less than Ark St did. Itll be a big day passing as MSU loads the box to stop the run. People thought we would suck in 2009 but we didnt, this year is setting up much the same, its a new day! War Eagle!

  9. WoodrowAU95 says:

    I really like the effort these guys are putting out. It’s a welcome change from last year. I, like some of the above posters, hope we can get a little payback on the dawgs!!! Mullen is a tool.

    The season will probably have ups and downs, but I like where AU is headed. WDE!!!!

  10. Todd92 Todd92 says:

    Good breakdown again, Acid. If Ladarious Owens gets the MVP of the DL Angelo and Gabr were very close runners up. They spent plenty of time in ASU’s backfield disrupting their offense. Very encouraging. I thought the LB’s played much better and for what it’s worth the Frost suspension is bs… He didn’t lead with his helmet, launch, or hit him above the shoulders and as has been explained ad nauseum it is supposed to take one of those for the targeting rule to apply. A late hit should not include a suspension on its on.

    Marshall seemed more settled, although there is still a long way to go before he looks like he belongs back there. I also thought Wallace made a good showing of it and will be able to fill in adequately if needed (amazing what a solid OL can do).

    Speaking of the OL they are the best unit on the team by a long shot and out offense will be as good as any if the rest of the O will catch up to them. Shon Coleman looked very good substituting in late… He’s going to be a good one for us.