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Tigers Trample Tennessee! (with unit grades.)

By on November 10th, 2013 in Football 22 Comments »

Nick Marshall streaks for 214 on the ground!

     War Eagle, everybody! It’s time now for the Acid Reign report, on Auburn’s thrilling 55-23 victory over Tennessee in Knoxville. The Tigers threw only 7 passes in the game, as the aerial attack was not needed. The Tigers generated 444 rushing yards and 312 special teams yards, to overwhelm the Volunteers. The 55 points were the most Auburn has ever scored against Tennessee, and that was also the largest amount of points given up by the Vols in the history of Neyland Stadium.

     With true freshman quarterback Joshua Dobbs in the lineup, Tennessee elected to try to establish the run. The Vols had some success, as Rajion Neal and Marlin Lane combined for 182 yards on 32 carries and 1 touchdown. Things tended to bog down for the Volunteers in the red zone, however. Michael Palardy kicked 3 field goals, and Neal’s touchdown run was the only time the Volunteer offense would reach the end zone. The Tigers give up chunks of yardage between the 20s, but remain quite stingy in the red zone.

     Auburn has faced good offensive lines the past two weeks that have opened up running lanes, and that will continue against Georgia and Alabama. Neither the Bulldogs nor the Tide feature running quarterbacks, but there’s plenty of throwing talent, as Aaron Murray and A. J. McCarron are both deadly pure passers. Both teams like to run it, also. Todd Gurley and T. J. Yeldon are big backs with strength and speed, similar to what Auburn faced against LSU in Jeremy Hill.

     Auburn opened the Tennessee game with 3 straight passes and a three and out, but seldom went to the air after that. The Volunteers rolled a safety down on most plays, and tried to attack Auburn in the middle. This opened the edge up repeatedly. Nick Marshall and Corey Grant found the corner often, and Auburn stormed to one quick touchdown after another. When Tennessee did get numbers to the edge, Marshall had success running the inverted veer up the gut, or Tre Mason would chew off a hunk of yardage. Mason finished with 117 yards on 20 carries.

     A look at the cumulative Auburn season rushing statistics is startling. The Tigers have 4 different players that have rushed for more than 500 yards this season. Mason has 1038 (which puts him over 100 per game on the average), Nick Marshall has 734 (despite missing one game and most of another), Cameron Artis-Payne has 568, and Corey Grant has 504. Even Auburn’s wishbone days back in the early 1980s did not produce numbers like that!

     After a couple of shaky special teams games, the Tigers exploded against Tennessee in the return game. Chris Davis returned a punt 85 yards for a score, and Corey Grant returned the second half kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown. In addition, there were other big returns, including a 42 yard punt return by Davis, a 35 yard kick return by Quan Bray, and a 34 yard kick return by Tre Mason. Auburn’s two punts netted 47 yards each, with no return. Cody Parkey collected 5 more touchbacks, and the Auburn kick coverage unit did not allow the Vols to make the 25 yard line. The only sour note was a blocked extra point.

Unit Grades after the jump!

Defensive Line: B-. I’m grading on a curve here a bit, because Tennessee had the best offensive line across the board that Auburn has faced this year. There were some holes here, but by and large Auburn linemen had their assignments down, and filled their gaps. There wasn’t anyone who stood out, but as usual, Auburn played a lot of linemen, and the unit combined for 18 tackles, including 3.5 for a loss. As the game wore on, Tennessee had less and less success on offense, and that was largely because of Auburn’s deep, relentless line play.

Linebackers: C. Cassanova McKinzy had a pretty good day, with a season-high 10 total tackles. No other linebacker had more than 3 tackles, and there were gap control issues in abundance. Robensen Therezie had to play up in the box a good bit in this game, and he was excellent when the Vols tried to run to the sideline, and not as good when they ran right at him.

Secondary: B+. There were some catches allowed, but Auburn by and large tackled pretty well in the secondary, and prevented the big play most of the game. Coverage could have been better, and there was not a single pass breakup credited. I’m not sure about that statistic, as I seem to clearly remember Chris Davis knocking a deep ball away from Marquez North just before the half. Still, when you look at the defensive statistics, and 7 of your top 8 tacklers are in the secondary, they’ve gotten the job done on defense.

Punting: A. I could count off on one low liner for only 37 yards, but UT had to fair catch it. Steven Clark’s other punt was a 57 yard howitzer that was killed at the Vol 13 yard line. Clark out-dueled his Tennessee counterpart on the Ray Guy watch list. Michael Palardy spent much of his day trying to chase down Auburn return men.

Punt Returns: A+. Watching Chris Davis is harrowing. He’s dropped several on the ground this year, but he seems to always get them back, and you know something exciting is about to happen. Davis had two big returns against the Vols, including the third longest punt return touchdown in Auburn history. Davis was relieved at one point by Quan Bray, who made a wise fair catch in traffic.

Kick Returns: A. Some might count off for Tre Mason’s 2 yard return in the first quarter, but he really didn’t have any chance on that one. Palardy hooked a perfect sand-wedge shot to the sideline, where it stopped on a dime. Mason might could have let that roll out of bounds, but it also could have stayed in and been fallen on by orange shirts. Mason did the right thing by collecting that ball. Every other kickoff return went a long way. Corey Grant’s slashing, accelerating touchdown was an amazing thing to watch.

Place-kicking: A. I had to count off a little for the first blocked PAT attempt of the year. I think big 351 pound Daniel McCullars surprised the special teams unit a bit with his agility, but they adjusted after that block. Kick coverage improved this week, as Tennessee was held to 18.5 yards per return. Cody Parkey hit all of his PAT attempts that weren’t blocked, and he had 5 touchbacks on 9 kickoffs, in a swirling breeze.

Offensive Line: A+. It’s hard to argue with 444 rushing yards, no penalties, and no sacks given up against an SEC opponent. There was one sack of Nick Marshall, but it was on a corner blitz, and was not the line’s responsibility to pick up. These guys were brutal up front. I was worried that McCullars would cause trouble, but Reese Dismukes won that battle decisively, and Auburn did not have to double the big tackle.

Running Backs: A-. Points off for the lost Tre Mason fumble, but this was really another great game by this group. Tennessee really tried to key on Mason, and that opened the door for Marshall and Grant. Jay Prosch and Gage Batten were a devastating force run-blocking.

Receivers: A. Had one flat-out dropped pass that would have been a first down by Tony Stevens, but these guys played lights-out other than that. To a man they are wiping out defenders, allowing Auburn to just cruise up the sideline rushing the ball. C. J. Uzomah had a big league touchdown catch, and blocked really well, too.

Quarterback: A. I counted off a letter grade for Marshall’s pick six he carelessly tossed, but had to give it back on bonus points. Marshall showed not only great speed, but tremendous ability to shed tackles in this game. I still hear folks saying that he’s not an SEC quarterback, but I think he’s shown that he’s a winner. After last season, we Tiger fans know what that “deer in the headlights” appearance looks like on defense. Marshall had Tennessee’s secondary in that fix for much of the game.

     The Tigers return triumphantly home for the rest of the regular season, after having won in Fayetteville and Knoxville by big margins. Some might fret about a few defensive warts, but how many years in the past have Tiger fans seen Auburn win big in those two venues, much less back-to-back? I hope everyone is enjoying this season as much as I am!

     Next up are the Georgia Bulldogs at Jordan Hare Stadium. They have one of the more prolific passers in the SEC, and a rushing game that gets a shot in the arm with the return of Todd Gurley. Gurley is a big back with speed and moves, going over 230 pounds. Auburn has no way to simulate that in practice. Georgia also has some dangerous receivers in Chris Conley, Michael Bennett and big tight end Arthur Lynch. Ellis Johnson will have to work overtime figuring out how to slow this bunch down.

     The Bulldogs are still playing for the SEC East title, although they need Missouri to drop its last two games against Ole Miss and Texas A&M. The Bulldogs own the tie-breaker against South Carolina, if they win out against Auburn and Kentucky. Auburn controls its own destiny, as long as the Tigers keep winning. A loss to the Bulldogs realistically hands the title to Bama, regardless of what happens in the Iron Bowl.

     It’s a great time to be an Auburn Tiger, sitting at 9-1, just a year removed from the worst Auburn season in the televised era. We’ll be cheering these fine Tigers on, win, lose or draw, these last two games! War Eagle!


  1. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..CBS has just announced that they are picking up next week’s tilt against Georgia, at 2:30 PM Central Time. They should, after all, it’s essentially an SEC playoff game.

  2. AuburnMisfit AuburnMisfit says:

    I was getting irked early on in the game by the defenses’ poor tackling. It was obvious that there were attempts being made to hit to strip the ball out rather than wrapping up and completing the take down. In that respect, the Auburn defense was keeping Tennessee in the game, at least early on. Was there really a need strip the ball? It just seems that our defense would improve greatly in terms of limiting opponent’s yardage just by making the adjustment away from attempting to strip the ball.

  3. Col.Angus Col.Angus says:

    Was I disappointed with the tackling early on? Yes, but I am learning to accept that the the 4-2-5 just leaves way too much of the middle open to expect them to shut down offenses in the expanse of field between the 20’s. I coach youth football and am always preaching to my kids about funneling the ball to the middle of the field, toward more defenders. That is what this defense does, They either stop the play cold at the line of scrimmage or give up 6+ yards.

    On the whole can you really complain when you give up one offensive touchdown against an SEC opponent on their home field? Not really, so I won’t. Joshua Dobbs, did a fairly decent job considering the situation he was in and once they got behind a couple of scores the rout was on.

    What can you say about the offense other than WOW. Simply dominant, and I REALLY thought that UT was going to give us trouble. I was still underestimating our lines ability……no more.

    Folks need to quit worrying about Gus leaving and make sure we keep coach Grimes happy. What he has done is borderline miraculous. Last year at this time, our O-line, and ALL our blocking, was pathetic. They were slow, they were weak, they were undisciplined and they were overmatched in every SEC contest. We couldn’t do anything on offense because we couldn’t open holes to run through and we couldn’t give our QB’s time to throw. One year later, its almost exactly the opposite and the lines ability to impose its will on the defense permeates throughout the rest of the offense. This team now blocks just as well, and is just as disciplined as the 2010 team, which was arguably the greatest Auburn ever had. Simply miraculous. And they are young folks. This group will be largely intact for another 2 years.

    Regardless of what happens in the next two games, the next two years at least should be more of the same.


  4. Tiger on the mountain Tiger on the mountain says:

    This game was a lot of fun! Yes, I was stressed in the 1st quarter…the game was a bit closer than I would have liked to see and the tackling…woe to the tackling. Maybe it was my oldest son (almost 4) yelling ‘Auburn….Tigers…Auburn….Tigers…can I get a WAAAAAAAAARRRR EAGLE! Hey!. Or maybe it was that I sat down and calmed down for a minute and I saw we’re-out-here-havin-fun-with-our-very-own-can-of-whoop-ass brand of Auburn Football! Maybe it was both!!

    The interception was initially troubling…then, not a minute later, I was all ‘meh’. It wasn’t going to drag out QB down, why should it drag me down?

    With Bama’s decisive victory over LSU (anyone seen Jonno lately-’cause this was not the season that he had envisioned for either team….), the talk will inevitably turn to the Iron Bowl. In case anyone needs a reminder of whose coming to JH next Saturday…..I have two numbers for you: 7-83. 7-83. That’s the combined score of the last two Georgia games. 7-83. Bring on the hate. Bring on the heat. I don’t want to hear a damn thing about Bama. We’ve got some Dawgs coming over for supper. And I really don’t care if the revenge that we serve is hot or cold-as long as it is on the menu!!

    War Eagle!!!!

    • Col.Angus Col.Angus says:

      Bring your dog hate early, because they sure are hating on us.

      For those of you who think this one is in the bag, I only remind you of 2006 when we were 9-1 and ranked #5 with a tattered UGA team coming to town with a freshman QB named Matt Stafford at the helm. Oh how we thought we would crush the dastardly dawgs. Unfortunately for us the only crushing was done by UGA, and that game has ushered in an era of Dawg dominance that I have not witnessed in my lifetime.

      Its time for things to change…..and I hope Gus throws the kitchen sink at them. They deserve to ingest a pool sized portion of humble pie until they are puking it out of their nose. I want Murray…put down. I want Gurley….put down. I want Richt to be livid at the end of the game, that we ran up the score with Artis Payne and Jonthan Wallace, running the offense.

      Quite simply, I want them to FEAR us again.

      • Tiger on the mountain Tiger on the mountain says:

        ^^^^^THIS x 1,000,000^^^^^^^

      • wde1988 wde1988 says:

        Oooh. I was at this game I think. This had Brandon Cox? Oh yes.

        Ticket Price: $100. For 50 yard line tickets.

        Parking with in two minutes brisk walk of the stadium $50. Not to mention I had my favorite Orange AU sweatshirt on…

        Oh yeah, if I remember right the game started out with a light rain. And UGA beat the hell out of us.

        The people in front of us provided comedy relief…. screaming “quit cheatin’ Georgia!” the entire game.

        That two minute walk was the longest walk from Jordan Hare I think I can remember.

        But the drive back to Montgomery got better… while we were stuck in traffic… on the way out of town… some UGA fans had their RV parked on the side of the road… a dude had a loud speaker… wearing knee high boots (RED), spandex wrestlers speedos, with a cape and mask… dancing on a picnic table next to the road… telling us how we were kin… but they had to enjoy this game!

        I don’t think I laughed as hard as that in a while!!! While I agree with the Col… this game by far is my favorite rivalry game and I hope we beat hell out of them… I still have a good time with Georgia folks…


        • Col.Angus Col.Angus says:

          Yes, that was the Brandon Cox’s bum shoulder game. Where Tubbs threw him to the wolves and let him throw 4 ints in 12 attempts for only 35 yards… we didn’t run for 400 yards either.
          God what a memory.

          I was probably a couple of aisles down from you, next to the UGA section and they were unbelievably obnoxious because they knew they were ruining our season.
          I came to the game and bought two tickets from another alum whose wife and son didn’t want to come to the game because it was supposed to rain…and it did. It wasn’t bad but I wasn’t wearing any gear so my wife and I got soaked. Before the game I bought a “BEAT THE DAWGS! shirt that has been nothing but bad luck. I am going to burn it, on the 7th anniversary of game, to kill the curse it has put on me.

      • Third Generation Tiger Third Generation Tiger says:

        Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor! No way! Murray…DEAD! Gurley…DEAD! Richt…Dead! Neideremeyer…Dead!

        • Third Generation Tiger Third Generation Tiger says:

          Note to Self:

          Waste of a perfectly good Animal House reference.

          • Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

            …..There’s probably at least two generations out there reading this that have never seen Animal House. My friends and I used to debate which was the more stupid/excellent school movie, Animal House or Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

            …..I thought the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer was beating both movies, till they started trying to get all serious and stuff, and we had a whole season of Buffy’s mom dead on the living room couch.

          • Third Generation Tiger Third Generation Tiger says:

            Those that haven’t are missing a classic. At least I think so. Spiccoli was hilarious. Ordering a pizza and having it delivered to the classroom was awesome.

            Not a shcool movie, but Caddy Shack still cracks me up.

  5. Todd92 Todd92 says:

    Good job, as always, Acid… We have been very vanilla on offense the last couple of games and we continue to put up gaudy stats. I like it. The best thing is the next two teams can gameplan all they want and Malzahn will still be able to show things they haven’t seen yet. Beat the hell out of the stinking curs.

  6. wde1988 wde1988 says:

    Our defense is suspect. And I think the grades the defensive front got was a bit high. Further, I thought our linebackers were actually playing whiffle ball as many times as they missed tackles.

    Still, we were able to keep them out of the end zone two of three times they marched down the field.

    Also… we had two turn overs. Both I think turned into points. I think the grades should reflect lower accordingly.

    Anyway… I am glad AU got the engine started and just got out of the way as the juggernaught started rolling.


  7. mikeautiger says:

    We fell back into some bad habits vs Ak and TN in the DB field. They have almost totally stopped looking back for balls mainly because they are getting beat trying to watch for the run. If they do. It get that fixed it would be a long day with Murray passing over our heads because we do. To look back. On the other hand if we do look back we could have turn overs and break ups.

    Hopping for the best with Ellis. War Eagle?

    Question, anyone know what the orange covered box was that the AU players kept getting into on Saturday, never seen anything like it.

  8. mikeautiger says:

    Also after our second extra point sat, what was it the ref was talking to our holder and coach about after the play. I was distracted by some TN fans after point and did. It. It ice anything happening.

  9. Malakai Malakai says:

    Let’s not let the win at UT go too much to our heads. It was great to win there and a win is a win, especially after last season, but all of us have higher expectations now..we may just not want to admit it. We have “AUBURN” expectations again. That is the expectation to go out and compete hard every down, and if not win then look like we put forth an excellent effort trying to. Our defense has looked BAD the past two games. We were playing Arky and TN ffs. Sure it was away but that’s no excuse. We can tell ourselves that we don’t pass the ball because we don’t have to, but deep down you know that is not true. We all know Marshall’s strength is -not- passing the ball and the offense have taken what the defense has given them to win the game any way we can. So instead of getting in some good reps passing the ball with our receiving corps and 1st year QB against inferior opponents, we just run the same 4 plays over and over and over again. Does anyone really believe we will win playing this way against a legitimate team? Auburn -has- to be more balanced on offense. I don’t care how many times you throw the ball in practice it’s not the same as in a game. And Auburn must have some sort of passing attack to beat UGA and UAT.

    I hope Johnson can correct some of those tackling issues…damn it was giving me 2012 nightmares in the first quarter. And Lashlee/Malzahn need to take a more balanced approach to scheming up the offense from here on out. UGA and UAT can both run the ball…on anyone, especially suspect defenses like AU’s. UAT can stop the run..on anyone. Marshall and the receivers better spend some extra time playing catch these last few weeks of practice if AU is planning on winning their remaining two games.

  10. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..I counted off less for bad plays this game, because invariably whoever messed up came right back in and righted the wrong on the scoreboard. Folks, we just boxed Tennessee’s ears at home by more than 4 touchdowns, and ran the clock out on their five yard line. Enjoy it! Doesn’t happen often…

  11. Tiger on the mountain Tiger on the mountain says:

    I just went over to Dawg Sports…don’t know why really, but I learned a few things:

    1. Some things never change. Like the sun coming up and the incessant unrelenting whine emitted by Georgia fans.
    2. They’re still not over 2010 and how dirty Nick is. Yada yada. Or 1986 and water equipment malfunctions….oops.
    3. T. Kyle King is no longer manager. He’s still active on the sight….very active…..
    4. The struggle against Appy St in the first half was real.
    5. Gurley is not 100%
    6. The Georgia offensive line may be suspect.
    7. They believe in their heart of hearts that Auburn can’t pass. While I agree that passing is not our bomb diggity, it’s also serviceable when needed.

    Regardless, the Tigers better practice their butts off and watch lots of tape. Saturday will be hard. We NEED this win and we need to put the Dawgs on notice.

  12. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..T Kyle’s actually a good man. Even if he hates Auburn. His posts entertained, and I think the SEC sports internet misses his input.

    …..Georgia is bringing Gurley back in cautious increments. Pardon me for being paranoid, but I remember well certain injured, crippled opponents like Kerwin Bell and Bret Farve that ruined Auburn dreams. Tigers better be ready for Gurley.

    • Tiger on the mountain Tiger on the mountain says:

      I actually agree. Part of what makes T. Kyle so annoying is how intelligent he is. He’s still commenting a lot over there and is listed as an ‘author’. But I didn’t see any King-posts. Honestly, the SBNation makeover is just sad.

  13. sparkey sparkey says:

    Well, I guess we just not that great. We can’t throw the ball, our backs don’t turn around, and we don’t wrap up anymore when we tackle. We give up too many yards between the 20s. It sure does suck being 9-1 after a 3-9 season. I mean hell, we only put more points on Tennessee at Neyland Stadium than any other team in the place’s history. It sure does suck having 444 rushing yards in one game.

    Damn, don’t you hate it when that happens. We should never just think that going 9-3 season at worst is a good thing and that Gus has the program in the right direction. Nope, we must worry about those things that aren’t perfect when we still won 55-23 with ease. Hell, we must just win next Saturday if we play the best game we have all season but things don’t look too good so far I guess.