On the Monday after the 17-14 win over the Missouri Tigers, it felt more like a loss for Auburn. After building up a 14-0 lead with their first two possessions, the home team’s offense went into hiding until the overtime period.
The only time that Bryan Harsin’s offense went the length of the field was the opening possession but even that was a short field that started in plus territory. The defense forced Missouri to go three and out with a net of -10 yards. Auburn ran 14 plays, all runs on the box score. Some were called passes but quarterback Robby Ashford tucked the ball and got upfield, capping off the drive with an 11-yard touchdown run.
The opening drive even needed two fourth-down conversions to even get to that point. The team ran the ball more with Tank Bigsby after hearing about the offense abandoning the run all week. While they made a more concerted effort to get No. 4 the ball, he struggled. Bigsby averaged just 2.3 yards per carry. Even worse is that he averaged 3.3 yards after contact per carry. He had more yards after contact than he had the entire game.
If it wasn’t for a couple of gaffs from Missouri with a missed chipshot field goal in the fourth quarter and a fumble in overtime, Auburn is like 2-2. Moving forward they need to step it up a notch or two, especially with one of the toughest schedules in college football really getting ramped up this week. The run of Mercer, San Jose State, Penn State, and Missouri has nothing on the next four weeks.
Against LSU this week, the offense is going to need a huge improvement. The visiting Tigers have the No. 3 total defense in the SEC and the No. 8 scoring defense in the country (13.3 points per game). With so much emphasis on running the football, LSU is likely to load up the box. Auburn has yet to show they can hurt teams throwing the ball, as they haven’t scored on a passing touchdown to a wide receiver this season.
With pass rushers such as BJ Ojulari and Ali Gaye lining up against Auburn’s offensive line, the offense is going to need to have a quick strike attack. In four games, the LSU defense has tallied 65 total pressures on the quarterback. That breaks down to an average of 16.3 per game. This year Auburn has given up pressure on 33.8% of Ashford’s dropbacks and 42% of TJ Finley’s dropbacks. That number will likely increase against LSU.
On the defensive side of the ball for Auburn, they will be tested against LSU. Former Arizona State quarterback Jayden Daniels has proven to hurt teams with his legs and his arm. Looking back at the win over Mississippi State in Week 3, Daniels accounted for two touchdowns. He ran for 93 yards and threw for another 210 yards. Keeping him corralled is priority No. 1. We will dive more into the matchups between these two this week but you get the gist, Auburn’s work will be cut out for them this week.
If Harsin’s offense isn’t able to put together a better game plan and execution, we will be back to discussing just how long the leash is for the head coach. Especially with the Georgia Bulldogs (Week 5), Ole Miss Rebels (Week 6), and Arkansas Razorbacks (Week 8) coming up after Saturday’s showdown with LSU.
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