Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Auburn Realist: The Arkansas State Review

Well, it's not Monday. I would have had this out yesterday but I caught an awesome stomach bug that kept me in bed all day. The good news is, I got a jump start on losing that weight for flag football. I lost 6 pounds in 24 hours. Take that, fat rolls! 

Anyway, we are more or less half way through the week to the SEC opener for the Tigers who are fresh off a (convincing ?) win against Arkansas State. 

If you read my preview, what did you think? 

If you didn't, check it out here: The Arkansas State Preview

I made the mistake of going off at dinner Friday night with my dad and grandad about how ASU would scare Auburn. In fact, I went so far as to say that I was too scared to put down on here my TRUE feelings, that ASU was going to upset Auburn. They scoffed until ESPN put Auburn on "upset alert" 5 minutes later. Of course, that didn't stop the texts from rolling in about halftime asking me what I thought about it NOW. 

Let's examine the most important thing first. The score. 

So, I expected a score of 38-31 in favor of the Tigers. While I wasn't close, I at least got one of those numbers right....and it was the most important one. Auburn scored 38 points to secure the victory. Despite giving up 422 yards total , which SHOULD have indicated a closer score, what I didn't see was the Auburn defense shutting down the ASU offense in the red zone. That was REALLY impressive.

On the preview of the score breakdown for Auburn, I said that Grant would get a TD and 125 yards rushing, CAP would get a TD and 100 yards rushing on 20 attempts, Marshall would run for 2 and would connect with a deep ball, boosting his yardage to 150 yards of passing.

Danger close, all things considered. Let's see why I say that. 

  1. Grant did rush for a TD, but his yardage was held to 40 yards on 7 carries. Not dead on, but pretty close. He didn't have a long run, which is really the only difference between my guess and actuality.
  2. CAP rushed 19 times for 102 yards and a TD.  Dead on. 
  3. Marshall didn't run for 2 TDs, though he did pick up over 50 yards of rushing. I was skeptical of his passing after the WSU game and while I DID expect him to connect on a deep throw at some point, I didn't see it being a perfect 63 yard strike for a TD. While it was the only one, it was gorgeous. He threw for 147 yards, 3 short of my guess. So, off on the TD throws, right on for the rest. 
  4. Tre Mason quietly had a 100 yard game, averaging 7.4 YPC and a TD. He was used little down the stretch, I assume to keep him fresh for this weeks showdown. It's worth noting that his carries remained the same, while CAP's doubled. 
Defensively, I couldn't be more surprised...or more wrong, it would appear. McKissic never had a chance out of the slot, collecting only 2 catches, though they did go for 45 yards. He did have 1 carry for 12 yards. Oku found himself in the same situation, rushing for 48 yards on 16 carries, though he puled up 70 yards in receiving. Not impressive, all things considered, but they led their teams effort. Kennedy did show that he is indeed a player, piling up an impressive amount of stats himself. 

I guess the problem with being a prognosticator in such a sophisticated game is that you never know how teams prepare for one another. Either Auburn prepared for McKissic and Oku just right, or Harsin and Co knew to throw the ball around and open up running lanes for Kennedy. Fact is, Kennedy threw for 272 yards...which ain't shabby, while hitting 10 different receivers. Kennedy showed an explosiveness not expected when he escaped the pocket and ran for a team high 74 yards. Of course, none of it matters when you don't record a TD. In the end, that was the game breaker. Auburn allowed no long passes (that mattered). Other than McKissic's 40 yarder and an Oku 30 yard checkdown pass, the Auburn secondary proved they can play. 

While I was wrong on the score and on the playmakers ability to get free, I will attempt to bail myself out by pointing out that there were still only 2 sacks. And, the only big plays of the day were given up by the MLB, who was embarrassed while trying to make open field tackles on scrambles. It's one thing to just lose hold of a runner. It's another to get shook-en out of your shoes.  Like I had said, Therezie made the start over Garret again. And he played terrific. He was all over the field. I just can't see how the kid will find the bench if he keeps up this level of play. 

While the defense did give up some serious yards, the bottom line speaks loud. As does two stuffed 4th down attempts. Will it be enough against SEC offenses, specifically the SEC offensive lines? That remains to be seen. The interior D-line continues to worry me with their inability to collapse the pocket, as does the MLB play in almost all phases. The scariest thing, to me, was the inability of the D-Ends to keep Kennedy from escaping the pocket. 

The offense sputtered at times, but it was better than last week. Obviously hooking up on deep throws helps. But, again, it was only one of several attempts. And some of those attempts missed badly. 

I didn't talk much about special teams, though I felt they played well. The impressive returns keep piling up. 

How do I grade myself? Well, the score was pretty far off, though I did call Auburn's final score. I think I was pretty close on the offensive stats. While my playmakers for ASU were the highlights of their side of the ball, they were held largely in check. Defensively, the worries I expressed were still very evident. 

I'd have to give myself a solid  B- for this week. What do you think?