There’s been a ton made this week already about how much Auburn has struggled during the second half of games in its most recent losses. It’s actually uncanny, and it’s one of the things that I thought we did a pretty good job of during the two seasons that we went to the BCS Championship Game. Second half adjustments were key in many of those wins. Think about all the times we were down early in 2010 and came back with a huge second half to win. We had some of those in 2013 as well. Gus Malzahn was the only constant there, and so it seemed like he was good in the locker room at cooking up something to make sure we came out roaring for the third quarter.
Lately, that hasn’t been the case.
To be fair, some of those have everything to do with the fact that we were playing injured quarterbacks, or backup quarterbacks, or just weren’t plain good. The final three losses from last year all stem from one of those. This year, however? No excuse for scoring zero points in the second half in our two losses. Literally any pulse from the offense in those two games puts us at 7-0 right now.
Here’s the breakdown by quarter from StatTiger.
Second half woes in big games... pic.twitter.com/VA6haynxSl— StatTiger (@StatTiger) October 15, 2017
We can hit them in the first quarter but do absolutely nothing afterward. Awful.
Why is that? Well, in the first quarter against LSU we were able to keep them off balance, but then we became exceptionally predictable. It’s not an isolated event.
On 1st down, Auburn has run it 164 times in 7 gms (8th most in FBS). QB Jarrett Stidham is 38 of 49 for 12.75 yards per attempt on 1st down.— Matthew Stevens (@matthewcstevens) October 16, 2017
When Stidham throws to open a series, he’s been deadly efficient. And yet, we go away from it.
Since he doesn’t have the ability to make checks at the line, it’s all playcalling and it’s all on the coaches. You can’t sit on a lead anymore. You have to keep the pedal down constantly in this day and age.
Still, that hasn’t stopped Auburn from being a two-touchdown favorite over the Hogs this weekend on the road.
Auburn opens as a 13-point favorite at Arkansas next week, per @TwitVI.— Josh Vitale (@AUBlog) October 16, 2017
Relevant: Sounds like Auburn will be facing Cole Kelley at Arkansas on Saturday. 6-foot-7, 268-pound redshirt freshman. https://t.co/ksVu7p5VHp— Josh Vitale (@AUBlog) October 16, 2017
Night game against a team with nothing to lose. LSU treated us like their Super Bowl, and you can bet Bielema will be hyping up that same attitude this week.
We’ll have a couple of backups trying to make things happen in the back end of the defense as well, so there will be an opportunity for the Razorbacks to do some damage.
Tray Matthews' hamstring injury could put safeties Nick Ruffin & Daniel Thomas in line for bigger roles at Arkansas https://t.co/nVried8CO1— Josh Vitale (@AUBlog) October 16, 2017
Both Thomas and Ruffin made mistakes on big plays that would’ve likely preserved a win for Auburn. Ruffin misplayed the big gain on the jet sweep that led to LSU’s first touchdown, and Thomas dropped a key interception that would’ve ended another drive on which LSU scored. They’ll need to play better this week.
But, as we look ahead to basketball season, there’s good news in the offing. Austin Wiley, who was sidelined with a walking boot, is no longer hampered by it.
Update from Bruce Pearl on Austin Wiley, who will get out of the protective boot for good sooner than expected https://t.co/Fq4jNo89e3— Josh Vitale (@AUBlog) October 16, 2017
Good news for the Tigers and Bruce Pearl. War Eagle!