Hey, hey, hey, Auburn is 2-0, and has completely dominated the enormous task of overcoming Akron and Alabama State! In all seriousness, the Tigers were supposed to be 2-0, and I’d imagine there was roughly a 99.9999999% chance that Auburn would be sitting exactly where they are today after two games.
We expounded over the past week that we weren’t merely excited over beating Akron, but how Auburn beat Akron. Business, efficiency, assassin-like effort. It was great, and every part of the team gelled together to provide the needed production to win.
Fast forward to yesterday, and we were all feeling pretty good. I, personally, looked forward to another easy win and an unstressful day during a week that was destined to produce some heartburn and some upsets.
Now, Auburn struggled to start, settling for field goals on the first two possessions, and - GULP - actually punting at one point and fumbling on the next drive for a wildly different offensive start. There’s probably a reason for all of this mumbling around during the first half though:
Auburn Football players historically aren't allowed to play football until the clock strikes 12:00 noon.— Clint Richardson (@Clintau24) September 11, 2021
It's in the establishing documents from 1856.
OH. Draconian laws from the nineteenth century have always been the bane of Auburn.
Either way, things started looking up once we got to halftime, when Bryan Harsin calmly spoke to the SEC Network sideline reporter and told her all of the things that were going wrong. Then, I’m sure he went into the locker room and made some of the guys wet themselves. Maintenance will be getting that 8 AM call Monday morning to touch up some paint after the Tuberville Florida 2006-esque tirade that I’m sure happened.
You want to know the difference between the 2nd quarter and 3rd quarter?
Auburn ran 23 plays in the 2nd quarter, gained 60 total yards, scored one touchdown on offense, and got the blocked field goal return for a touchdown.
In the third quarter...
- Auburn ran 8 plays.
- Gained 299 yards.
- Scored 35 points.
- In only 3:20 of game time.
Auburn AVERAGED 37 yards per snap in that period. If there’s anything to take away from this, it’s adjustments in the locker room. More specifically, attitude adjustments. It was Auburn’s most fruitful quarter since four head coaches ago.
The last time Auburn scored 35 points in a quarter was against New Mexico State in 1993.— Jacob Hillman (@Jacob_Hillman3) September 11, 2021
We saw the emergence of Demetris Robertson as a favored target for Bo Nix, and a guy who’ll get his touches in multiple facets of the game. His end around for the touchdown looked super natural, and that’s got to be a usage combination that Auburn can sell to some recruits.
And maybe the thing that we had confirmed, since we already knew it in our hearts, is that Jarquez Hunter is very good. After his untouched 94-yard scoring run (which set an Auburn record for longest run), his numbers looked this way:
Is this good? ♂️#WarEagle | #AuburnMade pic.twitter.com/4BXIoDmve2— Auburn Football (@AuburnFootball) September 11, 2021
Yeah, that’s just the best back in the SEC he’s outpacing at the moment. I’ll take the assessment from a former SEC Player of the Year:
You mean to tell me we got 2 fire RBs??— Kerryon Johnson (@AyeyoKEJO) September 11, 2021
Right now, Hunter’s got 257 yards on just 17 total carries with two touchdowns (15.4 ypc), while Tank Bigsby has 24 carries for 241 yards and a pair of touchdowns as well (10.0 ypc). Shaun Shivers didn’t even play yesterday due to a quarantine, and he may not be available for Penn State, which would just push Hunter into the immediate backup role. He runs low, gets low, and has some absolute POP when he hits a defender.
Look, we beat Alabama State. What can you really learn from something like that? Let’s just assess the situation by way of the numbers:
there’s something to be said for doing what you’re supposed to do: Auburn has arguably had the easiest first two games in FBS— Justin Ferguson (@JFergusonAU) September 12, 2021
and Auburn is No. 1 in FBS in
- scoring offense (61.0)
- offensive yards/play (9.84)
- scoring defense (5.0, tied with UGA)
- defensive yards/play (3.03)
Hey, if you’re going to get these kinds of games, make use of them. Auburn could have farted around and run the same plays over and over again to try and just get out with a win, but they did it in style. They were focused, they were having fun... oh no...
Around the country, yesterday was the type of Saturday that saw almost everyone have some sort of trouble. The SEC wasn’t as great as it was opening weekend (even Bama started with two three-and-outs on offense against Mercer), but Tennessee lost, A&M almost lost to Colorado as big favorites, LSU looked like garbage against McNeese State, and South Carolina needed a walk-off field goal to beat ECU.
One team that got through their Week 2 rent-a-win and immediately started salivating for more was Penn State.
"WE WANT AUBURN" chants from the student section.— Derek Shuman (@DerekShuman_) September 11, 2021
I cannot wait for the White Outpic.twitter.com/1jMttrAGKI
The Tigers get to travel to Penn State for the first time for the first meeting since the two met on New Year’s Day 2003 in the Capital One Bowl. It’ll be a night game, with the Whiteout in effect at Beaver Stadium, and the first test for Bryan Harsin.
State College, we're coming! @AuburnFootball vs @PennStateFball on Saturday pic.twitter.com/odWgVdkDz9— College GameDay (@CollegeGameDay) September 12, 2021
Alright, finally, let’s take a look back at our Burning Questions from the Game Preview yesterday and see if we got any answers.
BURNING QUESTIONS ANSWERED:
- Does Bo Nix look as poised as he did last week? Short answer — No. It’s not easy to repeat an essentially perfect performance, but Bo wasn’t the entire reason it looked a little worse than the opening weekend. He went 9-17 for 108 yards and 2 touchdowns, with both going to Demetris Robertson, but he had two long throws to Shedrick Jackson near the goal line that resulted in pass interference penalties on Alabama State, and the receivers weren’t as crisp as they were last weekend either. He was the victim of some dropped passes. Still, he almost got picked off on the opening drive and there was the fumble as well for Auburn’s lone turnover of the season.
- Which new players get their first looks or stand out this week? We got to see T.J. Finley actually air it out a couple of times yesterday, with the highlight coming on his 49 yard looper to Malcolm Johnson, Jr. for a touchdown. He looked like he threw a better ball than Bo in terms of just how the football leaves his hand, but there’s much more to quarterback than that. Jordon Ingram got his first carries as well, and we even got to see the secondary have to defense some passes! They did fairly well, allowing just 130 yards on 19 completions, but Alabama State didn’t come in afraid of the Auburn defensive backs. They didn’t allow any yards after the catch to speak of, but the completions themselves were a little concerning. They’ll have to be on next Saturday with Sean Clifford on the other side.
- What do we learn about Auburn that we didn’t already know? We got to see how the Tigers respond to adversity. Now, there was never really a chance that Auburn was going to lose, and the biggest threat was probably how many stadiums the team has to run since they woofed around for thirty minutes. But, BUT, it’s the best we could hope for in terms of a challenge in the first two weeks. The team responded after the slow first half and the third quarter was as perfect as can be. Let’s just get more of that to start next weekend when we go into Happy Valley.