Despite having impressive stats, No. 15 Auburn football fell to South Carolina after making a number of costly mistakes.
The 30-22 loss was the first loss the Tigers have suffered for the Gamecocks since the 1930s. Defensive penalties, wiretaps and big drops all played a role in the defeat. The Tigers fall to 2-2, while the Gamecocks increase to 2-2.
Both Auburn’s losses this season are on the way and the next game is also a road game. The Tigers will have to put the loss behind them and build the positive. But before we turn our attention to Ole Miss, here̵
If it weren’t for three interceptions, Bo Nix would have had a great game. However, these three interceptions were critical in Auburn’s loss. They led to 21 points and Auburn lost by just eight. Nix continued to compete and finished the game with 272 passing yards and 69 rushing yards. His completion rate was only 51 percent, but that doesn’t take into account his recipient’s drops or the times he had to throw it away. There are things he can build on, but it was another poor road performance.
Running back: C
True novice Tank Bigsby had his second 100-yard rushing game in a row. Bigsby finished with 111 yards on 16 carries, averaging 6.9 yards per carry. He jumped off the defenders and snuck his way through piles of bodies and jumped out on the other side to pick up more yards further. DJ Williams also rushed to 17 yards and got two catches to 26 yards. There are still improvements in the driving game as the offensive line searches for consistency and the ongoing rumors are included more in the game plan.
Tight ends: C
Luke Deal made his first career reception and added to the list of tight ends that have taken part in the passing game. Aside from that and JJ Pegue’s appearance on the failed two-point conversion, the narrow ends were much less visible than in previous games. John Samuel Shenker continued to hit the field as a block, where he helped open a couple of passing lanes, but they were otherwise quiet.
Wide recipients: D
The wide receivers played a role in helping Nix assemble 272 passing yards, but they also made some big drops that lowered his completion rate and stopped drives. The wide receiver Eli Stove said that there were only some communication problems and small details they need to fix. Komfur played well for his first game back since being injured against Georgia, but Seth Williams was held to four catches on 12 goals. Williams also tipped the ball that was intercepted. Anthony Schwartz had six catches in 59 yards as well as a few drops.
Offensive line: D
To open the second half, the offensive line was called for a false start. Linemen also had several other sanctions that hurt the offense. They helped give Nix more time in his pocket than previous games, though it began to collapse as the game continued. Nix was fired three times in this game and he had to make a number of games on the run. Although the players were back from injury, it did not appear that the top five have been settled yet.
Defense line: C
The defensive line put more pressure on the quarterback and got his hands on Colin Hill’s face, but it was unable to get arms around the quarterback and ended up with zero sacks. Pass rush is critical, and it’s something Auburn has tried to focus on, but it has not led to many results yet. The line improved its driving defense, especially in the first half. That kept the Gamecocks at 41 yards on 19 rushing attempts. South Carolina was able to find some holes in the second half and finished with 153 yards.
Again, Zakoby McClain and Owen Pappoe led the team in tackles and finished with 13 and 10 tackles respectively. McClain also made the team’s only sack, while Pappoe made the only interception. McClain and Pappoe helped stop the running backs who found holes, and they also made a few stops on passes. They seem to be trying to keep the defense together from the middle.
The sanctions were really what hurt the defense in the second half, Pappoe said. Two of the major sanctions were on cornerbacks. Roger McCreary was called on to replace Defensive Pass twice, moving the Gamecocks up the field. Several of South Carolina’s big catches were made just above the heads of the corner heads. Granted, the ones made by Shi Smith were just amazing plays. In all, the secondary held South Carolina to only 144 receiving yards. It also improves when the pass rush is established. But the sanctions were critical to the loss.
To add to the corner kick penalty, Smoke Monday added a face mask and a defensive interruption in the second half. Both penalties helped the Gamecocks score drives. Safety was also hit on several major catches. They helped stop the race, but they also missed some tackles and let the Gamecocks pass. Jamien Sherwood finished with five tackles, and Smoke Monday finished with one.
Special team: B
Like the last game, kicker Anders Carlson had to score many of Auburn’s points. He kicked three field goals, all less than 40 yards because Auburn could not finish in the red zone. He made all three. He also had four touchbacks on six kickoffs, and the coverage team allowed only a 16-yard kickoff return. Aidan Marshall only had to point twice, but averaged 45.5 yards per carry. Gamecocks’ only point return went just three yards. Bigsby only had one kickoff return and carried it 23 yards.
Auburn’s fighting in the red zone continues and not all blame can be placed on the players’ execution. Auburn relied solely on Nix and the passing game rather than trying to get the driving game going. Instead of making the famous defensive adjustments at the break, Auburn actually gave up more in the second half, which will become commonplace for this team in 2020. The clock control also left something to be desired.
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