Auburn Football: Winners and Losers from the Week 3 Game vs Louisiana-Monroe
Auburn picked up its first win of the 2012 season on Saturday against upset-minded Louisiana-Monroe. The Tigers had to scratch and claw for the win. The Warhawks put up a valiant effort in the fourth quarter and forced overtime for the second straight week against an SEC West opponent.
Auburn does not have any time to celebrate. Defending SEC champion and second-ranked LSU is coming to visit Jordan-Hare Stadium next Saturday for a night game on the Plains. The game is at 7 p.m. ET and will be televised nationally by ESPN.
Before the focus shifts to the Tigers from the Bayou, let's find three winners and three losers from Saturday's victory over ULM.
Winner: Cody Parkey
Cody Parkey has turned into Mr. Reliable for Auburn. He has not missed a field goal or point-after attempt in 2012. On Saturday, Parkey hit four point-after attempts and the game-winning field goal in overtime.
He has also boomed plenty of kicks out of the end zone on kickoffs.
Gene Chizik showed just how much confidence he has in the junior kicker when Chizik elected to kick on the Tigers' third play in overtime. After a 10-yard gain on the first play, Kiehl Frazier took a knee and let Cody Parkey take care of the rest.
"He’s been perfect in practice. He’s been perfect in the games. We feel very comfortable putting him in with the game on the line with our special teams and winning it," said Chizik after the win (via Charles Goldberg, al.com).
Loser: Scot Loeffler
Offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler is in a tough spot. He is installing a new offense with three new starters on the offensive line. He has a quarterback that has zero confidence. Some had the hire labeled as a failure before the first game.
Good quarterback play can make an offensive coordinator look like a genius. Bad quarterback play can make him look like a fool. For three quarters on Saturday, Kiehl Frazier made Loeffler look pretty good. In the fourth quarter, Frazier threw an interception and the confidence he had built throughout the game was gone. Loeffler went very conservative afterwards and allowed Louisiana-Monroe to get back in the game.
With the exception of a quarterback-throwback play that resulted in a touchdown, the play-calling was extremely predictable once again. Most every play in the I-formation is a dive that runs to the left behind Greg Robinson and John Sullen.
Loeffler had Frazier passing mostly out of the shotgun, which is a smart move. It is just very predictable.
It is understandable that Loeffler does not want to ask Kiehl Frazier to do too much, but there has to be some risk taken for there to be any reward. He needs to open up the playbook.
In Loeffler's defense, a lot of failed plays have not been the result of play calls. They've been the result of Frazier not seeing wide-open receivers.
Winner: Sammie Coates
Just maybe, Sammie Coates will be the first of these heralded recruits that we hear so much about in practice to break through.
Coates only caught two passes yesterday for 34 yards, but it finally appears that Auburn has another deep threat besides Emory Blake.
Coates would have had a third catch. In the first quarter, he made a sensational diving catch down the sideline that was called back due to an illegal formation penalty.
We saw Coates' athleticism when he out-jumped everyone on the last play of the first half to haul in his first career touchdown. Surprisingly, Coates' name was not called in the second half.
At 6'2", 200 pounds, Coates has the size and speed to be a big-time player for Auburn. Yesterday was just a glimpse of what Coates is capable of.
Loser: Jake Holland
Middle linebacker Jake Holland works hard. He plays the game the right way and with great effort. Unfortunately, his hard work and effort have not resulted in production on the field during games.
With 3:52 left in the first half, ULM was driving down the field in an effort to tie the ballgame. ULM Quarterback Kolton Browning ran a simple read-option play that Holland did not read well and over-pursued. This allowed Browning an easy path to the end zone.
All season long, Holland has had issues with his angles, pursuit and ability to get off blocks.
Holland has been slow dropping back into pass coverage as well. Louisiana-Monroe liked to run play-action to freeze Holland and slip a receiver behind him.
Ashton Richardson and Cassanova McKinzy are pushing Holland for playing time and if his play does not improve, he may find himself looking up to someone on the depth chart.
Winner: Daren Bates
He may be undersized for a linebacker in the SEC, but Daren Bates plays a lot bigger than his measurables.
When he moved to linebacker in 2010, Bates had a hard time finishing tackles. That changed in 2011.
Bates led Auburn in tackling in 2011 and is on pace to do the same this year. Bates led Auburn in tackling on Saturday. He had five solo tackles and helped out on nine others. He also had two pass breakups.
Bates' consistent play and leadership have been big for the Auburn defense so far this season.
Loser: Willie Martinez
Another week, another slashing of the Auburn secondary. ULM quarterback Kolton Browning completed 28 of his 46 pass attempts on Saturday. Three of those completions were for touchdowns.
Defensive coordinator Brian Van Gorder has said that Auburn isn't built to play man-to-man press coverage (subscription required). That's understandable, but lack of simple coverage techniques is not. Secondary coach Willie Martinez needs to get his group fixed in a hurry.
You don't have to be Vince Lombardi to coach a player to turn around and find the ball when it is in the air in coverage. Not doing this earned the Auburn secondary a couple of pass interference penalties on Saturday.
When a receiver is streaking down the sideline on his pattern, the defensive back in man coverage is supposed to widen and force the receiver towards the sideline. Kolton Browning connected with ULM receiver Tavarese Maye on a 32-yard pass down the sideline on 3rd-and-9 when T'Sharvan Bell failed to do this.
These are just a couple of examples from yesterday where Willie Martinez' unit showed their inadequacies.
The Auburn secondary is not tough. They play soft in their coverage and they invite opposing quarterbacks to take chunks of yards as they wish.
Willie Martinez, if nothing else, needs to get his group to do the little things in pass coverage. If not, these gaudy passing numbers that opposing quarterbacks are putting up will continue.
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