Auburn Football: 10 Things We Learned from AU's Loss vs. LSU
The Auburn Tigers played their best football game of the season in the loss against No. 2 LSU Saturday night. Auburn showed us 10 things in this unbelievable game that was back and forth to the finish in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
This was a battle from start to finish, with both teams pushing for every inch gained. LSU did not come to Auburn expecting this dog fight and it showed. They played as good as possible, but the Tigers had an undying resolve that helped them stay in the game late into the fourth quarter.
Auburn will take this strong performance and move into the bye week with a lot of confidence as they prepare for Arkansas. The Tigers have a lot to grow on from this game. Here are the 10 things they showed us.
The Auburn Defense Has Aggression
For the first time in the 2012 season, the Auburn defense has shown aggression. The Tigers have been playing soft football and giving up a lot of yardage in the first three games.
Auburn lined up and played LSU tough, popping them square in the mouth on every play. The Tigers defense was relentless, flying to the football consistently.
The Tigers did have a few struggles with tackling, but the overall effort was a strong one and led to a really strong game against the Bayou Bengals.
Jonathan Wallace Will Not Redshirt
Jonathan Wallace was expected to take a redshirt this season. Auburn pulled out all the stops offensively, and brought Wallace off the bench.
Wallace was in on a handful of plays from primarily the Wildcat formation. The formations worked for positive yards consistently for Auburn, but it was a surprise to see Wallace enter the game.
Does this mean that Wallace will become a more regular piece of the Auburn offense in the future? Hard to believe the Tigers would burn a redshirt season if they don’t plan on playing him consistently.
Scot Loeffler Takes to the Sideline
One of the more interesting moves in this game was Auburn offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler going from the box to the field.
Kiehl Frazier has looked lost at times in the past three games, and there has been an apparent lack of communication as well. Saturday night, the Tigers looked very fluid on offense. The only miscues came from good defensive plays.
Auburn showed a lot of offensive improvement against a stellar defense. You have to assume that some of that has been helped by the sideline presence of the offensive coordinator.
Auburn Had Success on the Ground
LSU has one of the best rushing defenses in the country this season. Auburn knew that it would have to earn yards on the ground to keep this game within reach.
Despite the daunting wall that stood in front of the Auburn offense in gold and purple, the Tigers pushed and earned good yards on the ground—especially in the second half.
Auburn showed that it has premier talent in the backfield and an offensive line that is able to hold its weight against some of the top talent in the country.
Auburn’s ability to gain ground yards was huge for offensive momentum.
Quan Bray Needs Work at Punt Return
On multiple occasions, Quan Bray showed deficiencies trying to make a punt return. The Tigers turned the ball over thanks to a fumbled punt, and Bray let one get so lost in a dark night sky that he had to run away from the play.
The Tigers need to have a consistent returner who can at least catch the football. Bray has been that guy, but this week he lost his concentration.
Bray needs to be put to work this bye week.
Kiehl Frazier Shows Flashes
Kiehl Frazier was not a great quarterback on Saturday night, but he was better than the week before.
Against one of the toughest defenses in the country, Frazier impressed me from start to finish. He made some big mistakes in the game, but he made up for most of them.
At the end of the day, there was no way that the game was going to end up being won because Frazier made a big play. He simply isn’t there yet. This game did show growth from the young quarterback, showing flashes of excellence at times.
Emory Blake Is One of the Best Receivers in the Country
One of the major bright spots for the Auburn offense was receiver Emory Blake. Blake made key catches for the Tigers and finished the game with four catches for 56 yards.
Blake was open with a lot of space late in the fourth quarter, but Frazier was unable to hit him on the final drive. Auburn may not have the quarterback to profile Blake completely right now, but he is one of the best receivers in the country.
Blake is a very good perimeter blocker, and he can find space in any defensive scheme.
Auburn Defensive Line Catching Its Groove
The Auburn defensive line has struggled through the first three games to find stops against the run and earn a lot of consistency in the pass rush.
Today the Tigers were able to accomplish both goals. The Tigers defensive line looked most impressive against the LSU rushing offense. LSU was held to 183 yards on the ground with none of their backs making it over 100 yards.
Auburn had been giving up 217 yards on the ground a game prior to this contest. The Tigers really stepped up their game Saturday night in Jordan-Hare.
Defensive Shakeups Pay Dividends
The Auburn defense saw some shakeups in the defensive secondary to start the game. Jonathon Mincy earned the start over Chris Davis, Erique Florence saw consistent time and Joshua Holsey contributed a lot of plays at corner.
One of the biggest plays for the Auburn defense came from Holsey as he broke up a pass to the end zone deep in the fourth quarter that would have given LSU a two-score lead.
Florence, Holsey and Mincy were all in on a number of plays throughout the game. The three were major defensive contributors all night. Where they have been all season is anyone’s guess.
Auburn Will Play Press-Man Defense
Auburn looked like it was mimicking the defensive sets of the past three seasons earlier in the year. The Tigers opened up the calls a bit last week, but this week showed that Auburn will play press-man coverage.
There were multiple occasions that Auburn lined its defender in the face of the receiver. The Auburn defense played aggressive from start to finish.
LSU was limited on offense because Auburn was mixing strong coverage with a great pass rush. Auburn was very tight on the outside and showed that they have the talent to hang with some of the best in the country.