Auburn Football: Winners and Losers from the Week 4 Game vs. LSU
Auburn came up short in its bid to shock the college football world on Saturday night. Auburn fell to second-ranked LSU by a score of 12-10 in a hard-fought game that was as physical as they get in the SEC.
Still, rather than being blown out as most expected, Auburn made strides towards becoming the team it want to become.
The Tigers will have a week off to regroup and recuperate from the bumps and bruises that the first four weeks brought.
The Tigers will now begin preparation for Arkansas on October 6th.
Let's find three winners and three losers from Auburn's loss to LSU on Saturday.
Winner: Corey Lemonier
Defensive end Corey Lemonier harassed LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger on a regular basis Saturday night.
Lemonier's sack of Mettenberger that resulted in a fumble swung the momentum into Auburn's favor in the first quarter.
"I was just trying to hit him as hard as I can," Lemonier said. "It was a huge momentum swing for us. We went down and scored, and that was big for us" (via Joel Erickson, AL.com).
Lemonier's speed and power was too much for LSU's offensive tackles to handle, and the consistent pressure forced Zach Mettenberger to make poor throws.
Lemonier ended the night with only three tackles, but two of those were sacks.
Loser: Quan Bray
Quan Bray has been very reliable returning punts in 2012. Until last night.
After a big stop by the Auburn defense, Bray took his eyes off the football for just a small moment. It resulted in a dropped punt that LSU recovered. We know what happened after that. LSU took the ball and scored the only points of the second half on a field goal.
Without Bray's blunder, Auburn upsets the second-ranked team in the country on Saturday night.
To Bray's credit, he came back out after his mishap and cleanly fielded successive attempts.
Winner: Joshua Holsey
The Auburn secondary has struggled in 2012, and that has led to new people getting opportunities in the defensive backfield.
Joshua Holsey got his opportunity last night. LSU attempted to go right at the true freshman in a pivotal moment, and Holsey responded with a big pass break-up. It was encouraging to see after poor coverage techniques in the secondary over the past few year.
"I was just trying to make a play," Holsey said. "I didn't think he was going to throw it, because I was so covering so well. I saw it, and I just made a play on the ball" (via Joel Erickson, AL.com).
Holsey came in this fall rated as a 4-star prospect and the country's 15th best cornerback in the nation (Rivals.com).
Loser: Scot Loeffler
Scot Loeffler has earned a spot on the loser side of this weekly column for most of the last three games.
Loeffler made a smart move in moving down to the sidelines from the press box to be able to calm down his quarterback and communicate easier with him.
Questionable play-calling was once again the problem on the offensive side of the ball. Could the play-calling be due to lack of trust in Frazier? Or is it just determination to not deviate from the game plan?
Backed up in Auburn's end zone, Loeffler called for the stretch play that has been a common call in early part of the year. LSU's defense is too fast to be running this play with so little room for error.
In other moments, we are still seeing draw plays being called on 2nd-and-long and 3rd-and-long situations. Why?
In the second half, Auburn was beginning to find success in its rushing game after Kiehl Frazier had loosened up the LSU defense through the air. Still, Loeffler only gave the ball to Mason nine times on the night. Mason has proven that he is capable of shouldering the load and can hold on to the ball.
On top of that, Auburn only converted two of their twelve attempts on third down.
These things are not a recipe for offensive success against LSU.
Winner: Jordan-Hare Stadium Crowd
Auburn players and coaches needed the fans to provide a raucous atmosphere, and the Auburn fans delivered.
On Saturday night, 86,721 fans rocked Jordan-Hare Stadium, and the Auburn portion of those fans were immersed in the game from start to finish.
After a 1-2 start and a gloomy outlook for the outcome of the game, Auburn fans could have let the LSU faithful take over the stadium.
LSU had nine penalties for 80 yards, and three of those penalties were false starts.
There is a reason that Gene Chizik has only been defeated twice in night games at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Auburn fans showed the nation why it is so hard for opposing teams to come to Auburn at night and leave with a win.
Loser: Defensive Tackles
Auburn's defensive tackles were pushed around in the opening quarter against LSU on Saturday. LSU was running up the middle of Auburn's defense with ease.
Angelo Blackson, Gabe Wright, Jeffrey Whitaker and Kenneth Carter were pushed back into linebacker's laps with relative ease.
The defensive line was able to get more penetration once LSU center P.J. Lonergan went down with an injury for a limited time.
There were some bright spots. Gabe Wright broke up a pass. Jeffrey Whitaker and Angelo Blackson both recovered fumbles.
Later in the second half, LSU began to find success again up the middle of the Auburn defense.
Whitaker led the Tiger's defensive tackles with four tackles, Angelo Blackson had two, and Gabe Wright had one.
There was improvement by the defensive tackles in this game from previous weeks, but they are not playing well enough right now to consistently stop the run. The defensive line was supposed to be a strength in 2012. The defensive ends have done their part. Now, the defensive tackles must do theirs.
This is an area that must improve if Auburn plans to turn things around in October.
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