Auburn vs. Vanderbilt: Final Grades and Analysis for Auburn's Week 8 Game
The Vanderbilt Commodores overcame the Auburn Tigers 17-13 to keep the Tigers winless in SEC play.
Auburn's upperclassmen didn't play very well in this game, and at 1-6, they would be better off playing and developing their younger players.
It has been a sad season thus far for Auburn and it isn't going to get any better. For the sake of the program, it is time to focus on preparing next season's team.
Let's take a look at the Tigers' final post game grades and analysis.
Clint Moseley- D
Overall Game Grade- D
Clint Moseley completed 14 of his 20 passes for just 98 yards. Those numbers scream game manager, but his play hasn't even earned that label.
Moseley missed a throw in the second quarter that would have gone for a touchdown that would have drastically changed the game.
He shouldn't start next week, as he didn't show any progression throughout the game. Moseley fails to instill confidence into the offense and the Tigers would be better off grooming Jonathan Wallace into the quarterback of the future starting this week.
Fourth Quarter- D
Clint Moseley must be as frustrated as Auburn fans, but that won't stop those same fans from ripping their junior quarterback for his play.
When Moseley is under center, it is clear that the offense has very little confidence. He isn't accurate, doesn't run very well and fails to read opposing defenses well.
Moseley did nothing in the fourth quarter and was ineffective throughout the game.
Once the Tigers were forced to give him the green light to throw the ball down the field, Moseley showed us why he wasn't allowed to look deep earlier.
Third Quarter- D
Clint Moseley feels comfortable throwing the ball to Emory Blake, as he has targeted him six times this afternoon.
The majority of Moseley's passes in the quarter have been swing outs or bubble screens, which put all the responsibility on the receiver to make guys miss in the open field.
Moseley is having a rough day actually running the offense, as he is only capable of taking what the defense gives him. In fact, he struggles with that at times.
He also needs to spend more time in the film room, as he has had a very difficult time picking up blitzes before the snap.
Second Quarter- C+
Clint Moseley threw the ball behind a wide open Emory Blake in the end zone. If Moseley had made the routine throw, it would have tied the game.
Instead, Auburn was forced to settle for a field goal. I have a feeling that we will look back at Moseley's errant throw as a turning point in the game.
Moseley didn't have a great half, which aided in the poor performance by the offense in general.
After the defensive stand and a couple of Tre Mason runs, Moseley utilized play action and delivered a strike to Blake. The throw was excellent, and it put the Tigers on the Commodores six yard line.
First Quarter- C-
Clint Moseley completed his only pass attempt in the first quarter, but the completion was seven yards short of the first down marker.
A miscommunication with a running back caused Moseley to run the ball for a loss of a yard.
The first drive was unsuccessful but Moseley doesn't deserve all the blame.
Overall Game Grade- D
It was another rough day for the Auburn offense, as they struggled to maintain drives.
Starting quarterback Clint Moseley doesn't bring anything to the table, which allowed the Vanderbilt offense to play aggressive. It didn't take long for the Commodores to get a hold for what the Tigers were doing offensively, and once they did, Auburn had a hard time moving the ball.
By the games end, the Tigers had only compiled 109 yards through the air and 103 on the ground.
Tre Mason ran the ball 16 times for 85 yards, and the Tigers should have given him more attempts. If he had reached the 20 carry mark, he would have easily gone over 100 yards and broken another big run or two.
Dropping Moseley back was completely ineffective, so the offense should have been varied more.
Fourth Quarter- F
The Tigers had a short field to start the fourth quarter but were forced to settle for a field goal. The drive was aided by an unnecessary roughness call against Vanderbilt.
Auburn certainly has a chance to drive it down the field for a touchdown, but everything would have to go just right in order to do that.
If they are going to win this game, it will more likely come from a big play on special teams or defense that gives the offense a short field.
Tre Mason has been effective, but the offensive line has allowed penetration on too many plays. It's really hard for offenses to be successful when the quarterback does nothing more than hand the ball off and throw the ball to receivers at the line of scrimmage.
The defense recovered a fumble with over two minutes left, giving the offense one more chance to win the game. If they hope to do so, then they better open up the offense and throw the ball down the field.
Moseley was unable to drive the offense down the field, as the tough year for Auburn fans continues.
Third Quarter- C-
Auburn started the third quarter with the ball and are continuing to keep the ball on the ground. In fact, Gene Chizik is starting to use his two running backs differently and Vanderbilt is having a hard time slowing them down.
Onterio McCalebb is getting the ball on tosses, which has allowed him to use his speed on the outside. Tre Mason is better running inside the tackles and making cuts form there and has punished the Commodores inside.
Another negative play doomed the Tigers first drive, as Jonathan Wallace fumbled the ball. Luckily for Auburn, they jumped on the ball but were forced into a 2nd and 19 due to the yards lost.
In situations like that, Auburn has few options because they don't trust Clint Moseley enough to let him sit back and throw down the field.
The Tigers offense may as well walk off the field when first down doesn't go well, because they are incapable of converting long down and distance situations.
Tre Mason broke off the teams' biggest play of the day, as he ripped off a 34 yard run that demonstrated his power and speed.
With Clint Moseley at the helm, the offense is very predictable which has made it difficult on the Tigers skill players to make big plays.
Second Quarter- B+
After recovering a fumble late in the first quarter, the Auburn offense came onto the field with a chance to swing the momentum back in their favor.
That didn't happen, as Auburn called three predictable plays and were forced to punt. The offense hasn't moved the ball through two drives and need to run Tre Mason more.
Whenever he gets the ball, Mason makes it clear that he won't be easy to take down. The Vandy defense has struggled tackling so far, which could lead to a very big day for Mason.
Gene Chizik used Jonathan Wallace early in the second quarter, and he threw his first pass on the year which led to a first down.
The Auburn offensive line allowed penetration on first and second and goal, which created a very long third-and-long.
Everything needs to go right for the Tigers to score points, and the execution has been spotty at best.
After Vandy turned the ball over on downs, Auburn's offense drove down the field in five yards to score a touchdown. Mason took the handoff from Moseley and found the end zone from two yards out to give the Tigers their first lead of the day.
First Quarter- C-
On Auburn's first play, Tre Mason took a handoff to the right and cut it up the field for a 17-yard run. The game plan against Vanderbilt will be to run the ball effectively, so it was important to gain momentum on the ground right away.
The Tigers can't afford to get into unfavorable down and distance situations, as putting extra pressure on Clint Moseley to throw the ball downfield could be dangerous.
Auburn's first drive only reinforced that idea, as two negative plays and a short pass forced them to punt the ball right back to Vandy.
The Commodores dominated the clock in the first quarter as they held the ball for 11 minutes and 38 seconds.
Overall Game Grade- C+
The defense allowed 375 yards but caused three turnovers, so giving them a final grade is tough.
At the end of the day, the Commodores only scored 17 points. Auburn's offense had multiple chances to drive the ball down the field for the go-ahead score and were unable to do get it done.
While Zac Stacy tore the run defense up, he was forced to fumble twice. With one of those fumbles coming on a play in which the Tigers desperately needed a turnover to stand any chance in the game.
At the very least, linebacker Cassanova McKinzy should be praised for their strong play running sideline to sideline.
Fourth Quarter- C+
The Auburn defense has given their offense plenty of opportunities, although most of those chances have been squandered. The defense will likely take unwarranted criticism because they were solid considering that they were on the field for a good portion of the game.
The Tigers defense is under a lot of pressure in the fourth quarter, as the game depends on them stopping Vandy and giving the ball back to their offense.
The defense has been aided by drops, false start penalties and questionable play calling by the Commodore coaching staff.
Zac Stacy is Vanderbilt's all-time leading rusher, as they leaned on him to try to run out the game late in the fourth quarter. While Stacy dominated on Vandy's final drive, the Auburn defense was able to force a fumble on a third-and-six to save time and get the ball back for the offense with just over two minutes left in the game.
The Tigers defense surrendered rushing yards by the bunch in the quarter, but forced a fumble to give their offense one final chance.
Third Quarter- C-
The Vanderbilt offense came out firing in their first drive, as they found themselves at midfield after four plays.
Zac Stacy ran through the Auburn defense for runs of nine, 18 and 30 yards on the drive that gave Vandy a 17-10 lead. After he gained the majority of the yardage, he walked into the end zone untouched.
The Auburn defense got steamrolled on Vandy's first drive of the third quarter, as they took the ball 85 yards in seven plays. The Commodores offensive line dominated the Tigers defensive line and Stacy did the rest.
For reasons that I will never understand, Vandy didn't run the ball with favorable field position and were forced to punt with 4:50 left in the third quarter.
If the Commodores decide to keep it in the air, then the Tigers have the advantage. As soon as Stacy touches the ball Vandy is in control.
It would help the defense quite a bit if the offense was able to pick up a couple of first downs so they can catch their breathe on the sidelines.
Second Quarter- B+
The Auburn defense managed to get Vanderbilt off the field on third downs in the second quarter.
They were able to force them to punt because they forced Vandy to convert in third-and-long situations rather than third-and-shorts.
As long as the Tigers defense swarms to the ball and doesn't allow big runs on first and second down, they will be able to keep the Commodores off the board.
After stopping Jordan Rodgers half a yard short of the first down on third down, they shut down Zac Casey on fourth-and-inches to give their offense great field position at midfield.
The Tigers defense was impressive when defending the Commodores conventional offense in the second quarter, and true freshman linebacker Cassanova McKinzy deserves a lot of the credit. Heading into the half, McKinzy has compiled eight tackles and recovered a fumble.
When Vandy went into its' two minute offense, they were happy go settle for underneath passes to move the ball down the field. With the Tigers being conservative on the half's final drive, the Commodores had no problem moving the ball up and down the field.
First Quarter- C+
True freshman linebacker Cassanova McKinzy began what could be a special career with a tackle on the games first play from scrimmage.
McKinzy has been all over the field making plays and doesn't look like a true freshman. Auburn got burnt on a quick hit to Jordan Matthews, who then cut up field for 23 yards.
As expected, the game has been very physical thus far and the Commodores are doing a good job holding their blocks. If the Auburn defense tackles well, they will be in good shape because Vanderbilt is setting for short passes.
The linebackers are playing much quicker than they did last week against Ole Miss, which is showing early on.
Auburn surrendered two fourth down conversions on the touchdown drive, but they are making Vanderbilt work hard to move the ball.
The Commodores have been lining up in the Wildcat and the Tigers have had no answer for it in the first quarter. Auburn has been unable to make a key stop on a third or fourth and short situation.
The Tigers forced a fumble, which made this grade significantly better.
Special Teams- C
Overall Game Grade- C
This one is a push.
Onterior McCalebb was flagged for fair catch interference twice, but the unit also snuffed out a fake punt that gave the offense excellent field position.
Cody Parkey connected on both of his field goals and is now 11 for 12 on the year.
The Commodores did a good job neutralizing the Tigers kick off and punt return games, as neither unit was able to make a noteworthy play.]
Give Vandy credit, they knew if they could keep Auburn from making a splash on special teams, then they would have a very good chance to win the game due to the Tigers inept offense.
Fourth Quarter- C
Not much to report on the special teams front in the fourth quarter, but the performance from the unit was up and down throughout the afternoon.
Third Quarter- D
The kickoff failed to make it to the twenty yard line on each of the first two returns of the third quarter, which really hurt the offense.
Onterio McCalebb was flagged for fair catch interference a second time, which gave the Commodores the ball at midfield as the exhausted Auburn defense comes back onto the field.
It's time to sit McCalebb on the bench for the next couple of punt returns, because even his speed and playmaking abilities doesn't make up for the two flags that were thrown on him.
This was about as bad a special teams unit can play without receiving an "F".
Second Quarter- A
Onterio McCalebb was flagged for fair catch interference, which gave Vandy decent field position.
Mistakes like this from the special teams are unforgivable, especially when the offense and defense are both struggling.
Vanderbilt tried an option out of a punt formation, and Auburn stifled it giving the Tigers their best field position of the day. The offense needs to make the most of the opportunity that the special teams unit has provided.
After the offense stalled out in the red zone, Cody Parkey connected on a 27 yard field goal to get the Tigers on the board.
The fair catch interference penalty was a mistake, but the way the punt return team swallowed up the option easily made up for the error.
First Quarter- C
The punt coverage team almost pinned Vanderbilt inside their five yardline, but the coverage man failed to bat the ball out of the end zone.
The special teams unit didn't make a play in the first quarter, but I expect that to change in the second if presented with an opportunity.
Overall Game Grade- F
The play calling was confusing and ineffective.
The offense had a hard time executing even the simplest of plays in the first quarter and the coaches deserve the blame for that.
After losing to Vandy, it is likely that Auburn won't win a single SEC conference game this season.
Do they look like a team that could upset Texas A&M, Georgia or Alabama right now?
Not at all.
Auburn has fallen a long way since winning the National Championship in 2010 and are playing for school pride at this point.
I don't know if Gene Chizik will keep his job at this rate, which is stunning considering his recent success.
Fourth Quarter- D
What is there to say?
The coaching staff doesn't call plays that give Clint Moseley a chance to make plays which makes things a lot less complicated for Vanderbilt's defense.
Tre Mason should have been given more carries, and Onterio McCalebb should only receive the ball in open space because he thrives in those situations.
On a do-or-die third-and-four, the coaching staff dialed up a speed sweep that took too much time to develop and never had a chance.
Auburn was out coached and that is reflected in the grade.
Third Quarter- D
On offense, the philosophy is simple, play safe and ensure that each play is positive rather than negative. When negative plays occur, the Auburn offense has a very hard time overcoming them later in the drive.
Gene Chizik is in a tough spot, especially when the rushing attack gets stifled on first down. If I were him, I would get Clint Moseley out of the pocket as much as possible when faced with second-and-long situations because he has struggled finding open receivers from the pocket.
The coaching staff has to find a way to get something out of the offense as the game enters the fourth quarter, but I'm not optimistic.
Second Quarter- B-
The Auburn coaching staff needs to realize that their best chance to move the ball effectively is to run Tre Mason.
Mason has kept the Commodores defense accountable when they lose gap control, and as the defense wears down, Mason will find more open holes.
Auburn won the turnover battle in the first half and should be winning this game. However, after a terrible first quarter, Gene Chizik will have to settle for a tie game at the half.
First Quarter- D
The defense looked as good as a defense that allows a touchdown can look. It took Vanderbilt 16 plays to drive the 75 yards, and they were forced to convert on two fourth downs to extend the drive.
This is a huge game for Gene Chizik, as it represents his best chance to avoid going winless in the conference.
Poor preparation was evident as Auburn had two negative offensive plays on their first drive of the quarter. There is no excuse to make blunders like that early in the game, and the blame should be directed toward the coaching staff.