Auburn Football: 10 Things We Learned from the Tigers' Loss vs. Texas A&M
It was a loss of historic proportions on the Plains.
Auburn fell to Texas A&M, 63-21 on Saturday evening. In all honesty, it may have not even been that close.
The game was never in doubt as the Aggies did not have to punt until late in the second half. Texas A&M had 28 points before Auburn ever recorded a first down.
Johnny Manziel lived up to the hype and played extremely well. He was on the sidelines for good midway through the third quarter.
Auburn's record moved to 1-7 overall and 0-6 in conference play.
Texas A&M improved its record to 6-2 and 3-2 in the SEC.
As always, let's find 10 things we learned from Auburn's lopsided loss against Texas A&M.
Auburn's Troubles Against Spread Offenses Continued
The Auburn defense's struggles against spread offenses continued on Saturday night.
It looked much the same as it did against Clemson, Louisiana-Monroe, Ole Miss, et al. Not aligned properly, not enough men on the field and getting gashed in the running game.
Texas A&M's version of the spread may have been the best that Auburn will see all year. It is obvious that this team does not have the personnel to face the spread offenses.
The Aggies racked up 671 total yards; 352 of those came on the ground.
Auburn D allowed 8.2 yards per play, 671 yards and 9 touchdowns. Johnny Manziel had 350 yards, 5 touchdowns. #reality— Ryan Wood (@AUBlog) October 28, 2012
With a lot of offenses in the SEC and around the country moving to spread offenses, Brian VanGorder and the Auburn defense must figure out how to keep these teams at bay.
Auburn has allowed point totals of 63, 41, 24, 28 and 26 against spread offenses this year.
VanGorder feels the way many Auburn fans do about the performance.
"It's embarrassing for me, it's embarrassing for Gene, it's embarrassing for the Auburn people," VanGorder said. "That's what it is. That's how I feel." (via Joel Erickson, AL.com)
Defensive Line Was Dominated
The defensive line was supposed to be a strength of this Auburn defense. It has been a long way from that in 2012.
From the first snap, the Auburn defensive line was pushed around. Texas A&M ran through, around and over Mike Pelton's unit.
As the name of the spread offense infers, the defensive line gets widened out and as a result, the defensive linemen have much bigger gaps to fill.
Johnny Manziel felt a little pressure, but even when he did, it did not take much to get around the Auburn defensive linemen.
After being called out by defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder last week, the Auburn defensive line responded with a whimper.
Missed Tackles Rear Their Ugly Head Again
The defensive performance tonight resembled the performance we saw when Auburn took on Clemson in the first game of the season.
Missed tackles reared their ugly head as Auburn seemingly lost all sense of fundamentals once again.
The frustrating part of the missed tackles is that recently, the defense has shown flashes of improvement with fundamentals. It took a step back tonight.
Whether it was Johnny Manziel, Trey Williams or Ryan Swope, Auburn consistently could not bring them down after initial contact.
Defenders would fly up without any control and just dive at the runner. College football players should know better.
Auburn hasn't known better since Gene Chizik took over.
Coaches Are Scared to Put in Jonathan Wallace
Auburn fans have been scratching their heads in recent weeks about why more of the offense has not been handed over to Jonathan Wallace.
When Clint Moseley left the game with an apparent ankle injury, there was no better time to put Jonathan Wallace in and give him full reign of the offense.
Instead, the coaching staff went back to Kiehl Frazier, who was replaced earlier in the year and has been said to be at only 80 percent health-wise.
Chizik on Wallace: "He showed signs of maturing some. But you can't throw everything at a young guy and expect him to execute it all."
— Aaron Brenner (@wareagleextra) October 28, 2012
At this point in the season, what would it hurt?
The coaching staff is afraid to give Wallace the keys the offense.
Kiehl Frazier Is Still Uncomfortable
Kiehl Frazier returned to the playing field after Clint Moseley went out with an apparent ankle injury early in the game.
He still looked as uncomfortable as he did earlier in the year.
Yes, his shoulder is injured and only at 80 percent. That shouldn't change the way he looks in the pocket.
Many people thought that Frazier would be able to adapt to the pro-style offense that Scot Loeffler brought to the Plains.
It is apparent that he never will be able to adapt. Frazier is a spread quarterback that is lost in the vast forest of a pro-style system.
This Team Is Historically Bad
The fans that stayed the entire game on Saturday were able to witness history. That is not necessarily a good thing. For Auburn fans anyway.
Auburn had not been dominated like that since its former coach came down from Atlanta in 1917 and put a whooping on the Tigers.
Last time Auburn allowed this many points in regulation (56), John Heisman & G. Tech stuck 68 on them in 1917.— Jon Solomon (@jonsol) October 28, 2012
To make things worse, the 671 yards of offense that Auburn allowed Texas A&M was also a school record.
#Auburn officially gives up 352 yards rushing, 319 passing yards, 34 first downs and a school-record 671 yards of total offense.
— Joel A. Erickson (@JoelAEricksonAU) October 28, 2012
When it comes to overall record, Auburn is in competition with the 1980 Tigers to be the worst Auburn team in modern history. That team also went winless in the SEC. Doug Barfield was fired after that year.
C.J. Uzomah Is a Capable Replacement for Phillip Lutzenkirchen
One bright spot for the Auburn offense was TE C.J. Uzomah.
Uzomah received the starting nod for the second straight week after senior TE Phillip Lutzenkirchen was sidelined with a season-ending hip injury.
Uzomah is a capable replacement. He has big shoes to fill, but he is on the right track.
Uzomah was the second-leading receiver for Auburn tonight. He had three receptions for 90 yards and a touchdown.
Auburn Players Gave Up
One of the more disappointing takeaways from Auburn's loss vs. Texas A&M is the perception that the Auburn team quit.
The players and coaches say that the perception is not the reality, but it's hard to believe that Texas A&M's second-string offense would be able to easily march down the field on a defense that was full of Auburn's starters.
Texas A&M's backups – still playing #Auburn's starters – just slammed it down the Tigers' throat. TAMU 56, AU 14, 4:30 third quarter.
— Ryan Wood (@AUBlog) October 28, 2012
Former Auburn safety Rob Pate, who was on a pretty bad Auburn team himself, also felt the Tigers quit.
Kids have quit. First time I've thought that. Death knell for staff. Modern era AU football low.— Rob Pate (@robpate) October 27, 2012
The Auburn fans that attended the game also gave up. After halftime, Jordan-Hare Stadium was over half-empty. Gene Chizik understood.
"If they emptied out at halftime, it's obvious why and I don't blame them for what they saw. It was just a very poor performance," Chizik said. (via Charles Goldberg, AL.com)
Jonathan Wallace Should Get the Start Against New Mexico State
Yes, it was against the second-teamers, but Jonathan Wallace looked the most comfortable that any QB has under center this season.
With a team that is worse than Auburn (yes, they exist) coming into Jordan-Hare next week, it is the perfect opportunity for Wallace to start and get his feet wet as the Auburn starting QB before the UGA game the following week.
Wallace finally got a chance to showcase his arm on Saturday evening. The freshman went 6-of-9 for 122 yards and two touchdowns against a Texas A&M defense that was comprised of mostly backups.
Even before the second half, Wallace provided a much-needed spark on Auburn's first touchdown drive.
Gene Chizik would not commit to Wallace starting against New Mexico State next week.
It's obvious to everyone but the men roaming the sidelines who the Auburn starting QB should be next Saturday.
Chizik May Not Finish off the Season
After Auburn president Jay Gouge issued a statement to the Auburn family on Thursday, the writing was on the wall that Gene Chizik would not be the head coach in 2013.
After Chizik's team allowed the most points ever in Jordan-Hare Stadium, Chizik may not last for the rest of the season.
Chizik dodged questions about his job security in the post-game press conference.
"I'm not going there" he said three times. And, if asked again, he said he would repeat it a fourth time."I've got one concern is those guys in the locker room and that's to get a win," Chizik said. (via Charles Goldberg, AL.com)
The student section at the third quarter kickoff. Yeah. twitter.com/AubOrange/stat…
— Justin Lee (@AubOrange) October 28, 2012
The empty seats spoke volumes and answers the question if the Auburn family is "All In" in 2012. That answer is a resounding no.
Asking if Chizik will be around to see the Iron Bowl in four weeks is a completely legitimate question. One thing is for sure, Auburn fans will not stop making sure their voices are heard by people in leadership positions at Auburn University.