Auburn Football: 10 Things We Learned from the Tigers' Loss vs. Georgia
The Georgia Bulldogs became the first SEC team to punch its ticket to the Georgia Dome for the SEC Championship Game on Dec. 1 on Saturday evening.
Georgia put talk of an Auburn upset to rest early when it scored on its first four drives of the game.
It's becoming the same old story for the Auburn Tigers, who fell to 2-8 overall and 0-7 in conference play. There were missed tackles, self-inflicted negative plays and uninspired play.
Gene Chizik saw his chances of not returning to the Auburn sideline increase tenfold by having the worst home loss in the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry. It is completely legitimate to believe that Chizik could be fired as early as next week.
Without further ado, let's find 10 things we learned about Auburn from the 116th meeting between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Auburn Tigers.
Auburn vs. Georgia Is Hardly a Rivalry Lately
A quick Google search for the definition of rivalry shows that rivalry is defined as competition for the same objective or for superiority in the same field.
There is no question who has been superior in the same field over the past seven games.
Auburn has now lost six of the past seven games against Georgia. The lone win came in 2010.
Georgia's 76-point margin of victory over Auburn in past 2 years ties for most lopsided in series' 120-year history.— Jon Solomon (@jonsol) November 11, 2012
The Auburn vs. Georgia game could usually be counted on to be a nail-biter with conference championship implications. For the most part, UGA has held up that end of the bargain and Auburn has not.
Auburn Still Can't Figure out How to Stop Someone on an Opening Drive
One argument that was made before the game started was that this game would be close because Auburn can defend pro-style defenses better than it can defend the spread.
That argument turned out to be invalid early on.
Like most opponents have done, Georgia marched down the field easily on its first drive of the game. The Bulldogs opening-drive TD was the third TD in the past four games that Auburn allowed on the opening drive.
It's almost a given that Auburn will be in a hole after the opponent's opening drive.
Auburn does not have enough (any?) offensive firepower to dig its way out of a hole.
Offenses usually script the first 10 to 15 plays on offense based on what it thinks the defense will do. Logic says that the Auburn defense should mix things up and show offenses different looks when the game begins.
Brian VanGorder and the Auburn defense have two more chances to figure this troublesome issue out.
Auburn Offense Continues to Shoot Itself in the Foot
The Auburn offense was driving down the field with ease in the first quarter in an effort to tie the ballgame up at seven apiece.
There were consecutive plays of 24- and 12-yard gains.
So what does Auburn and Scot Loeffler do?
They decide to get cute and try to throw a halfback pass with Quan Bray. Bray was not able to get rid of the ball and took a 10-yard loss. It doesn't make sense to call a trick play when things were going just fine without the need for trick plays.
It's a common trend. The Auburn offense consistently gets itself off schedule with negative plays after it establishes a rhythm. It happens in what seems like every game.
We talked earlier this week about how important it is for Auburn to stay on schedule. None of Auburn's touchdown drives this season had a penalty. One drive had a negative play.
The Auburn offense can't get out of its own way.
Jonathan Wallace Made Plays That Kiehl Frazier or Clint Moseley Could Not
By no means did freshman QB Jonathan Wallace play a perfect game in his first SEC start, but we saw why he is the best option for Auburn at QB right now.
Wallace made plays with his feet and avoided sacks on multiple occasions.
A lot of the plays he made were ones that would have probably resulted in sacks if Kiehl Frazier or Clint Moseley had been under center, judging by previous games in which they had taken snaps.
Wallace, although not perfect, earned a start in the final two games of the 2012 season.
Missed Tackles and Poor Fundamentals...Again
This is a topic in almost every single "lessons learned" article this season.
It's Week 11 and Auburn is still making the same fundamental mistakes it did when it took the field against Clemson on Sept. 1.
Auburn defenders consistently lunged at Georgia's ball-carriers and attempted to make the tackle with one arm.
On Keith Marshall's 62-yard touchdown run, an Auburn safety was in perfect position for the tackle. Instead of keeping his head up and putting his head across the runner's body, he lunged at Marshall and only got an arm on the freshman RB.
That will not bring anyone down, much less a star freshman.
There is no doubt that Auburn would lead the country in missed tackles if such a category was accounted for.
Coach Chizik Has Lost the Team
In his postgame press conference, Gene Chizik insisted that he had not lost his team and that they were still playing hard throughout the game.
"I really don't. Absolutely not. Obviously, we didn't play well, but on the sidelines...I don't feel that way at all," Chizik said. (via Charles Goldberg, AL.com)
Chizik must not have been watching the same game as the rest of us.
The rest of us saw an uninspired effort in the third and fourth quarters. The rest of us saw players that had the body language of a team who no longer believed in the head coach that led the Auburn program to a BCS title just two years ago.
Like the Auburn fans, this team just wants the next 14 days to pass as quickly as possible. At that point, this nightmare of a season will be over.
Poor Coverage Throughout the Game
Aaron Murray has started against Auburn for three consecutive years and for three years he has torched the Auburn secondary.
While the Auburn secondary has improved over the year, it is inexcusable to have the amount of open receivers that Georgia did tonight.
It was never more telling than when the Auburn defensive line got decent pressure on Aaron Murray and forced a quick and awkward throw. Usually that is when good things happen for a defense. For Auburn, a poorly thrown ball that was lofted into the air fell right into the hands of UGA WR Tavarres King for a big gain.
The Georgia WRs were able to get behind the Auburn secondary on numerous occasions and were pretty easy targets for Murray.
Murray finished his night 18-of-24 for 208 yards and three TDs. That was only through three quarters.
The Auburn secondary, on the other hand, had poor coverage and missed tackles all over the field. It is also still looking for its first interception of the 2012 season.
UGA Was More Physical Than Auburn
After former Auburn FB Heath Evans tore into the Auburn football team on Friday, I watched the physicality of this game with a very cautious eye. Here is what Evans said:
"Discipline, structure, accountability, and most importantly, mental and physical toughness,” he said. “It’s non-existent. It’s absolutely pathetic, and I know those are harsh words, but see, the thing about mental and physical toughness is, they’re created."
That is what Evans said in reference to summer workouts with the Auburn team that he attended.
He is absolutely right. Auburn was not only beaten on the scoreboard, it was also beaten in the physicality department.
Georgia was more physical up front, more physical in the running game and more physical on the outside.
That is not what Auburn is known for. Auburn is known for physical football and it hasn't played with a physical nature in two years.
Auburn does not stand a chance in any game if it plays with the level of physicality it played with Saturday night.
The Inexperience Excuse Can No Longer Be Used
If you had the opportunity to watch the game on TV, you would have heard the ESPN commentators allude to Auburn's youth and inexperience on multiple occasions.
That excuse should be over. It is their tenth game of the season and inexperience is no longer a factor. There may be some players that are classified as freshmen or sophomores, but players that have played a meaningful amount of snaps should be playing and acting like they are sophomores and juniors.
There is no other excuse for this Auburn team except to say that it is a very bad football team. There are very few things it does right and it is not because of inexperience or youth.
Gene Chizik Is a Lame Duck
If it wasn't already obvious, it should no longer be a question for even the staunchest of Gene Chizik supporters. Chizik is a lame duck coach. Next weekend will be his last on the Jordan-Hare sidelines.
Last year, the Tigers suffered four blowout losses to its main SEC West contenders. This year hasn't been any better.
It appears a lot of the time that Auburn does not even belong on the same field with teams like Mississippi State. That is what the Auburn football program has fallen to in less than two years after winning the national championship.
Auburn suffered a shutout tonight for the first time since 2008, when it lost to Alabama, 36-0. That performance resulted in a coaching change.
The same result will occur in 2012.
Auburn fans will not allow this product to continuously be put on the field with an Auburn jersey on. Neither will former Auburn players like Zac Etheridge.
I love my Auburn Tigers to death, but this is str8 embarrassment.. Something has to change ASAP!!!— Zac Etheridge (@ZacEtheridge4) November 11, 2012
Results matter and Gene Chizik is not delivering the results that are required with a multi-million dollar contract.