Georgia vs. Auburn: 10 Things We Learned in Tigers' Win
To say the Auburn Tigers escaped with a win in the "Deep South's Oldest Rivalry" would be an understatement. But that's exactly what they did as a 4th-and-18 Hail Mary pass was completed for a 73-yard touchdown as the Tigers beat the Georgia Bulldogs, 43-38.
Auburn owned the first half, but Georgia was able to fight its way back in the second half.
There were a lot of good things that happened for the Tigers but also a few not-so-good things.
Here are 10 things we learned about the Tigers from their game against Georgia.
They Are Extremely Lucky
While the Tigers did a lot of things right that helped them win the game, the fact remains, had the Georgia secondary not tipped Nick Marshall's 4th-and-18 pass, the Bulldogs would have won the game.
Luckily for Auburn, the tipped pass fell right into the hands of Ricardo Louis, who took it in for the touchdown.
The fourth quarter was all about Georgia as they outmuscled the Tigers.
Prior to the 73-yard completion, the Tigers had amassed just 20 yards in the entire quarter. Georgia had them in a 4th-and-long, and the Tigers were able to convert.
It goes down as a win for the Tigers, but it's one that should have never happened.
Auburn Can't Get Away from the Run
Auburn had a lot of success running the ball, totaling 323 yards in the game. However, the Tigers only had seven rushing yards in the fourth quarter.
Penalties were part of the issue, but Auburn was also throwing the ball more than it should have with a 17-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Tre Mason did his part on the ground, gaining 115 yards. The veer/read-option/sweep look kept Georgia off balance all game. Had Auburn stayed with it throughout, the game wouldn't have been as close as it was.
Nick Marshall Needs More Work in Pressure Situations
While the Tigers did get away from the running game, which they shouldn't have, Nick Marshall still has to be better in pressure situations.
He was missing his targets left and right. Had it not been for the tipped pass on the go-ahead touchdown pass, Marshall would have overshot Ricardo Louis.
Marshall is a great talent when it comes to leading Auburn in the read-option game. But when it comes to making critical passes accurately, he still has a lot of work to do.
Auburn Secondary Has Holes
Aaron Murray picked apart the Auburn secondary all game, completing 33 of 49 passes for 415 yards.
Auburn seemed to focus a lot on Georgia's running game. While the Bulldogs didn't get much on the ground, they were able to do a lot through the air, allowing them to get back into the game.
If the Tigers are going to load up the box, the Auburn secondary has to step up to make more plays. They did get an interception in the first half, but where were they in the second half?
Murray could do whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted with the ball. Luckily for the Tigers, the defensive front got enough pressure on Murray on the final play of the game to secure the win.
The Read-Option Sweep Is Deadly
The reason Auburn has a lot of success running the ball is because they have so much going on in the backfield.
While Nick Marshall has the ball in the belly of his running back on a read-option, another player is coming across the formation for a sweep.
Regardless, it's a read-option call, linebackers are having to move with the player going in motion for the sweep. That opens up the middle for the running back in the backfield. It was a huge reason why Mason had such a big hole on his 24-yard touchdown run. Georgia's linebackers collapsed on the sweep man, and Auburn made them pay.
For Gus Malzahn, it's a scheme that has worked and one that will continue to be deadly.
Front Seven Can Stop a Deadly Running Back
While Todd Gurley did have some success running the football in the fourth quarter, the Auburn front seven did a great job at holding him down through the first three quarters.
He was limited to 79 yards on the ground with 36 of those yards coming in the fourth quarter.
The front seven has shown it can stop a good running back, which should provide confidence as the Tigers head into their game with Alabama and T.J. Yeldon.
The only question is, can the secondary hold its own if the front seven is stopping the run?
Dee Ford Is a Legitimate NFL Prospect
Although he only got one quarterback sack on the game, Dee Ford was constantly in the backfield harassing Aaron Murray. In total, he had six quarterback hits.
Ford has 14 quarterback hits on the season, 11.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks.
Ford may not be on many people's radar as far as being an NFL prospect, but he has shown this year that he has the ability to play at the next level.
A good showing at the NFL combine and on his pro day could very well land him on an NFL roster by the time the draft rolls around.
Gus Malzahn Is a Coach of the Year Candidate
Having picked up his 10th win of the season, Gus Malzahn is now the front-runner for coach of the year.
Of course, there will be many who point to David Cutcliffe at Duke, but it's hard to argue with Malzahn and how he's turned the program around.
Nobody thought Auburn would be having this good of a season a year after letting Gene Chizik go. But it goes to show you who was the real brains of the operation when Auburn won the national title in 2010.
If Auburn beats Alabama, then there's no question Malzahn gets the award. If he doesn't beat the Crimson Tide, I still like his chances.
Auburn Can't Settle for Field Goals
Auburn had to settle for field-goal attempts four times against Georgia—three of which they made.
The first one came on the first drive of the game after the Tigers had a 1st-and-goal from the 7-yard line. The next three also came inside the red zone.
Auburn has to convert red-zone opportunities, especially when it comes to its game with Alabama. The Tide will take advantage of Auburn only settling for three points.
The bottom line is, if Auburn had pushed just one of those four red-zone opportunities into the end zone, the game wouldn't have needed a climatic ending.
Auburn Plays Alabama for the Right to Play in Atlanta
With the win, this year's game with Alabama will be the biggest Iron Bowl in recent memory.
Not only will a win put the Tigers into the SEC Championship Game, but it will also end Alabama's hopes of a third straight national championship. For Auburn fans, there would be nothing sweeter to see than that.
The stakes are high in this game, and it's something neither team will have trouble getting ready for. Alabama and Auburn is one of the best rivalries in all of college football, and it will show on Nov. 30.
Auburn gave itself a chance at the SEC title by beating Georgia. Now all the Tigers have to do is win one more game against their biggest rival.