Auburn Spring Game 2014: Live Game Grades and Analysis

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Auburn Spring Game 2014: Live Game Grades and Analysis
USA TODAY Sports

The final whistle has blown on the Plains in Saturday's A-Day game between the Auburn Tigers' blue (starters) and white (backups) squads.

The starters were in cruise control at the break as Gus Malzahn's offense has showed no signs of slowing down from last year's SEC Championship season. Auburn's first team then rested for an entire running-clock second half, as Jeremy Johnson led the offense to a pair of passing touchdowns against the third-string Tigers.

Check out the final analysis and grades of the first-team performance right here.

Blue 58, White 3, final

 

Auburn Tigers Team Grades
Positional Unit Halftime Grade Final Grade
Pass Offense A A
Run Offense A A
Pass Defense B B
Run Defense A A
Special Teams B B

Auburn 2014 A-Day Game

 

USA TODAY Sports

First-half analysis for the Auburn Tigers

Pass Offense

Malzahn has constantly said the Tigers were going to throw the ball more in 2014, and he showed it from the opening snap of A-Day.

Nick Marshall has thrown for 236 yards and four touchdowns in the first half, including a couple of fine touch passes to Sammie Coates and D'haquille Williams. Marshall struggled with his accuracy on his deep balls in the first quarter, but he has since recovered to show off how much his arm has improved this offseason.

 

Run Offense 

If you are looking for separation in the running back race, you are not going to find it in the first half of Saturday's game. The bruising Cameron Artis-Payne is just shy of the century mark in rushing yards, while speedster Corey Grant has 128 yards on just five carries.

The only negative of the day so far has been Peyton Barber, who fumbled and injured his knee on his first carry. Barber, the third player in the race, was carted off the field.

 

Pass Defense 

Secondary newcomers Derrick Moncrief and Trovon Reed have been close to some big defensive plays in the first half by playing aggressive on backup quarterback Jeremy Johnson's throws. There have been a few blown coverages that have led to easy conversions for the white offense, but the first-team secondary has been a pleasant surprise against Johnson Saturday.

 

Run Defense 

The run defense got an unfortunate boost when Barber left early with his knee injury, leaving the first team to go up against third-string running backs Patrick Lymon and Lawyer Tillman. Auburn's defense has done a great job of keeping the backs from getting into the second level, but the performance needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

 

Special Teams 

Daniel Carlson missed an early extra point in his Auburn debut but was able to follow it up with a 50-yard field goal. New punter Jimmy Hutchinson is averaging 40 yards per punt as the special teams are not going live in Saturday's game.

USA TODAY Sports

 

Final analysis for the Auburn Tigers

Pass Offense 

After Marshall's day ended late in the first half, Jeremy Johnson came in relief as blue-team quarterback. He started off shaky, but he found Tony Stevens for a long touchdown pass midway through the third quarter. Both quarterbacks got over some early jitters with the deep ball to have great games throwing to a first-team receiving unit that got excellent separation from the jump on Saturday.

 

Run Offense 

No one stood out at running back after Artis-Payne and Grant's departure at halftime, but the two leading candidates for the starting job excelled at A-Day.

The seniors each showed some versatility they had been talking about all spring with Artis-Payne pulling off a few open-field moves and Grant lowering his head for some contact. Although they want separation in the race, Saturday's performance was a great showcase for the "running back by committee" look for 2014.

 

Pass Defense 

Despite the impressive early performances from Moncrief and Reed, the Auburn first-team defense missed a few chances to record interceptions in this game. The Tigers still showed some weaknesses on 3rd-and-long in coverage, but there was not too much to complain about for Auburn fans.

 

Run Defense 

None of Auburn's reserve running backs were able to get into the second level all game long, thanks to an impressive performance from the run defense. Kenny Flowers was a surprise with his MVP-caliber performance, leading the blue team in tackles while also recording a sack.

 

Special Teams 

Carlson missed a 51-yard field goal in the second half after hitting a 50-yard kick in the first half. There were no slipups from Hutchinson in the punting game, as he consistently boomed 40-yard punts against a frozen punt-return team.

 

Justin Ferguson is Bleacher Report's lead Auburn writer. Follow him on Twitter @JFergusonAU. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

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