The 2010 Auburn Tigers opened the season with an impressive offensive display against Arkansas State. There were plenty of good things and numerous things to work on, as is usually the case with any season opener. Here's a "report card," outlining how Auburn looked in every facet of the game. Comment and give your own grades!
The offense racked up 608 yards of total offense and scored 52 points, so they definitely performed well. Cam Newton ran for a school record (as a quarterback) 171 yards and was 9-14 for 186 yards. He scored five total touchdowns.
Mario Fannin only had three carries and fumbled the third one. Onterio McCalebb had nine carries for 76 yards, while freshman Michael Dyer had 14 carries for 95 yards. The running game racked up 367 yards and the offensive line had an impressive opening night.
The receiving core as a whole played well, with Quindarius Carr making the biggest plays. He had two catches for 87 yards. Mario Fannin also had two touchdown receptions.
The most concerning parts of the game for the offense were a few pre-snap penalties and the flurry of fumbles in the third quarter. Demond Washington fumbled the opening kickoff of the second half. Then Mario Fannin fumbled on the next offensive play. Then, McCalebb fumbled on the next drive, although it was eventually overturned.
There's plenty to work on, but overall, Auburn's offense again looked like one of the nation's elite, earning them an A- for Week 1.
Things started out a little rocky for the AU defense, but much of that was due to Arkansas State's new offensive coordinator. Ted Roof and the defensive coaches knew very little about what the Red Wolves would actually run.
Having said that, the adjustments could have come a little sooner. Bubble screens and quick hitches led Arkansas State to 323 yards through the air. Auburn did do very well against the run, allowing only 1.2 yards per rush attempt.
Most of the changes to the Auburn defense were successful. Daren Bates started at outside linebacker and recorded a team-high 10 tackles. Zac Etheridge and Aairon Savage made positive returns to starting safety. Antoine Carter appears to be up to the task of replacing Antonio Coleman, recording 2.5 sacks and four tackles.
The starting 11 has a ton of potential to improve this season. Playing base coverages and rarely blitzing, they adjusted well in the second half and shut down the Red Wolves. They'll have to play much better and quicker to slow down the two-quarterback attack of Mississippi State on Thursday.
Special Teams (A-)
Wes Byrum connected on his only field goal. He and Cody Parkey split kickoff duties. Ryan Shoemaker looked solid with some room for improvement on punts. Kick coverages looked much better, which was expected with a full roster this season.
Quindarius Carr successfully caught every punt, which was a relief for Auburn fans everywhere. Demond Washington did some nice things on kick returns, but had a key fumble to start the third quarter. Mike Blanc got a ton of penetration on a blocked extra point in the first quarter.
Overall, Jay Boulware appears to have made improvements. All of the special teams will be tested even more as SEC play begins.
Having the coaching staff intact should pay dividends this season. The offensive players look much more comfortable in Gus Malzahn's offense. Another year with Trooper Taylor has the receivers looking much more explosive.
The main question that came out of Saturday is how effective will the defensive coaching staff be in game planning and adjusting. It will be interesting to see how many different looks Ted Roof throws at Dan Mullen's offense. It should be much different than the constant base defenses that were seen on Saturday night.