Auburn (3-0) found themselves in a hole early. For most of the first two quarters Auburn's offensive line was being dominated by the Clemson front four. The Tigers were down 17-0, and honestly looked clueless as to why.
Cameron Newton made some passes that had me questioning his true potential. We know he's a big guy with a good looking pass, but that's not the issue. The problem seemed to be when Auburn wanted to spread the field. Newton locked onto the target keying the defense to the receiver.
When Newton has had to go 30-plus yards with a pass, it really hasn't looked good.
Gus Malzahn who is widely known for being a offensive guru, made the Clemson defense look full of All-Americans.
I understand going up the middle heavy to open the outside. But, that wasn't what was happening. There was a weak looking fake to the running back, and the slow end around that Clemson seemed to expect.
When they dialed up Dyer in the backfield the defensive line was killing the Auburn offensive line. Micheal Dyer is good and getting better, but when the blocking fails him like it did at times in this game, he can't be successful.
After the game Chizik made the comment that Clemson caught Auburn off guard with their approach to start the game. If that's true it took the Tigers way too long to figure them out.
The fact is, Clemson wasn't using much deception in their play calling. Auburn's line up front was playing on their heals and the Clemson running game was exploding off of the blocks taking it to the front four.
When Auburn tried to use force to drive the ball, the offensive line was being knocked into the backfield. When you lose the battle up front, you're not going to win big SEC games.
I thought the drive before halftime that made the score 17-3 was huge for the momentum we found in the second half. Having some points on the board gave the team something to build on, and some important adjustments were made.
Auburn was still losing up front, but not nearly as much as they had been. There was clearly a more aggressive Auburn team in the second half, and when the game turned brutal Auburn benefited.
The best thing that happened for Auburn was their commitment to block in the second half. Without that taking place, the 21-point comeback wouldn't have been possible.
The fact that Malzahn opened it up played a big factor too. It really is difficult to determine what he was trying to do early, because the line was getting beaten badly. Maybe with better protection some of the first half plays would've worked better.
|Third Down Efficiency||6-16||5-13|
|Fourth Down Efficiency||0-1||0-0|
|Kick Return Yds||47||123|
|Punt Return Yds||15||6|
|Time of Poss.||34:20||25:40|
The game clock being messed up in the first quarter didn't do the Auburn offense any favors. However, when you're going three and out, it really doesn't matter much.
I expected the run defense to hold Clemson's running backs to around the 100-yard mark. I did not expect to see Andre Ellington go for 140 on 22 carries.
Chizik asked earlier in the week if all the fans would wear blue. He really hoped to use the home field advantage against Clemson. Surprisingly, it never seemed to affect them.
South Carolina comes into Auburn next week but, the way we've played so far we will not be good enough to beat them. I really hope to see Mario Fannin back, it was obvious we needed him in the backfield.
On the bright side, Auburn did get the chance early in the season to learn how to win the close games. From this point forward if they fall behind, the belief is that a comeback is possible.