Auburn Football Report Card: Grading The Tigers' Win Over Clemson

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Auburn Football Report Card: Grading The Tigers' Win Over Clemson
Eric Smith celebrates with fans after Auburn beat Clemson. (Hal Yeager/Birmingham News)

Last night, Auburn trailed Clemson 17-0 after a diving catch by Jamie Harper. A field goal to end the half made it 17-3 in favor of Clemson.

If Tommy Tuberville were the coach, there is no way Auburn comes back to win. But this is the Gene Chizik era. Halftime adjustments were made, and the second half belonged to the SEC Tigers. A few penalties and overturned calls later,  No. 16 Auburn won in OT, 27-24.

Auburn fans have to admit, Clemson

I will have to give multiple grades for some of the units, because the game itself was definitely a tale of two halves.


Offense:
First Half: D- Second Half: B+

In the first half, Auburn had just over 110 yards of total offense, a turnover, and didn't pick up a first down until there was under nine minutes left in the second quarter.

So what keeps it from being an F? Well, Auburn moved the ball quickly late in the half, and a Wes Byrum field goal as time expired put Auburn on the board at last. As it turns out, that field goal could have been the difference between an overtime victory or a regulation defeat.

In the second half, Auburn's offense looked completely different, especially in the third quarter. After scoring just three points in the first half, Auburn caught on fire. Auburn moved the ball on the opening drive before a great interception by Clemson.

After Auburn held them in check, they got the ball back and Onterio McCalebb scored Auburn's first touchdown of the night. Cam Newton then found Darvin Adams from eight yards out and Terrell Zachery from 78 yards.

Auburn picked up over 300 yards of offense after halftime and ended with 424. Auburn's offense came alive in the second half and got Auburn back in the game and, eventually, gave Auburn the lead and the points needed for victory.


Defense:
First Half: C- Second Half: A-

In the first half, Auburn's defense made a few plays, such as stopping Clemson on 4th-and-1, but they for the most part were picked apart. Clemson had 17 first downs in the first half and scored 17 as well. Auburn luckily made halftime adjustments.

The second half and overtime were a completely different story. Auburn gave up just seven points and 10 first downs in the second half and overtime combined. Stopping Clemson on 3rd-and-5 inside the Auburn 10-yard line in OT was the biggest play of the season for Auburn's defense, who turned in a pretty solid effort last night.


Special Teams:
A

Outside of a shanked punt by Ryan Shoemaker in the fourth (Auburn's defense would push Clemson backwards anyways), this unit was solid. Demond Washington had some terrific returns. Wes Byrum went 2-for-2 and made the eventual game-winner in OT.

Clemson missed their overtime field goal. Clemson never had a big return on punts or kickoffs. Carr did not even come close to muffing a punt. A great night for the special teams.


Coaching:
First Half: C- Second Half: A

In the first half, coaching was definitely not a strength on Auburn's "off night." Dabo Swinney outcoached Chizik in the first half, and Auburn trailed 17-3.

Now, I don't know what Chizik said to his players at halftime, but it worked. Auburn rebounded to win the game in overtime, and Chizik's ability to make adjustments was a big reason for that.


Officiating:
D+

This ACC crew was not very good at all. They called stupid penalties on Auburn. They came close to calling offsides on Auburn in OT, but one ref saw the illegal snap. I'm not taking anything away from Clemson, they have a great team and the game was exactly what it looked like. But these refs...basically...sucked.


Clock Mechanics:
First Quarter: F Rest of Game: A+

The clock had some serious issues in the first quarter, but that was eventually cleaned up.


Overall:
A-

Folks, the heart and character of this team is unbelievable. Down 17-0 in the second quarter, Auburn shows heart and bravery and comes all the way back to win a huge game that is featured by ESPN's College GameDay. It was a classic matchup between two good teams, but in the end, Auburn wins with the nation watching.

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