Well that’s eight quarters in the books and none of them have been much fun, actually, none have been fun.
Let’s start with the keys to the game identified earlier in the week.
Explosive plays. Red Wolves did OK there with four passing plays of 30 or more yards but only one in the first half when it might have been relevant.
Move the chains. The Red Wolves managed at least one first down on the first three possessions but finished the game with only 14, only one more than last week. On third down 5 of 16 is only a minor improvement over last week’s 3 of 16.
Find a pass rush. One sack and three QB hurries is an improvement over last week but not what was needed to be successful.
Keep the score low. 51 is only low if we are talking basketball.
Few bright spots.
Chad Voytik completed just over 70% of his passes going 15 of 21 for 215 yards, no TD’s but no picks.He scored both of AState's TD's rushing and converted a fourth down rushing. I felt like he demonstrated toughness and leadership. Once again we saw some inexplicable drops and mis-run routes that hampered the performance.
Chris Booker had the night’s biggest play. The December juco demonstrated good speed picking up yards after the catch. Blake Mack again made it clear he plays to the final horn.
Woodson-Luster led in tackles and like last week Kyle Wilson had a nice night with 9 tackles including one for loss.
With Johnston White hurt and the injury to Armond Weh-Weh, Logan Morange proved a serviceable two back with three carries for 10 yards and a reception for 11.
Armond Weh-Weh had an 18-yard reception that was wiped out by a penalty and he was injured on the play. No official word yet but it didn’t look good, nor did the injury to Turnage.
Cameron Echols-Luper had five touches on offense and four resulted in one yard or less. His sole kickoff return was 25 yards, the same result as taking a knee.
AState was flagged 10 times after drawing only six flags against Toledo.
The AState defense was disappointing. The more veteran group for the Red Wolves was flagged six times during the game. Auburn was never forced to punt. The Tigers had 32 first downs, the most for Auburn since 33 first downs in 2004 and that was against an FCS school. Auburn had eight red zone possessions and the only one that did not result in points was the final possession when Auburn took a knee. Auburn’s first half third down conversion rate was the best since an FCS game in 2013.
About that fake kick
It is easy to be mad about Gus running the fake field goal but the reality of college football is coaches rarely run plays like that unless they see you doing something on video that they can exploit. It is much better for the Red Wolves to get burned by Gus in a game that was lost and learn from what happened instead of having Georgia Southern or Louisiana-Lafayette exploit the problem in a close game.
Wrapping it up.
The offense is full of newcomers and as we saw in 2013, a grad transfer QB can be an issue in getting an offense to jell. We saw progress on offense and I’m not too worried about the offense unless we end up in a situation where we are needing a lot of RB production from Morange.
The defense? Just completely disappointing.
Opposing offenses have had 24 possessions and only three ended with a punt and three with a turnover. Opponent offenses have been stopped only once in every four possessions. Yards after contact remained a big problem, best illustrated by Auburn’s first touchdown when an apparent tackle for loss became a 47-yard touchdown.
Last year USC and Toledo combined for 986 yards and 92 points. This year Auburn and Toledo combined for 1262 yards and 82 points. The AState defense has to become more effective on initial contact, improve the pass rush and defend passes better or much of the season will be a struggle.