Starkville, Miss.--It was a rough afternoon for the Auburn Tigers after turning the ball over on each of the first two offensive plays and falling behind early 14-0. Despite getting back in the game thanks to an opportunistic defense and some big plays in the passing game, it was too much to overcome for the Tigers as they left the field with a loss for the first time this season.
It’s not an unfamiliar position for Auburn as the same thing happened a year ago when Auburn lost to LSU, but recovered to win out until a loss to Florida State in the national championship game. While this team is a long way from the one that showed so much resolve last season, there is no question the season is far from over for the 2014 Auburn Tigers.On this day, however, it wasn‘t to be as turnovers, penalties and mistakes proved to be too costly to overcome against a veteran Mississippi State team.
“We struggled in the beginning, but it’s a part of football,” senior defensive tackle Angelo Blackson said. ”We tried our best to get back into it, but we were just too deep in the hole. That‘s a great team. They‘re not ranked number three for a reason. We dug ourselves a hole. We tried our best to get out of it, but it was too late. They were the home team. Usually when you do that against a good team, you lose.”
Auburn never backed down even when things were not going well. That showed in the third quarter when the Tigers cut the Mississippi State lead to eight and got the ball back on two drives with a chance to perhaps tie the game. Even though the offense was unable to finish off the comeback, Blackson said the team showed some resolve in a loss.
“The game is about momentum,” Blackson said. “There are momentum shifts everywhere, but at the end of the day we were just too deep in the hole. We kept on making mistakes and when do that against a great team like that you usually can’t win those.”On offense it was a case of the Tigers being unable to get out of their own way. Even with the early mistakes Auburn had several big plays called back for penalties, two by junior Sammie Coates. It was a frustrating day for the speedster, but he said it’s all about working hard and never giving up.
“We just knew we had to keep playing a keep fighting,” Coates said. “Coach said we were going to have adversity during the game. We knew we had to take over that and keep playing our ball.That’s what we did. We just kept playing.
“We had turnovers as a team,” he added. “We turned the ball over a couple of times and gave them easy points, but we never gave up. We kept on fighting, but when we didn’t score that hurt us a lot. We were still playing good, but had some small mistakes that hurt us.”
With an off-week to get better and prepare for the stretch run in the 2014 season, Auburn has South Carolina coming to Jordan-Hare Stadium in two weeks with a chance to get the second half of the schedule off to a good start. Blackson said it’s all about keeping things in perspective and just continuing to put the work in.
“We’re just going to move forward,” Blackson said. “We’ve got a great challenge in front of us. We’ve got a bye week and South Carolina coming in. We’re just going to prepare for them and take it one game at a time.
“We’ve done this before, but that’s last year’s team,” he added. “We are this year’s team. We’re going to hold our head’s up. We’ve got a great challenge ahead of us. We’re just going to prepare for them and take it to the next level.”