Caldwell Column: Auburn's Season On The Brink

What started out as a football season with huge promise has crumbled for the Auburn Tigers in a matter of weeks.

Athens, Ga.--Following a game last week when seemingly everything went wrong for the Auburn Tigers in a loss to Texas A&M at home, Coach Gus Malzahn’s team looked like they had put all that behind them with an impressive first drive for a touchdown Saturday night in Athens.

Then reality set in and it set in hard. This Auburn team just isn’t that good.

Whether it’s penalties, turnovers, missed tackles, alignment problems, communication issues, whatever you want to call them, it all adds up to a group of Tigers that had all of the capabilities to be a special group. Instead they’re going to be remembered as a group that underachieved.

Now there is no question this Auburn offense is still pretty good, but up front the Tigers had problems blocking the Georgia front four all night long and penalties kept them behind the chains seemingly every possession after that first scoring drive.

Cameron Artis-Payne and Nick Marshall battled the entire game and tight end C.J. Uzomah came up with some big catches over the middle, but save for a play here or there it was a night to forget for Malzahn, Rhett Lashlee and company.

On defense it was once again a case of not being able to tackle at the point of attack. Too many misses added up to yards after contact for the Bulldogs, something that showed up against Todd Gurley and Nick Chubb, especially in the second half.

The most glaring issues were again on special teams. If not for penalties the Tigers would have allowed a touchdown on the first kickoff and another on a fake punt at the end of the drive. It didn’t matter as Quan Bray’s fumble set up Georgia’s first score and pumped life into an already dead Sanford Stadium.

They were ready to give up. The Georgia fans had seen this act before. They knew the Bulldogs needed a break and just like they’ve had a problem doing all season long, the Tigers handed them out over and over again on Saturday.

Where do they go from here? That’s a good question and right now there is no answer. Auburn will beat Samford next week, but the odds of this team going to Tuscaloosa and getting a win are very long at the moment unless something drastically changes.

There is no question Auburn has been capable of beating anyone on a given day, but that day has passed for the 2014 Auburn team and it’s sad to see. With an offense capable of scoring points in bunches all they needed was a little help to make this a magical season, but it wasn’t to be.


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