Game two, a 17-3 loss to a less than impressive Georgia Tech team, left the Tigers looking for answers as they left newly renovated Bobby Dodd Stadium at Grant Field. With SEC play a week away with a road trip to Vandy, the Auburn offense is obviously in need of renovation after reaching the eight quarter mark without a touchdown.
"Obviously, if you can't score points you can't win ball games," said Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville. "We struggled all day. I give credit to Georgia Tech and Coach (Chan) Gailey. They got after us from the word go.
"We saw basically the same thing we saw last week on defense--guys flying around making plays. We didn't step up and make plays.
The renewal of the Tigers vs. Tech rivalry, which hasn't been played since 1987, was a defensive struggle for most of the game. The Yellow Jackets netted just 230 yards of total offense and Auburn had 21 more, but couldn't punch the ball in the end zone.
"We have a good football team, but we are not playing like a good football team right now and that starts with me," Tuberville said. "I have got to get the job done and we are going to get the job done starting next week."
Memories of week's two game will be centered around dropped passes, inconsistent pass protection and the defense not making enough big plays to cause problems for true freshman Tech quarterback Reggie Ball. He hit just 9-21 passes for 149 yards, but he didn't throw an interception and he was sacked just once. In contrast, the Yellow Jackets' blitzing defense put Jason Campbell down seven times for sacks.
Tech scored quickly as Ball looked deep on his first play and hit a 54-yard bomb to Nate Curry to just outside the Tigers' 10. Three plays later, Ball badly overthrew his receiver in the end zone and the Yellow Jackets had to settle for a 22-yard field goal and a 3-0 lead.
Auburn's scoring drought lasted deep into the second quarter, but the Tigers were down by 10 before they finally got on the scoreboard. The Yellow Jackets took advantage of a mishandled snap to set up the first touchdown drive of the game. Two plays earlier Auburn had picked up its first turnover of the season when Demarco McNeil recovered a fumble on a reverse.
Converting two fourth down and one plays, including a fake punt that gained three yards, the Jackets drove 50 yards on 12 plays to take a 10-0 lead with 6:37 left in the half. Tailback P. J. Daniels scored on first and goal just outside the one after a QB keeper by Ball the previous played gained 12 yards to set up the score.
Auburn definitely needed a score before halftime. The Tigers kept the ball for 15 plays and 59 yards before settling on a 22-yard field goal by freshman John Vaughn.
The Tigers mixed the running of Ronnie Brown and short passes to move deep into Tech territory. Tech helped the Tigers by jumping offsides on fourth and less than one to give the Tigers a first and goal at the Tech seven. However, a two-yard run was followed by two incomplete passes and the Tigers took the field goal with 33 seconds left in the half.
Auburn stops quarterback Reggie Ball on a fourth and one play in the third quarter.
It wasn't a turnover, but it could have had the same effect when the Tigers stopped the Yellow Jackets on a fourth and one gamble at the GT 42. A QB sneak came up just short, but Auburn couldn't move the ball. On first down Campbell missed open tight end Cooper Wallace. Carnell Williams got nine yards on a run, but was stopped for a four yard loss to set up fourth and five. AU tried to pass, but Campbell was leveled by blitzing linebacker Darryl Smith to bail out Coach Chan Gailey's risky gamble.
The home team stretched its lead two two touchdowns by taking advantage of great field position. The Jackets moved 34 yards on three plays after a 15-yard facemask penalty. Ball hit a 26-yard pass to Mark Logan over Donnay Young and Will Herring.
Auburn struggled to move the chains in the third quarter. The Tigers did a little better out of a no huddle set in the fourth period, but again failed to make enough big plays to put the ball into the end zone. What was Auburn's last chance to get back into the game ended in frustration after the Tigers drove from their own 33 to first and goal at the Tech nine on a 20-yard pass to Courtney Taylor. Tre Smith then lost three on a run, Campbell lost 13 on a sack and two incomplete passes ended the threat.
Both teams struggled on third down much of the day. Auburn converted just four of 17 tries while Tech made two of 13. Auburn was two of four on fourth downs while Tech was two of three.
"They didn't do anything we didn't expect," Campbell said. "We kept shooting ourselves in the foot. We were going backwards on first and third downs. We have got to get over the hump.
Campbell said it is his job to be a leader and stay mentally tough as the Tigers try to get their act together. "I am pretty sure everything will get better," he said. Campbell completed 20-33 passes for 190 yards with one interception. The rushing game numbers were even less impressive. The Tigers netted just 40 yards on 38 carries.
Campbell said his team is in a hole now. "If I know the heart of this team, it will come out of the hole."
Tech's quarterback, who said he was waiting on a call from Auburn to be a Tiger, said that keeping mistakes to a minimum was big. "How many turnovers did we have last week?" he asked. "Four. How many did we have this week. None, one. That makes a big difference. We moved the ball last week, but made some mistakes. This week we didn't."
Tech coach Chan Gailey said, "I have to give credit to (defensive coordinator) John Tenuta and his staff for the scheme they came up with being out-sized manwise to stop the running game. That is just an amazing job. We let them move a little bit, but they never could get it down in the end zone. Secondly, you have to give a ton of credit to our players who performed. I knew they played. I challenged them to play smart."
Auburn opens SEC play next Saturday with an 11:30 a.m. CDT game at Vanderbilt in Nashville.