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Report card: Auburn’s uneven performance against Mississippi St. barely passes muster

Michael Niziolek

mniziolek@ledger-enquirer.com

Report Card

Offense C minus: Zero touchdowns might normally qualify for a failing grade, but Auburn threw a redshirt freshman into the fire who performed admirably. Sean White looked comfortable in the pocket, threw with accuracy and didn’t make very many glaring errors outside of an interception. The offense moved the ball consistently outside the red zone, and maintained possession for long stretches. Peyton Barber and Kerryon Johnson complimented each other nicely in the backfield, and White involved a number of the team’s receivers. With a first-year starter at the helm, it wasn’t the disaster many worried it might be.

Defense C minus: A more uneven performance than the offense thanks to a dreadful first half. Dak Prescott picked the secondary apart for 30 minutes, and was on the verge of putting his team up by three touchdowns when Auburn forced a fumble in the third quarter. The Tigers came through with some nice stops in the second half, but the complete lack of a pass rush is becoming more of an issue with each passing week. The team has now gone eight quarters without a sack on the quarterback.

Special Teams B: Daniel Carlson missed a chip shot field goal, but connected on all three of his attempts in the second half including a 51-yarder. The punt team was called for an illegal formation, but the coaching staff should get most of the blame for trying to trick the defense with a funky look instead of just kicking the ball. No standouts in the kick return game, but no holes in coverage either.  

Coaching D: The offensive coaching staff gets some credit for how prepared Sean White was on Saturday night, and Will Muschamp made key adjustments to get the defense going coming out of halftime, but it wasn’t a very well coached game for Auburn. The team was called for an illegal substitution penalty for a second straight week, the coaches made a series of strange calls on fourth down plays throughout the game and used poor judgment on when to try gimmick plays.

Overall D: When Mississippi State was on the brink of pulling away, Auburn buckled down to make it a competitive game. Should a team that considered itself a national title contender get credit for not getting blown out at home? Probably not, but coming off the embarrassment last week against LSU, Saturday’s performance was a step in the right direction.

Michael Niziolek covers Auburn football for the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. Email him at mniziolek@ledger-enquirer.com or follow him on Twitter, Facebook or Google+

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