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Report Card: Victory shows Auburn still has pulse heading into bye week

Michael Niziolek

mniziolek@ledger-enquirer.com

Auburn running back Peyton Barber (25) runs the ball after attempting a stiff arm at San Jose State cornerback Jimmy Pruitt (8) during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015, in Auburn, Ala. Auburn won 35-21.
Auburn running back Peyton Barber (25) runs the ball after attempting a stiff arm at San Jose State cornerback Jimmy Pruitt (8) during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015, in Auburn, Ala. Auburn won 35-21. AP Photo

Report Card

Offense B: The overall effectiveness of Auburn’s offense Saturday night is debatable. The Tigers averaged 4.9 yards per carry, but it jumped up with two long carries by Peyton Barber late in the game. Sean White was largely a non-factor outside a long completion to Ricardo Louis. Jason Smith dropped a sure touchdown early in the second quarter. Auburn tried to use Kerryon Johnson in the wildcat with very minimal success. The lack of mistakes- turnovers, and penalties – was a positive.

Defense C: The defense always looked on the verge of letting San Jose State back in the game. It allowed more than 400 total yards, and Spartans running back Tyler Ervin averaged 5.9 yards per carry. The four turnovers Auburn forced helped mask the problems in the Tigers’ performance.

Special Teams B: Kevin Phillips might be the best punter in the SEC. After the offense went three-and-out on its first drive, Phillips dropped a punt inside the 5-yard line. His two punts averaged 40.5 yards, and both were inside the 20. Auburn benefited from three long kick returns – two from Rudy Ford, and one from Blake Countess. The only negative was a pair of missed field goals from Daniel Carlson including a chip shot from 25-yards.

Coaching B: Auburn didn’t deviate from its offensive game plan, but it didn’t need to. Fans might have liked to see more from the offense, but it’s hard to argue with the results. The coaching staff made strides to clean up a significant number of negatives from the previous week’s loss to Mississippi State.

Overall C: Auburn’s 35-21 win over San Jose State isn’t going to convince anyone that the Tigers are ready to contend for a SEC title, but as coach Gus Malzahn said there are “bright spots.” Auburn takes a victory into a bye week with a chance to gain some momentum into the most challenging portion of its schedule.

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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