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Report card: Auburn gets better production in road win

Michael Niziolek

mniziolek@ledger-enquirer.com

Auburn defensive back Carlton Davis, No. 18, intercepts a pass in the end zone at Kentucky in Lexington, Ky. on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2015.
(Zach Bland/Auburn Athletics)
Auburn defensive back Carlton Davis, No. 18, intercepts a pass in the end zone at Kentucky in Lexington, Ky. on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2015. (Zach Bland/Auburn Athletics)

Report Card

Offense B: Auburn’s lack of success in the third quarter keeps the offense from getting an A. The Tigers ran 10 plays in the quarter for 13 yards for only one first down. Their 1.3 yards per play was a significant drop off from the first half (6.1 yards per play). Sean White had easily his best game of the season going for 255 yards on 17 of 27 passing. He showed he can stretch the field with a number of long completions to Ricardo Louis. Peyton Barber only averaged 3.5 yards per carry, but the run game did just enough to keep Kentucky’s defense honest.

Defense C-minus: The defense came through in the end by stopping Kentucky at midfield on its final drive, but it wasn’t enough to completely forgive a shaky performance. Auburn allowed a season-high 497 yards, struggling to contain running back Boom Williams and quarterback Patrick Towles. The positives outside of the final minute included an interception by freshman Daniel Carlson, and six tackles for a loss with three sacks.

Special Teams A: Daniel Carlson had a terrific game going 3 for 3 on field goals, and kicking five more touchbacks on six attempts. His 52-yarder at the end of the first half was his third from 50-plus yards on the season, tying a single-season program record. Auburn also benefited from Kevin Phillips dropping two punts inside the 20-yard line, and a 34-yard kick return from Kerryon Johnson.

Coaching C-plus: Auburn’s offense benefited from the extra week of coaching during the bye week. It came out of the gate looking sharp with touchdowns on its first two possessions, but the Tigers struggled against Kentucky’s halftime adjustments. They only had one extended drive in the second half. The defense failed to show improvement in a number of key areas collectively, but Auburn the coaches have made strides with individual players like Daniel Carlson.

Overall B-minus: Coach Gus Malzahn called the 30-27 win over Kentucky the best overall performance of the season. Auburn’s win over Louisville might have been slightly better, but it’s certainly a close call. The first half was definitely the offense’s shining moment, and a step forward for quarterback Sean White, but the defense’s lackluster showing is hard to ignore. Kentucky was only 44 yards away from winning Thursday night’s game.

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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