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Report card: Auburn not good enough to take advantage of Ole Miss’ mistakes

Michael Niziolek

mniziolek@ledger-enquirer.com

Auburn QB Sean White (13) attempts a pass against Ole Miss on Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015.
(Zach Bland/Auburn Athletics)
Auburn QB Sean White (13) attempts a pass against Ole Miss on Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015. (Zach Bland/Auburn Athletics)

Report Card

Offense C-minus: Every time Auburn’s offense looks poised for a breakthrough, it seems to take a step back. The lack of success in the red zone was similar to the way the team played in Sean White’s first start against Mississippi State. The Tigers were 2 of 15 on third downs, a stat Auburn coach Gus Malzahn flagged as a difference maker in his post-game press conference.

Defense C: Auburn gave up a season-high 558 yards, so how is its grade higher than last week? Ole Miss is that talented of an offense. The Rebels have only had less than 450 total yards of offense twice this season. The Tigers’ defense made enough plays for the team to win. It forced two turnovers, pressured quarterback Chad Kelly and only allowed two plays of more than 30 yards against an explosive group of skill position players. Carl Lawson’s return to the lineup helped pave the way for an improved effort.

Special Teams A: Auburn lack of consistency isn’t spilling over to special teams. Daniel Carlson set a new Auburn record with his fourth field goal from 50-yards or longer. He was a perfect 4 for 4 on the afternoon – he also hit field goals from 33, 26 and 23 yards -- and was also perfect on kickoffs with six touchbacks on six attempts. Kevin Phillips had another strong outing with an average of 45.6 yards on five punts, and landed one inside the 20-yard line.  

Coaching D: Auburn coach Gus Malzahn tried to do his best to explain some of the odd decisions he made Saturday, but the Tigers’ suspect play-calling on offense is an issue. Sean White might have been at less than a 100 percent, but Malzahn’s use of a shaky Jeremy Johnson slowed the offense down, and the coach’s red zone play calling resulted in zero touchdowns in three attempts.

Overall D: Auburn might be able to “play with anybody” as Malzahn said in his post-game press conference, but right now it can’t beat anybody either. Ole Miss is a talented team, but the Tigers failed numerous times in the second half to take advantage of the Rebels’ mistakes to jump into the lead.

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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