That 4th quarter was something, wasn’t it? By the time the first quarter ended, I was like this:
1. Let me just begin by saying...
Where would we be without the best tight end in America and maybe the best to ever play the position? Rare is the player who can, if you ask him to put a team on his back, actually do just that. Herschel Walker was the last one, IMO. Brock Bowers’ performance in the 4th quarter is one for the ages. I hope he gets the Heisman consideration that he deserves. I wonder how he is in run defense? Probably pretty solid.
2. There are a couple of things you cannot do in this Conference. Turning the ball over on the road is at the top of the list. If you told me before the game we would gift Auburn the ball twice which would lead directly to 14 Auburn points I would probably think that we lost the game. The first gaffe was a Carson Beck interception on a ball intended for Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint. Beck has to throw a better ball to give the receiver better leverage so the defender has to play through him. I still believe there was some interference on that play, but it’ll never get called. The 2nd turnover was totally on Oscar Delp. Coming out of the half you’ve got to make ball protection paramount. The ball he caught in traffic was fine. But when he turned up field, he didn’t protect the pigskin. He has to have more situational awareness in that instance as he had guys closing on him from behind.
3. Auburn came to play, no question. Our offensive line generally held up in pass protection and got better as the game progressed, but I thought the right side of our line really struggled early and often. If you go back and look at our drives, we moved the ball but the turnovers were potential killers of dreams. We’re lucky that Daijun Edwards’ arm was down on our second drive after the half.
4. We had 11 drives in the game, and each drive in today’s new running clock reality is precious. The slow first halves are going to kill us if we don’t fix this. This isn’t about play calling. It’s all about execution. Carson Beck again missed a wide-open Oscar Delp that was running past the linebacker that had him 1-on-1, but threw the ball too flat and wide to the inside. That play was perfectly designed and Beck simply missed it.
5. Auburn can’t throw the ball and the numbers bear this out: 11/20, 88 yards and a 4.4 ypc average. Yet, despite them being one-dimensional defending the run was an issue, especially on the edges. The Georgia line acquitted itself nicely for anything up the middle, but we are still getting beat on the perimeter. Better fix this soon because Kentucky has a hot-shot running back that, at last check, was still running against Florida. The Dawgs gave up 219 rushing, including a mind-boggling 61 yard Payton Thorne scamper around the right side that got them out of a deep hole. We knew what was coming, yet were unable to defend it consistently.
6. Our defense is what it is and I still think we’ve got some guys playing that aren’t 100%, but you have to persevere. It was good too see Javon Bullard back, but is he “fully back?” Auburn’s QB runs by design were very effective, but there were times when Auburn’s QB broke containment because our pass rush was too aggressive and on one occasion we didn’t have a “spy” to keep the middle of the field honest, which resulted in a long run on 3rd and 9.
7. How many points do we give up if we don’t turn the ball over? Hard to say, but Auburn’s first TD drive was only 48 yards; their second after Delp’s fumble was 32 yards on 3 plays. The Tigers had 11 drives themselves and had to punt 5 times. Twice, they turned the ball over on downs (that 4th down stop at the Georgia 12 yard line was huge), and kicked 2 field goals. Yeah, turnovers could’a killed us. Perhaps they should’a killed us. But they didn’t.
8. You’re probably thinking at this point, “Jeez, Dave. Why are you writing what seems like a script for an Irwin Allen disaster movie?”
Yes, there were a lot of positives in this game. Number 1 - Brock Bowers, of course. But Carson Beck I think really matured in this game and showed great poise, especially in the 4th quarter with everything on the line, in an incredibly hostile environment. You can’t simulate this in practice, I don’t care how many speakers you blow. I’m sure when the film is analyzed we’ll more missed opportunities, but his numbers were solid: 22/33, 313 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT. Beck was 8 of 13 on 3rd down and when he had to move the pocket, he did. That was clutch. If the light really comes in for Beck, he’ll hit those long throws. Instead of aiming the pass, he’ll just throw it.
8a. Auburn flopping is a tactic that Hugh Freeze loves to employ. He didn’t disappoint. Something has got to be done about this because it does affect the game.
hope he’s ok pic.twitter.com/p0vY0daDWP— no context college football (@nocontextcfb) September 30, 2023
9. How great was it to see Ladd McConkey back? He made 3 key 3rd down catches, with 38 yards on 4 receptions. Going forward, as he rounds back into form, this should boost the passing game. And we are going to have to lean on throwing the ball more as we are really missing the bigger backs on the roster that are still wounded.
10. Rara Thomas and Dom Lovett got involved as well, but Auburn really blanketed the deep throws, daring Beck to find the underneath routes. When you have Brock Bowers on your team, that ultimately proved to be unwise. Arian Smith didn’t record a single catch. He’s largely gone missing in this offense.
11. Smael Mondon, Jr. led the team with 11 tackles, 7 solo, 1 sack and one TFL. Javon Bullard had 10 tackles and nine solo. That’s a bit scary when your safety has to get that involved. Mykel Williams had a single tackle. Auburn largely avoided his side of the field.
Kirby Smart: “I don’t know how good of a team we have … I really don’t.”— Anthony Dasher (@AnthonyDasher1) September 30, 2023
12. What does a good team look like in 2023, anyway? Is it the Southern Cal team that nearly let Colorado come back after racing out to a big lead? Is it Oregon or Washington, a couple of teams that seem to be humming? Is it Texas that outgunned a Kansas squad that was missing their starting QB? Maybe Oklahoma? Are we a good team but could grow into a really good team? I’m not even thinking about a 3-peat at this moment (well...okay maybe a little). I want to see us improve in those areas of the game that are deficient.
13. Shoutout to Peyton Woodring. He was clutch when we needed him to be, nailing both field goals (long of 38) and was 3/3 on extra points. Whatever they worked on in practice did the trick. Brett Thorson punted 3 times and was very effective in pinning Auburn deep on 2 occasions. We could’ve had them down inside their 1 yard line, but couldn’t keep the ball out of the end zone.
14. Despite the hiccups we saw on Saturday, it will never, ever get old beating Auburn. I don’t care if it’s in our house, in Piedmont Park or at Jordan-Hare. Auburn is that school that you just never want to lose to. Mission accomplished.
Game over, WarTigersPlainsEagles
15. Kentucky is up next and this team has some talent on both side of the ball. Running back Ray Davis carved up Florida’s defense to the tune of 280 yards and the Gators had absolutely no answer. Kentucky’s passing game is suspect. Devin Leary was 9/19 for 69 yards against the Gators with a single touchdown and from what I saw he isn’t entirely accurate. Hmmm....sounds a lot like Auburn.
Kentucky is going to run the ball first, just like the Tigers. There’s no sugarcoating it. Our run defense is suspect. Can we make the necessary adjustments going into next Saturday in Sanford Stadium? Could this game turn into a shooting match? It’ll be a 7:00 kickoff and the crowd is going to have to bring it. The Vegas line has opened up at Dawgs -17. Really?
I’m just glad we won. It wasn’t pretty for the better part of 3 quarters, but I think we found something late in that game on both sides of the ball. If you’re going to beat this Georgia team that is far from perfect, you’re going to have to knock us completely out when we are down. Auburn failed to do this. We still have a champion’s heart.
I’m glad Kirby preaches composure. Now, if we could compose a few more first quarter scoring drives I’d feel better.
- I never thought in a million years that LSU would be Lane Kiffin’s first “signature victory.” How bad are both defenses? Ole Miss won a thriller. That game actually deserved to be decided in about 8 overtimes...
Security or LSU’s defense? pic.twitter.com/fNbf6JC0b0— Bunkie Perkins (@BunkiePerkins) October 1, 2023
- Tech lost to Bowling Green. They were a 22 point favorite and lost by 11.
- Florida went from hope to horror in the blink of a Ray Davis 75 yard touchdown run, which came right after the Gators were flagged for 15 yards on a “leaping the pile” penalty after stopping Kentucky fairly deep on 4th down and forcing a UK punt. Hey, Gators. Please save some of that stupidity for our game. We might need it.
Kentucky finally recorded a win against a quality opponent, but JJ Weaver doesn’t think Florida is that good.— Nick Roush (@RoushKSR) September 30, 2023
“I already knew Florida wasn’t ready for us.” pic.twitter.com/1kYnlrY9D5
- I saw Tennessee’s Bru McCoy break his leg (or, whatever his injury is revealed to be) last night. I hate seeing that for any college player not named Nick Fairley. Hope he’s okay.
That’s all I’ve got.