During the 2019 football season, The Villager will run comments from a focus group on results of the previous Auburn University game and a prognostication for the upcoming game. We’ve collectively labeled the group, Panel of Wanna-Be Experts, or POWE! for short.
Here are the panel's comments for the Tigers' nonconference matchup against Kent State:
Auburn is slowly improving in all aspects of their game. The starts show a respectable 380 total yards, with 45 rushes for 172 (3.8 per carry) and 207 yards passing on 37 passes and 19 completions (51 percent). Those were good numbers, but we were not playing a strong opponent.
Next week should even be a weaker opponent in Kent State. They lost 30 to 17 to Arizona State and beat Kennesaw State 26-23 in overtime.
We need to improve on all aspects of the game as SEC play will begin after Kent State. The offense must be confident and polished when they go on the road to Texas A&M on September 21. They need to concentrate on improving the running game, using two or three different backs, and throwing more short passes to numerous receivers.
If our defense has a shut-out this year, it will either be Kent State or Samford. I think it will be Kent State, even if our starters sit out the second half. Auburn 35 – Kent State 0.
James Sprayberry, local attorney
and longtime Auburn season ticket holder
I’ve gotta confess that I knew nothing about Kent State football until last week. After doing a little research, I’ve discovered why. There isn’t much to say about it because they’ve only had a very few competitive teams in their nearly 100-year history.
Yes, Lou Holtz was a Golden Flash linebacker in the mid 1950s and Nick Saban was a defensive back there in the early 1970s, but a school that once lost a game by the score of 118–0 and has rarely played in a bowl game just doesn’t have a storied football history. Its record last year was 2-10 and it has started the 2019 season with a 7-30 loss to Arizona State and a three-point win in OT over Kennesaw State after calling off its women’s field hockey game on a nearby field so the football game could start.
Auburn fans will be familiar with Kent State quarterback Woody Barrett, who signed with Auburn in 2016 as a four-star recruit out of Winter Garden, Florida, was redshirted his freshman year, and departed in the spring of 2017 after being low on the depth chart. Barrett, who, last year, was the first Kent State QB to start all 12 games since 2012, had once again earned the starting QB job when this season began.
However, it was Dustin Crum, named quarterback at last Saturday’s kick-off, who led Kent State to the win on Saturday, coming from being 10 points down. I expect the win against Kennesaw State will secure the top spot for Crum on their depth chart for now, but we may see both Golden Flash QBs in action here on Saturday.
Auburn’s 18-point win over Tulane again exposed the weakness of our running game, which was non-existent (20 yards) in the first half. It did generate 152 yards on the ground in the second half and our offensive line will need to open up more holes for our backs in the first half as we get into SEC play September 21 in College Station. Our injured corps of receivers will also need to be healthy if we have hopes of defeating the Aggies.
Despite giving up a field goal to the Green Wave on its opening possession and another one later in the game, our defense continued to impress, didn’t yield a touchdown and allowed Tulane to gain first downs on only 2 of 15 third-down attempts. It is living up to its reputation as one of the very best in the country.
My hope is that we use the Kent State game as an opportunity to give both of our quarterbacks the opportunity to refine their play and that we won’t get any more players on the disabled list.
Flash the Golden Eagle, who can give Ole Miss’ land shark some competition for the worst looking mascot in college football, should not have much to cheer about here on Saturday. Auburn 42 – Kent State 3.
Betty Burgess, retired English teacher, Auburn grad and lifelong Auburn fan
One sufficient event I failed to mention during last week’s article about the Oregon game was the similarities of the TD pass at the end of game from Bo Nix to Seth Williams with the Pat Nix to Frank Sanders TD pass during the 1993 Iron Bowl.
It was brought to my attention by my good friend, David Housel.
In 1966, Tulane and Georgia Tech decided to leave the SEC for what they thought were greener pastures. They were going to become independent football teams. Georgia Tech’s goal was to become the Notre Dame of the South. They would play who they wanted to and keep all the money. We all make mistakes.
Saturday was a great atmosphere with a good crowd and all the white. First home game of the season is always exciting. We started off slow just like we did against Oregon. Turnovers and the inability to run the football plagued us all night. Several times we started off inside our own 10-yard line and needed to run the ball and could not. Thank goodness for our defense. Tulane has a good team with all the Power 5 transfers. I thought their QB was really good. For Gus to run his complete offensive package our offensive line has got to get better for us to have a chance once we get into SEC play.
Next week, another tune-up game for Texas A&M. You better believe our coaches are already preparing for A&M. This next game with Kent State is our Homecoming game. Always a great time for lettermen and alumni to return to Auburn to fellowship and tailgate together.
Kent State is 1-1 and has one of Auburn’s former, QB Woody Barrett. He started against Arizona State but only played one down against Kennesaw State. One of Kent State’s most famous alumni is Nick Saban. He played football there. Wouldn’t think anyone with Coach Saban’s stature could play football. We forget that 45 to 50 years ago football players were not as big as today.
This will be a blowout with everyone dressed playing. Auburn 55 – Kent State 7.
Wendell McLain, Auburn retired brigadier general, Alabama National Guard
The axiom is that a football team makes its most improvement between game one and game two, but Auburn cast doubt on that old saw in its sluggish 24-6 win over Tulane.
Sure, the defense contained the Green Wave, limiting it to two field goals and just 223 total yards.
But until the offense began wearing Tulane down in the second half, the running game struggled, finishing with fewer than 200 yards.
Now compounding freshman Bo Nix’s difficulties in mastering the passing game at the college level are injuries to two of his top receivers (Will Hastings and Seth Williams).
But all should be well on The Plains Saturday night against Kent State, a woeful member of the MAC that only won two games a year ago. After opening with a 30-7 loss at Arizona State and barely surviving in overtime against Kennesaw State at home Saturday, the Golden Flashes shouldn’t offer much resistance.
Kent State opened as a 34.5-point underdog.
The Kent, Ohio, team should provide a cushy learning ground for Nix and the struggling run game.
The Tigers had expected to greet one of its former players, dual-threat quarterback Woody Barrett, as the starter for Flashes. The Orlando native signed with Auburn in 2015 as a four-star prospect, but transferred after it became apparent that Jarrett Stidham was the future face of the Tigers.
With an outstanding sophomore season in which he started all 12 games and accounted for 2,339 total yards and 18 touchdowns, Barrett was the established returning quarterback for Kent State.
But he only played one snap against Kennesaw State before being replaced by little-used junior Dustin Crum, who went 20-of-31 for 189 yards and one TD.
Whether it’s Barrett or Crum, the speedy Auburn defense will feast on the Flashes, and Nix & Co. will have one last opportunity to smooth out the offense before the first big SEC challenge next week.
Depending on how the offense unwinds, Auburn could score one of its biggest blowouts in recent years. But make it: AUBURN 42 – Kent State 0.
Bob Lowry, a retired political reporter for United Press International, and three daily newspapers
There are still more questions to be resolved surrounding Auburn’s offense. Unless Coach Malzahn is keeping it “vanilla” until SEC play, we have a lot of work to do. With clutch receiver Seth Williams now out, other receivers have to emerge other than Will Hastings (who took a vicious targeting hit in the last game). We did throw to the tight end once Saturday.
Kent State provides an opportunity to get it together hopefully before we go on the road to Texas A&M the next week to begin SEC play. The No. 8 ranking is nice, but I want to see where we are ranked a month from now.
For this game I am hoping the offense comes together and dominates Kent State.
Auburn 37 – Kent State 3.
Barry Mask, Auburn’s first “Friend of Aubie,” director of marketing for River Bank & Trust
Saturday will mark the first meeting between the Auburn Tigers and the Kent State Golden Flashes. This is Auburn’s final tune-up before conference play starts, and they have some definite things to work on.
For two weeks in a row the team has found yardage tough to come by, particularly on the ground and particularly in the first half. This has resulted in Bo Nix being forced into far too many third-and-long situations, which has caused the freshman signal-caller to struggle a bit.
You fix this by being better on first down. Whether accomplished by throwing more on traditional run downs and distances or just lining up and winning the line of scrimmage, it has to be done if the Tigers are going to make a run at the SEC West.
There is an old story that goes like this: Pat Dye was unhappy with how his team was running the football early in the season. So, going into a game against Miss State, he told his offense they were only going to run three plays that game and two of them were running plays.
The message was clear: run the football or lose the football game. Auburn won handily and got their running game untracked for the remainder of the season. I believe the 2019 Tiger offense needs a similar reckoning.
The Golden Flashes rank 115th nationally against the run and that includes playing an FCS opponent. No better time than the present for getting going and I believe this is the week they do it.
This will be the Tigers' first MACtion in a decade. Auburn is 6-0 all-time against teams from the MAC conference and that record will remain unblemished as the Tigers play to a 34 – 3 victory.
Brandon Hughes, Lee County
We all love our Auburn traditions. We fly eagles, we Tiger Walk, we roll corners and I would submit that last Saturday offered no disappointment in the continuing tradition of a fan broil in Jordan-Hare disguised as a football game!
I’m betting many of you probably believe you have a bit of understanding how crawfish feel when it’s cooking time.
Well, this Saturday high temps should be abundant when the Golden Flashes from the Buckeye State drop in for a game with the Donahue Drive crew.
Coach Lewis and his charges will be looking to give us a run after a barn burning, field goal extravaganza 26 – 23 OT win over Kennesaw State last week.
Our guys followed a similar pattern to week 1 in a slow start against Tulane but eventually pulled away for the win. Tulane is not a pushover and AU’s defense did a good job of shutting down the Green Wave offense.
The Tiger offense is still working on a few things and this weekend should offer some opportunities to do just that. Hopefully, our guys will get rolling early and give a few of our banged-up players a bit of rest before we leave town to visit some of our SEC brethren.
Being ranked in the AP at No. 8 is nice to see but it comes with the price of getting every opponent’s best effort. Interesting bit of information: one of Kent State’s better known alums is Nick Saban. It won’t help them much come Saturday.
In the second edition of our “How hot can it get” series of games: Auburn 45 – Kent State 13.
Jay Jones, Lee County sheriff
Editor's note: Check back in next week's Villager to see the panel's take on the Tigers' first SEC road game against Texas A&M and find the Panel of Wanna-Be Experts online at auburnvillager.com.