No. 22 Auburn just won its first Tiger Bowl in Baton Rouge since 1999. Here are three takeaways from Saturday’s 24–19 win over LSU.
#1: The red zone defense has improved from last week
The Tigers showed some serious issues in the red zone last week against Georgia State, but buckled down against LSU. Communication issues were prevalent against the Panthers, allowing Georgia State to score two touchdowns where the receivers were wide open. On Saturday, Auburn locked down LSU in the red zone, holding the Bayou Bengals to field goals on two of their three first half red zone appearances.
The red zone defense once again shined in the second half, holding LSU to a field goal attempt after receiver Deion Smith dropped a pass in the corner of the endzone.
#2: Pass rush improves, pass defense still underwhelming
In the first half of the annual Tiger Bowl the Auburn pass defense struggles, allowing 235 pass yards and a touchdown to LSU’s Max Johnson. Receivers had significant separation and were lethal in racking up yards after the reception. This was evident on the first LSU drive of the game, where receiver Kayshon Boutte took a quick slant 55 yards deep into Auburn territory.
To give credit where credit is due, the pass defense held Johnson in control in the second half. The sophomore quarterback finished completing 26 of 46 passes for 325 yards, one touchdown and an interception.
Unlike the pass defense, the Auburn pass rush showed significant improvement from previous weeks. Edge rusher Derick Hall had sacks on back-to-back drives, the second setting up a second-and-long play that LSU was unable to recover from and was forced to settle for a field goal. Linebacker Eku Leota added another sack in the second half, forcing a fumble on Johnson. The Auburn defense pressured Johnson all night, making him uncomfortable – especially in the second half.
#3: Take the positives with the negatives with Bo Nix
What a difference a week makes for Nix. Coming off being benched in Auburn’s homecoming game, there were plays where Nix showed exactly why he has been starting as a true freshman. However, there were also times where he reverted back to missing receivers and running around in the pocket on broken plays. Luckily for Nix some of those broken plays worked out for him, allowing Auburn to stay in the game.
Nix finished completing 23 of 44 passes for 255 yards and score. The junior quarterback also had 12 carries for 74 yards and a touchdown.