No. 18 Auburn just lost its fifth straight game to the No. 2 Georgia Bulldogs. Here are three takeaways from the 34–10 loss on Saturday.
#1: Play calling gets more aggressive
On Auburn’s first drive of the game they were twice faced with fourth-and-one calls, and on both of those they went for it. Ending up converting both allowed the Tigers to take an early 3–0 lead over Georgia, on a 17-play, 68-yard drive.
Late in the second quarter the Tigers were once again faced with a fourth-and-short call, this time handed to them by a UGA offsides penalty on a field goal attempt. Instead of taking the easy field goal Harsin sent his offense back onto the field to try and go for the touchdown. Bo Nix’s pass was broken up and Auburn left a 12-play, 71-yard drive empty handed.
Going for the fourth down in the second quarter was the right move for Harsin to make. While it’s easy to take the three points and go into halftime down by 11, the reality is that Auburn wasn’t going to defeat the No. 2 team in the country by kicking field goals.
Auburn would go for it on fourth down another time in the second half, but did not convert.
#2: Offensive woes persist once again
It’s unbelievable how many drops there were in Saturday’s loss to the Bulldogs. Nix didn’t play amazing, but he certainly wasn’t helped out by the rest of the offense. The Tigers finished with under 100 rushing yards for the first time this season, as all three running backs were unable to get to the second level of Georgia’s defense. The offensive line couldn't run or pass block, as Nix was sacked three times and the offense averaged 1.6 yards per carry.
Offensive issues like this can be overcome against teams like Alabama State and Georgia State, but they were put on full blast against the Bulldogs on Saturday. The Tiger offense has some serious issues to fix before a road matchup against Arkansas next week.
#3: The Auburn defense misses its starters
With linebacker Owen Pappoe and EDGE T.D. Moultry both out of Saturday’s game, the already hurt Tiger defense took another hit when Smoke Monday was ejected on a targeting call. That made three missing starters on the defensive side, one of them being a team captain.
In the three games that Pappoe has missed the Tigers have given up 391.3 yards per game on the defensive side, including 432 to Georgia on Saturday. Monday going out early in the second quarter certainly didn’t help an already struggling secondary, as Bennett finished the game with 231 yards passing and two touchdowns.