A very sloppy game saw the Tigers nearly lose to Georgia State, only to come back and take the lead with under a minute left.
Here are three takeaways from Auburn’s 34–24 win over Georgia State.
#1: Tigers are a mess in the red zone, both on offense and defense.
Auburn scored 12 points in the first half, all on field goals. Three of Carlson’s scores came from inside the Georgia State 25 yard line, including two kicks from the 10-yard line or closer. In the first half Nix only had one total yard in the red zone, a one yard carry. He missed both of his pass attempts.
Two of Georgia State’s three first-half touchdowns occurred with wide-open receivers in the red zone. The first score, a 12-yard throw from quarterback Darren Grainger to receiver Amari Thrash, saw not a single Auburn defender within 10 yards of Thrash. The defense shut down the Panthers in the first half, but the two miscues in the first half allowed Georgia State to build their lead.
#2: This isn’t the year.
We’ve come a long way from that Week 1 game against Akron, haven’t we?
Getting benched is never a good look, but it’s even worse when you’re benched against a non-Power Five team on your school’s homecoming game. Nix had a rough game on Saturday, completing 13 of his 27 passes for 156 yards and two carries for one yard before being pulled in the third quarter. The student section chants of “We want T.J.!” were answered, and quarterback T.J. Finley was put into the game.
#3 Special teams is the strong suit of this Auburn team.
Special teams scored 19 of the team’s 27 points against Georgia State, doing their best to make up for an inept Auburn offense. Blocking a punt for the second time in three games gave the crowd a shot of adrenaline and got them back into the game after not having anything to cheer about for over two quarters of play.
The return game shined on Saturday, highlighted by Nehemiah Pritchett’s 72-yard kick return in the first quarter. Auburn finished with 183 yards on five kick returns and 26 yards on two punt returns.
In addition to the scoring, Oscar Chapman has done a good job as Auburn’s punter. The sophomore from Australia averaged 46.4 yards per punt on Saturday, pinning two of them inside the 20 yard line.
Harsin has preached the value of special teams and how he wants his best players out on the field for special teams play, which is certainly an advantage.