GAME DAY, Auburn vs. MSU
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------LIVE COVERAGE FROM JORDAN-HARE------
MSU wins, 19-14: OK, well, Auburn isn't going to finish 8-4 this season. Nope. Here are the things, good and bad, that really stuck out to me on Saturday.
- What's up with the MSU draws? That last one that converted a 3rd-and-12 was really bad. Auburn never made an adjustment on those plays.
- Kodi Burns has some good things about him, but I don't think he's a winning SEC quarterback yet. I mean, yea, he hasn't won an SEC game. You know what I mean. Auburn can't play him and expect to win every week. No way. Too many weaknesses and the offense is too simple with him in there.
- Rod Smith was the only WR doing anything productive. Where are the other guys?
- Another bad day for LT King Dunlap. This time, he missed 3/4 of the game with a hyper-extended elbow. It didn't seem like he was having a good day even before the injury.
- Mario Fannin fumbled again. That's three in two games. Carnell Williams had three in his entire college career. Tuberville said he'll keep playing Fannin because he has to. Not exactly a ringing endorsement.
Time of possession update ...
MSU -- 9:16
AUB -- 5:44
MSU -- 11:47
AUB -- 18:13
Third quarter ends: Mississippi State had 105 yards in the first quarter. Two quarters later, they have 179. I'd say Auburn has made some useful adjustments. The offense is more incremental with Burns in there. I don't see a lot of opportunities for big plays. Still, this is better than Cox throwing interceptions. This may move slowly, but it moves forward for the Tigers. Al Borges much prefers that.
Defense coming along: Auburn's defense had a few lulls early in the game, but those days are over. The line is pushing forward. The defensive backs are making plays. I don't understand why Will Muschamp's defense sputters during the first quarter every week. They make up for it with strong play (for the most part) from the second quarter on. This week is no different. MSU can't get much accomplished on offense right now.
Fannin fumbles again: Fannin fumbled on a little run off right guard. The MSU guys know he's fumble-prone and they really claw at that ball. Legally, of course. I doubt we'll see much more of Fannin today. At some point, the coaches have to start worrying about how these problems affect his mental approach.
Auburn leads 14-13 at the half: Burns engineered touchdown drives with Auburn's final two first-half possessions. He looks great in a way. He is not a dynamic offensive player right now. Auburn is running this shotgun speed-option formation most of the time with Burns in there. They fake a handoff and Burns either keeps or the tailback goes with it. Burns attempted only two passes in the first half. Still, he's fast and he's making thoughtful option decisions. He's an advanced runner.
Auburn scores a TD!: Auburn is running these shotgun options and they're really messing with MSU. Tate took one of those option handoffs and scored from 28 yards out. It was the best run of Tate's career. Also of note: King Dunlap is out, presumably because of ineffectiveness. He allowed that sack on Burns that led to a first-quarter fumble.
7:00, 2nd: Auburn's defense is playing with more aggression. The offense isn't. I think the schemes are so simple with Burns in there. He has made significant improvement since the last time I saw him play (in two-a-days), but that doesn't change the fact that he's 18 years old.
13:00, 2nd: I think Auburn's defense is getting affected by all these offensive struggles. They're not as stout up front as I expected. I know MSU is playing a higher level today. No doubt about that. But I don't see the same kind of discipline from AU's defense right now. They look frustrated.
End of 1st quarter: Burns was hit as he threw on a third-down play, and it was ruled a fumble. So that's three TOs in three possessions so far. A swell performance. I haven't seen Auburn's offense this bad since the 2003 loss at Georgia Tech. Just terrible. Of note, MSU quarterback Mike Henig (Montgomery native) is out with a broken hand.
Some 1st Q stats:
Auburn has 45 yards in 12 plays. Three turnovers.
MSU tailback Anthony Dixon already has 49 rushing yards.
MSU, 10-0 Holy cow. Kodi Burns is in. WOW. I cannot believe this. Cox has been intercepted twice, I know, but I just can't believe they did it. Burns' tour of duty was two plays -- a pair of keepers. He gained nine yards. Cox came back in on third down. Then Burns came back in. They're running an option attack with Kodi. This took a long time to install. They've been planning this.
12:59, 1st: OK, Tray Blackmon didn't start as indicated. They're going with Evans and Courtney Harden. Blackmon is on the sideline in full uniform. Let's see if he plays.
5 min. to kickoff: Chris Evans at WLB for Merrill Johnson (shoulder)
Tray Blackmon at MLB for Evans (switched positions)
Pat Lee at LCB for Jae Wilhite (hamstring)
Eric Brock at FS for Aairon Savage (ankle)
Rob Dunn at "Z" receiver for Prechae Rodriguez (coach's decision)
Tim Hawthorne at "W" receiver for Rob Dunn (switching positions)
22 min. to kickoff: Tray Blackmon was just announced as a starter at linebacker, as was Chris Evans. I guess that means one of them will play for injured weak-side linebacker Merrill Johnson. I predicted on Thursday that Blackmon wouldn't play. Oh well.
35 min to kickoff: Great day for football. In the high 70s. Sunny. The field still is wet from the rain last night, so it's brighter than usual. Really reflecting that water. It's so easy to tell it's an 11:30 game outside the stadium. Parking spaces are easy to find. Tailgating tents are sporadic. Hard to get enthused in the morning.