Win or lose, Auburn football has drawn criticism this season, and after the Tigers’ 30-22 loss to South Carolina, negative discourse has reached a season-high. It’s not hard to find analysis on the problems Auburn is currently dealing with, but let’s take a different approach to breaking down the Tigers. What is Auburn doing well through the first four games of the 2020 season?
1. Running Game
Tank Bigsby’s emergence as Auburn’s primary offensive weapon hasn’t come with volume but with explosive plays, showcasing the untapped potential of the Tigers’ next great running back. Despite being ninth in the SEC in rushing attempts, Bigsby sits at No. 5 in rushing yards (303) and No. 3 in yards per carry (6.06). While the offensive line has received its fair share of criticism, the team’s rushing effort has been effective, sitting at fourth in the SEC in yards per carry (4.64). Uncharacteristically, Auburn has more passing attempts than rushing attempts on the year. It’s fair to ask what the Auburn offense would look like if the running game was the focal point?
2. Field Goals
Of course, Auburn would rather be scoring touchdowns than leading the SEC in field goals made (8), but this is the most successful season we’ve seen from Anders Carlson. Steadily, Carlson has increased his field goal percentage from 60 percent when he was a freshman in 2018 to 72 percent in 2019 and 89 percent this season. Three teams (Alabama, Arkansas and Florida) have yet to miss a field goal, but among teams that have, Auburn has the highest field goal percentage in the league. For the first time since Anders’ brother, Daniel, was at Auburn, it feels like the Tigers’ have a consistent, accurate weapon at kicker.
3. Offensive Line Improvement
The two most scrutinized position groups on Auburn’s roster right now are quarterback and offensive line. In the weekly blame debate, the offensive line has been pitted against Bo Nix to see who holds the most culpability for the offense’s shortcomings. After the Georgia game, it was my assertion that the offensive line held most of the blame, but two games later, I do not hold the same view. The offensive line has shown continued improvement, while Bo Nix has regressed, feeling phantom pressure and leaving well-protected pockets. Auburn is ranked No. 14 in the country in tackles for loss allowed per game (4.25), which is, believe it or not, better than Alabama. As stated earlier, the running game, in terms of yards per carry, is in the top tier of the league. While the offensive line is not a complete product, it is improving on a game-to-game basis, and it’s not keeping Auburn behind the line of scrimmage.