It’s hard to draw conclusions when two teams play with as much of a talent disparity as Auburn and Kent State did, but it is important the Tigers handled business. Few will leave a blow out over a bad team with high impressions, but many will leave a poor performance against a bad team with disappointment and concern. Fortunately for Auburn fans, they could leave last night in the former situation rather than the latter.
At the press conference on Sunday, Malzahn gave the team helmet stickers to Marlon Davidson (defense), Bailey Sharp (offense) and Anders Carlson (special teams).
Bo Nix is improving in managing the offense.
“I have improved,” Nix said at a press conference on Sunday. “I think you can see it on film. I’m just a little more calm. I know where to look. I know where to get my eyes pre-snap, post-snap, things like that. I’m more comfortable with the offense. I’m more comfortable with how Coach Malzahn likes to call plays. Three games in, I feel like I am in a good spot, and I am looking forward to here in the next few weeks and just keep getting better.”
It is evident from watching Nix play that his statement above is true. Despite the level of competition, it cannot be undervalued the flow Auburn had on offense. An offense’s flow starts with the quarterback, and Nix managed the game well, making close to zero mistakes. Not only did he manage the game, we saw him take over drives at times, including when he kept the football multiple times with the read option.
The power blocking scheme is Auburn’s most effective means of moving the ball on the ground.
It does not matter that Kent State stacked the box against Auburn’s rushing attack because other SEC teams will do the same. Auburn’s zone blocking on carries in between the tackles continues to be average, but the Tigers found another way to fire up the ground game. Auburn has blocked well on runs using the power blocking scheme, meaning offensive lineman pulled to set blocks and open up holes. Moving forward, I expect Malzahn will continue to maximize this strength with the wildcat formation and the read option concept.
Injuries are piling up, but players are stepping up to fill the void.
Offensive lineman Bailey Sharp will have a procedure on his knee that will keep him out for six weeks. Defensive lineman Derrick Brown suffered an upper-body contusion, and he is listed as day-to-day. Malzahn also said defensive lineman Derrick Hall and offensive lineman Prince Tega Wanogho are listed as day-to-day. Wide-receiver Seth Williams is “hopeful” to return to practice on Tuesday.
Fortunately for Auburn, it doesn’t sound like Brown, Wanogho or Williams will miss an extended period. Nonetheless, Malzahn has seen players step up to fill the void. Wide-receiver Eli Stove was the team leader in receptions and receiving yards against Kent State with six catches for 88 yards and a touchdown. He has reached the end zone in every game this season. Coaches and players have spoken highly of defensive tackle Tyrone Truesdell, who had 1.5 sacks and two tackles for loss against Kent State. Lastly, Sharp performed well as Wanogho’s replacement, but unfortunately, he will miss extended time with the knee injury. Auburn is thinning out at offensive tackle, so Wanogho will have to return or the Tigers will need to turn to players such as Brodarious Hamm or Nick Brahms.