Despite the impressive statistics, the No. 15 Auburn fell in South Carolina after making a series of costly mistakes.
The 30-22 loss was the first defeat the Tigers have suffered against the Gamecocks since the 1930s. Defensive penalties, interceptions and big drops all played a part in the defeat. The Tigers drop to 2-2 while the Gamecocks rise to 2-2.
Both of Auburn̵
If it weren’t for three interceptions, Bo Nix would have had a fantastic match. However, those three interceptions were key to Auburn’s loss. They led to 21 points and Auburn only lost by eight. Nix continued to compete and ended the game with a 272-yard pass and 69-yard run. His completion rate was only 51 percent, but that doesn’t take into account the drops of his receivers or the times he had to throw it away. There are things to build on, but it was another poor road performance.
Running back: C
Real freshman Tank Bigsby had her second 100-yard run game in a row. Bigsby finished with 111 yards on 16 carries, averaging 6.9 yards. It bounced off the defenders and made its way through piles of bodies, popping up the other side to collect several more meters. D.J. Williams also rushed for 17 yards and took two catches for 26 yards. There are still improvements to be made to the running game as the offensive line seeks consistency and running backs are taken into account more in the game plan.
Narrow ends: C.
Luke Deal made his first career reception, adding to the list of pending shots that considered passing play. In addition to this and J.J. Appearance of Pegues on the non-conversion from two points, the shots were much less visible than in previous matches. John Samuel Shenker continued hitting the pitch as a blocker, where he helped open some passing lanes, but otherwise they were quiet.
Wide receivers: D.
The wide receivers played a part in helping Nix rack up 272 passing yards, but they also made some big falls that lowered his completion rate and blocked units. Wide receiver Eli Stove said there were just some communication problems and small details to correct. Stove played well for his first game since being injured against Georgia, but Seth Williams was held on to four catches out of 12 targets. Williams also overturned the ball which was intercepted. Anthony Schwartz had six catches for 59 yards and a few falls.
Offensive line: D
To open the second half, the offensive line was called for a false start. The linemen also had several other penalties that damaged the offensive. They helped give Nix more time in his pocket than previous games, although he started tumbling down as the game progressed. Nix was sacked three times in this match and had to make a number of runaway plays. Although the players had returned from injury, it didn’t look like the top five had yet been defined.
Defensive line: C
The defensive line put more pressure on the quarterback, putting his hands in Colin Hill’s face, but he was unable to hug the quarterback, finishing with zero sack. The rush for overtaking is key, and it’s something Auburn has been trying to focus on, but hasn’t led to many results yet. The line improved its defensive run, especially in the first half. He held the Gamecocks at 41 yards on 19 striker attempts. South Carolina was able to find some gaps in the second half and finished with 153 yards.
Once again, Zakoby McClain and Owen Pappoe led the team in tackling, finishing with 13 and 10 tackles respectively. McClain also made the only sack of the team, while Pappoe made the only interception. McClain and Pappoe helped stop the running backs who found holes, and also made a few stops on the passes. Looks like they’re trying to keep the defense from the center together.
Penalties were really what hurt the defense in the second half, Pappoe said. Two of those big penalties were on cornerbacks. Roger McCreary was called twice for defensive interference on the pass, which moved Gamecocks onto the field. Many of South Carolina’s big catches were made right over the heads of the cornerbacks. Sure, the ones Shi Smith made were just great games. Overall, the secondary held South Carolina at just 144 receiving yards. It will also improve once the rush to pass is established. But the penalties were key to the loss.
To increase the cornerback penalties, Smoke Monday added a facemask penalty and interference on the defensive pass in the second half. Both penalties helped Gamecocks score. The securities were also beaten on several large catches. They helped stop the rush, but they also lost some tackles and let the Gamecocks through. Jamien Sherwood finished with five tackles and Smoke Monday finished with one.
Special teams: B
Like last game, footballer Anders Carlson had to score a lot of Auburn points. He kicked three field goals, all within 40 yards, because Auburn failed to finish in the red zone. He did all three. He also had four touchbacks out of six kickoffs and the cover team only allowed a 16-yard kickoff return. Aidan Marshall only had to aim twice, but averaged 45.5 yards per punt. The Gamecocks’ only punt return went for just three yards. Bigsby only had one kickoff return and took him to 23 yards.
Auburn’s fights in the red zone continue, and not all the blame can be placed on the execution of the players. Auburn relied solely on Nix and the passing game, rather than trying to get the running game going. Instead of making the famous first-half defensive adjustments, Auburn actually gave up more in the second half, which is becoming common for this 2020 squad. The handling of the clock also left something to be desired.
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