Sept. 27, 2013
It’s a football Saturday, but Auburn won’t be part of it. The Tigers, off to a 3-1 start, have an open date as they look to next Saturday’s game against Ole Miss at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
The vibe around Auburn football is distinctly different than it was after games last season, when that record was reversed and destined to get worse. These Tigers haven’t gotten a lot of national attention, but they might have a chance to change that when Ole Miss comes to town.
Lots of good things have happened. Quarterback Nick Marshall led one of the clutch drives in Auburn history to beat Mississippi State. A 31-24 win over Washington State was dismissed as unimpressive by many, but the Cougars have won three straight since and given up just two touchdowns. Ellis Johnson’s defense went 20 consecutive possessions without a giving up a touchdown. The Auburn running game, led by tailback Tre Mason, has been consistent and impressive.
Some not-so-good things have happened, too. Johnson’s defense has been dynamite in second halves but has been slow to get started. Marshall has not yet to put together four strong quarters. The Tigers have lost the turnover battle 6-4. A fumbled exchange between Marshall and Cameron Artis-Payne and fumbled punt snap by Steven Clark led directly to two LSU touchdowns, eventually the difference in the game. Two turnovers per game are too many.
Through it all, the Tigers have made enough plays to have an opportunity to make Gus Malzahn’s first season a memorable one.
Here is one man’s top 10 plays through four games:
1. Marshall’s 11-yard touchdown pass to C.J. Uzomah with 10 seconds left, completing an 88-yard drive in the final 1:56 to beat Mississippi State 24-20.
2. Robenson Therezie’s leaping interception of a Connor Halliday pass in the end zone to preserve Auburn’s 31-24 victory over Washington State.
3. Mason’s 100-yard kickoff return against Washington State that gave Auburn a 15-14 lead in the second quarter.
4. Marshall’s 11-yard scramble on third-and-10 on the winning drive against Mississippi State.
5. Marshall’s 37-yard pass to himself that set up a third-quarter against Mississippi State. The ball was batted back at him. He caught it with one hand and raced inside the 10. Officials ruled he stepped out of bounds at the 33, though replays seemed to indicate he did not.
6. Corey Grant’s 75-yard run to give Auburn a 22-21 lead over Washington State in the second quarter
7. Marshall’s 76-yard touchdown pass to Quan Bray after dropping the snap in the first quarter against Mississippi State. The play gave Auburn a 10-0 lead.
8. Therezie and Dee Ford’s hit on Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott to stop him short of a first down, forcing a punt that led to Auburn’s game-winning drive.
9. Sammie Coates’ 68-yard touchdown pass from Marshall against Arkansas State, pushing Auburn to a 21-3 lead.
10. Jermaine Whitehead’s interception on the first play of the third quarter at LSU. It set up a touchdown that cut LSU’s lead to 21-7 and gave Auburn a chance deep into the fourth quarter.
Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow Marshall on Twitter: