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Auburn knows: 'We gave away a bunch of points...'
Oct. 12, 2014

Turnovers, red zone trouble and rain made for a generally gloomy day for Auburn

By Charles Goldberg
STARKVILLE, Miss.  Two turnovers on Auburn's first two plays, and just as suddenly, a two-touchdown lead for Mississippi State.
Auburn's Gus Malzahn said such a sequence had never happened to him before…or not until Saturday at Scott Field where Mississippi State won 38-23.
"It was," said center Reese Dismukes, "about as bad as you can imagine."
Auburn played on, even after falling behind 21-0, to cut the deficit to eight points in the second quarter and again in the third quarter.  "We'll come together from here," said receiver Duke Williams.

Saturday's loss left a messy trail on the stat sheet.
"We turned the ball over and gave them easy points, but we never gave up, kept fighting. We got into the red zone, but didn't score. That hurt us," said receiver Sammie Coates.
Malzahn said the game came down to Auburn's four turnovers, Mississippi State's success in the red zone, and Auburn's failure to produce enough touchdowns in the same place.
"Our turnovers, they turned into points. Their turnovers, we didn't do a very good job turning those into points. I thought that was a big factor," Malzahn said.
It all happened so quickly. Auburn turned it over on its first two plays, leading to a 14-0 Mississippi State lead 3½ minutes into the game. Then, in the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs scored twice without Auburn even taking a snap. Mississippi State kicked a field goal, recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, and quickly scored its last touchdown of the game. That field goal/touchdown sequence took all of 26 seconds.
Mississippi State took advantage of turnovers better than Auburn. "That was probably the most frustrating thing for me," Malzahn said.  And the Bulldogs survived with favorable bounces. Mississippi State fumbled five times, but only lost one of them. Still, the Bulldogs, like Auburn, had four turnovers.
Mississippi State converted 8 of its first 10 third-down tries. It went 0-for-7 from there. Auburn converted 6-of-15 third-down tries. State scored on five of its six trips to the red zone, and critically, scored four touchdowns from there. Auburn converted on four of six trips into the red zone, but scored only two touchdowns from there.
"We've got to move forward, but looking at it right now, we gave away a bunch of points," said running back Cameron Artis-Payne. "They capitalized on our turnovers. We didn't capitalize on their turnovers. We left a points out there on the field."
Artis-Payne said he thought Auburn recovered from the early turnovers, but "at the end of the day, it's all about the red zone and the lack of execution down there."

Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter:



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