Takeaways from Auburn’s 41-12 loss to No. 22 Penn State

Takeaways from Auburn’s 41-12 loss to No. 22 Penn State

Published September 18, 2022
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Auburn took it on the chin in a 41-12 blowout loss to Penn State on Saturday afternoon. It was an incredible environment, with a pregame energy Jordan-Hare hasn’t felt in almost a year.

It was wasted on a poorly executed effort from the Tigers.

Not much positive to take away from this one, at least, not in the heat of the moment.

Here are six takeaways from the huge loss.

Eric Starling/Auburn Daily

USC currently leads the nation in yards per play at 8.6.

Until Penn State pulled the majority of their starters early in the fourth quarter, their offense was averaging 8.4 yards per play.

Sean Clifford wasn’t electric, but did enough. He finished the day 14-of-19 passing for 178 yards (9.3 yards per attempt). The bigger story? The ground game.

Auburn’s defensive line was manhandled. PSU’s two freshmen running backs combined for over 170 yards rushing and four touchdowns.

More was expected from the defense. More pressure. More early down success.

None of it happened. The defense was picked apart from the beginning of the game to the very end.

Eric Starling/Auburn Daily

How do you allow your star player on offense to receive a total nine carries? How does it happen?

The offensive line may be struggling, but not finding creative ways to get your best player touches but instead looking elsewhere (which proved to fail tremendously) is an interesting strategy.

Eric Starling/Auburn Daily

Six sacks for Penn State, none for Auburn.

11 tackles for loss for PSU, three for the Tigers.

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6.5 yards per carry for State, 3.3 for Auburn.

The line couldn’t get a pass rush going, plug gaps consistently, or contain the edge.

Even when Auburn’s QBs could escape the constant pressure that was being sent their way, they were still running for their life and turning the ball over.

If you can’t perform in the trenches, you can’t win in the SEC. It’s all about recruiting.

As of right now, Auburn’s 2023 class is 62nd nationally, and last in the SEC. There is one offensive lineman in that class.

Four of the Tigers’ five starting offensive lineman graduate this year.

What are they going to do in 2023?

Eric Starling/Auburn Daily

This is arguably worse than the offense that Gus Malzahn was putting on the field in 2020. The biggest problem, obviously, starts up front, but the inability to scheme around the flaws or at least find some semblance of consistency with the talent on roster is startling.

The play calling on first and second down is simply bad. There’s no identity.

Harsin said in the preseason that the offense wanted balance, but that the Tigers would be a run-first offense that controlled the pace of the game. Auburn can’t run the ball.

The two quarterback system does not work. It kills momentum and tempo.

Nothing about the offense in its current state should be viewed in a positive light. Changes have to be made. Something has to give.

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Eric Starling/Auburn Daily

Auburn turned the ball over four times against Penn State. Both quarterbacks threw an interception, Finley fumbled three times and lost one of them, and WR Shedrick Jackson fumbled before the end of the half.

The last thing the Tigers needed was to shoot themselves in the foot four times against a top 25 opponent. It doesn’t matter how strong the home field advantage is – if protecting the football is an issue, wins will be extremely hard to come by.

Interceptions, bad decisions, and fumbles are a product of bad coaching. Occasional turnovers happen. But four in a single game?

© Jake Crandall / USA TODAY NETWORK

Bryan Harsin told the media back at SEC Media Days to ‘just watch’ his teams’ performance this season.

We’ve watched closely. Three weeks into the season, we’ve watched the product the Tigers have put out on the field progressively get worse. Following a blowout loss to Penn State, the question has to be asked:

At what point do the fans look away?

Catch up on some of our stories covering the game this week between the Auburn Tigers and the Penn State Nittany Lions.

Auburn Daily Roundtable: Week Three

Five Reasons Auburn will beat Penn State

Five Reasons Auburn will lose to Penn State

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