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The grades for Auburn following its heartbreaking 39-33 comeback loss to Mississippi State (MSU).
The passing game was nonexistent, but when Auburn needed something from Robby Ashford down the stretch, he delivered. Auburn had 256 yards on the ground, and Robby Ashford racked up 108 of those yards, along with two crucial touchdowns. His touchdowns kept Auburn in the game and turned a 24-3 game into a 24-19 game. Through the air, he struggled to just get 75 yards.
Running Backs: B+
Tank Bigsby had the play of the game to give Auburn the lead for the first time, and Jarquez Hunter’s touchdown took the lead right back. The duo combined for 143 yards on the ground and made few mistakes, outside of a couple of drops from Tank Bigsby.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends: D-
Some crucial drops from the entire group stalled Auburn drives, but the run blocking along the edge dramatically altered the game, giving Auburn several opportunities to attack an area that the offense has struggled in so far. Overall, it was a tough night for the receiving corps, but the passing game was unlikely to produce much either way.
Offensive Line: F
A revolving door continued along the offensive line, but it did not mean a whole lot down the stretch. Jeremiah Wright showed flashes, but two costly penalties killed two Auburn drives. The offensive line struggled in pass protection, giving up five sacks.
Defensive Line: A-
The defensive line showed up and showed out, performing like the unit everyone expected, especially Derick Hall and Colby Wooden. The duo combined for three sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. The front kept the team in the game and held MSU to no points until the final minutes of the fourth quarter.
What has been a weak point for the defense showed some improvement tonight, with the staff mixing-and-matching several lineups, including Barton Lester and Cam Riley. The unit did not have nearly as many missed tackles as in previous weeks.
Defensive Backs: D
When Auburn needed two key stops, the Auburn defensive backfield could not get them. The first was a simple fade to the endzone in which Nehemiah Pritchett got beat to make it 17-0. Then, in overtime, A J.D. Rhym pass interference call gave MSU the ball at the five, and sucked whatever air was left out of the Auburn sideline.
Special Teams: F
The only advantage Auburn had in the special teams game was a host of self-inflicted wounds from Mississippi State. Anders Carlson started the game 2-2, but a costly miss in overtime was a backbreaker. On kickoffs, the return coverage issues continued as a short one from Carlson was taken back for a crucial MSU touchdown.
Cadillac Williams delivered on his promise that the team was going to play hard, and while the Tigers did not win, the locker room refused to quit despite being down 24-6 at halftime. Adjustments from Schmedding on defense and the combo of Will Friend and Ike Hilliard on the offense end sparked the comeback. However, a few costly gambles, including a two-point conversion attempt as well as a fourth down conversion that was stuffed at the line left four points on the board for Auburn.
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