This week the Auburn Tigers (3-4, 1-3) enter their bye week on a three-game losing streak, which begs the question, “What do Bryan Harsin and his Tigers need to change before they face Sam Pittman’s Razorbacks and rest of the SEC?”
Three things rise to the top, areas where Auburn drastically underperforms compared to programs across the nation.
Gaps in the offensive line mean the entire offense has not performed effectively.
The main issue Auburn football seems to encounter is major problems with the offensive line. The offensive line is not the only problem with the Tiger offense, but many of its issues begin there, on the line of scrimmage. During the season’s first half, the O-line allowed 18 sacks for a total of 118 yards lost.
Ranked No. 102 nationally of NCAA's FBS schools, the Tigers average 2.57 sacks allowed per game. Ranked 84th nationwide according to Football Outsiders, their opportunity rate is 46.7%, which is the percentage of carries made when the O-line does its job correctly. The offensive line isn’t performing their job well, so Auburn’s quarterbacks Robby Ashford and T.J. Finley cannot do theirs.
The Tigers sit at the No. 107 in scoring offense, averaging 22.3 points per game.
Auburn struggles with defensive breakdowns.
The Tigers must stop the opposing team’s runs. Auburn’s defense gives up around 28.3 points a game, leaving them at 12th in the SEC. With the offense averaging just over 22 points each game, the numbers point to, on average, Auburn losing the game.
In the game against Georgia, Auburn gave up 292 net yards in only 39 attempts.
A week later, the Tigers’ defense was better at containing Ole Miss's run game, limiting them to only 448 net yards through 69 attempts. According to Football Outsiders, Auburn has a .299 as their touchdown rate, the percentage of the opposition’s offensive runs that result in touchdowns. That performance leaves the Tigers at No. 77 in the nation for their touchdown rate.
Turnovers kill the Tigers’ offense.
Turnovers are a big problem for Auburn. The Tigers have already acquired 16 turnovers and had a turnover margin of -11, ranking them No. 130 of 131 FBS teams. Halfway through the season, Auburn has thrown ten interceptions, accompanied by 19 fumbles while losing six. Against Georgia and Ole Miss, Auburn had two fumbles and lost it once each game.
Along with the inefficiency plaguing the offensive line, that turnover number means the Tigers are handing the ball away when the offense does manage to possess it.
Next up, the Tigers have to face Arkansas at home, their first return to Jordan-Hare Stadium after two consecutive road losses. With two weeks of practice to prepare, Auburn has gaps it will need to fill before the SEC gauntlet resumes.
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Caitlyn Griffin is a freshman from Huntsville, Ala. majoring in journalism. She started with The Plainsman in fall 2022.