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#StatTiger: Mississippi State Postgame Numbers & Thoughts


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Coming into the Mississippi State game, Auburn was 3-18 since 1981, when trailing by 14 or more points after the 1st quarter and 6-29-1, when trailing by at least 10. This made the 21-0 deficit after the 1st quarter almost impossible to recover. Gus Malzahn stressed the importance of starting off the game productively, which Auburn failed to do. After the first 4 possessions, Auburn had 85-yards of total offense and zero points. MSU had 142-yards and 21 points. For the remainder of the game Auburn gained 356-yards and 23 points to MSU's 327-yards and 17 points.

Because of the two early turnovers, Auburn trailed on the scoreboard, 14-0 after only 2 offensive snaps. Once again it was a hole that was virtually impossible to overcome, especially against a very good team like Mississippi State. One of the key stats I mentioned during the MSU preview was the number of snaps both teams had taken, trailing on the scoreboard. Auburn had taken only 9 during their first 5 combined games and MSU had taken a total of 25 during their first 5 games. I thought the team that could handle diversity the best would win. Auburn simply dug themselves an early hole just as they did against LSU in 2013.

The final score and the poor start gave the impression Auburn was dominated during the game. The actual numbers state otherwise. There was certainly early domination during the first period on the part of MSU but the final three periods was slightly in favor of the visiting Tigers. Of course that is why coaches stress playing a 4-quarter game and you are what you make of the game. Had Mississippi State self-destructed in the same fashion Auburn did during the first quarter, it was unlikely they could have overcame the same deficit. To their credit, they built a 21-0 lead and did what they had to do to secure the victory.

Inside the Numbers:

  • MSU was 7 of 9 on third-downs during the first-half and 1 of 8 during the second-half.
  • 46.2% of Auburn's offensive snaps netted 5-yards or better and Mississippi State hit at 43.0%.
  • After gaining 316-yards on 44 plays during the first-half (7.18 YPP), MSU was held to 153-yards on 35 snaps during the second-half (4.37 YPP).
  • For the season Auburn allows 5.6 yards per play during the first-half and only 3.9 yards during the second-half.
  • 43.6% of Auburn's snaps held to 2-yards or less and 46.8% of MSU's snaps held to 2-yards or less.
  • Nick Marshall entered the MSU game with only 23 pass attempts on first-down through 4.5 games. He had 17 against MSU.
  • MSU averaged 6.1 yards per rush during the first-half and 4.1 yards during the second-half.
  • For the second game in a row, Auburn's front-7 accounted for more than 60% of the team's tackles. During the previous 4 games, it was no higher than 58%.
  • Mississippi State recorded 3 sacks on Nick Marshall, equaling the total number of sacks Auburn had allowed in their previous 5 games.
  • For the 4th time this season, Auburn was held to less than 6-yards per play on first-down. That equals the total number of times it happened to the Auburn offense during the entire 2013 season.
  • Nick Marshall was only 10 of 17 throwing the football on first-down against the Bulldogs after completing 100% during his previous 2 games.
  • Since 1961 Auburn's average pass-rating against a top-5 ranked opponent is 101.5. Auburn had a rating of 106.2 against No. 3 MSU. This was the 25th best passing performance from the 59 previous games against top-5 teams. Take away the hideous PI call on Sammie Coates and Auburn's rating was 121.9. Under Gus Malzahn the average pass-rating at Auburn vs. top-5 teams is 120.2.
  • The two key factors in the outcome of the game was the scoring off turnovers and red zone production. MSU scored 21 points off of Auburn's turnovers and scored 31 points inside the Auburn red zone. Auburn scored 13 points off of turnovers and only 20 points inside the red zone.
  • Prior to the Mississippi State game, Auburn had compiled a record of 72-7-1 since 1961, when they had over 200 rushing and 200-yards passing in the same game. The average score in the previous 80 games was 42-17.
  • Auburn is now 9-18-0 (.333) since 1992 with 4 or more turnovers during a game.
  • Another key to this game I previously outlined during the MSU preview was first-down production. The team that was more productive in the last 22 meetings, went 19-3. Saturday's game now makes it 20-3 in the last 23 meetings.
  • Coming into the MSU game Auburn's average distance required to convert a 3rd-down was 6.2 yards. It was 8.0 against the Bulldogs. MSU on the other hand, faced an average distance of 5.4 yards against Auburn.
  • Through 6 games into the 2013 season, Auburn's offense generated 54 impact plays. This season the offense has totaled 64 through 6 games. It was 55.6% run last season through 6 games and 59.4% pass this season.
  • Auburn's top-3 play-makers through the mid-season mark are Duke Williams (17), Cameron Artis-Payne (13) and Nick Marshall (12) based on plays of 15-yards or more. Corey Grant, Melvin Ray and Sammie Coates are tied for 4th with four each. Nick Marshall has been directly involved in 38 of Auburn's 64 impact plays.
  • Through 6 games into 2013, Tre Mason averaged 5.59 yards per rush and CAP is at 5.27 yards. CAP had a higher pct of impact runs with 7.1% to Mason's 5.4%. Mason had a higher pct of 5-yd runs at 42.4% to CAP's 38.9%. Mason had a higher pct of 10-yard runs at 15.2% to CAP's 13.5%.
  • Racean Thomas had his first meaningful snaps this season with 42-yards on 6 carries. He also recorded his first impact-play with an 18-yard run. It appears Gus might be ready to give the true-freshman more a role in the offense.

Final Thoughts...

The loss to Mississippi State is disappointing but not devastating in terms of Auburn’s future. Last year after a similar loss to LSU on the road, the team bounced back after a bye-week and everything fell into place to have an extremely rewarding season. Though MSU clearly has an easier path to maintain their momentum, there are 2 teams remaining on their schedule that could derail their season late. They will likely be favored in every game but one but crazier things have happened in this wonderful game. As disappointing as the beginning of the game was, I was pleased to see the team never stopped battling. They overcame a 21-0 deficit to close the game to 28-20 and were in position to make it a one-score game again until they threw their final pick inside the MSU red zone.

There are some issues about this team that need to be addressed but adjustments and changes won’t mean anything if you have don’t have perseverance. Auburn has a much-needed bye-week to clear their heads to focus on the second-half of the regular season. If they don’t improve, they could likely drop 1-2 more games. If they do improve, they can defeat everyone remaining on their schedule. I said before this season started, this could be a better overall team than the 2013 version but their schedule might be their primary downfall. Despite the 15-point loss to Mississippi State, Auburn still remains as one of the better teams in the country. I have not seen anyone playing better overall football than the teams I’ve observed within the Southeastern Conference.

I told Mark Murphy before the LSU game, I was more concerned about Mississippi State than LSU. Now I have no doubt just how good this Mississippi State can be. The Bulldogs were the better team on Saturday but I reserve the right to not say they are the better team until all the games have been played. LSU was the better team the night they took Auburn by 14-points last season but that clearly was not the case by the end of the season. I do believe they have a good chance of going 12-0 with only Ole Miss in position to take them down. Though I believe they are a better team than Alabama, all it takes is one bad quarter to give Alabama a shot at the upset. With all that being said, I do believe the Bulldogs should be the No. 1 ranked team for now.

I do have faith in the Auburn coaches and players to bounce back from this loss. Except for the first quarter, I thought Auburn played better on the road against Mississippi State than Kansas State. This is based on MSU being a much better overall team than Kansas State and the fact Auburn had to overcome such a major deficit. The bye-week gives us fans a week to gripe and moan about what needs to be fixed and then it is game-week for South Carolina. We as fans have the right to be upset, angry and disappointed, simply because we are all entitled to our opinions. We have one week to get it out of our system folks and prepare to support our team as they begin the second-half of the regular season. The remaining schedule indicates a bumpy road but this team has far more positives than negatives to navigate through it.

War Eagle!

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