Well, that was a tale of two halves. The Auburn Tigers led Alabama State 20-0 at halftime. That may sound pretty good unless you actually watched the game. The Tiger offense managed only one touchdown in the first two quarters against the visiting Hornets today, even though Auburn has significantly bigger and better players across the board.
Auburn committed more penalties in the first quarter today than they did in the entire game last week.
Auburn quarterback Bo Nix had more incompletions on the first offensive drive against the Hornets than he did in 22 pass attempts against Akron in week one.
After avoiding turning the ball over last week, Tiger quarterback Bo Nix lost a fumble deep in Alabama State territory.
All of that mentions nothing of the several dropped passes, missed blocks and mental errors that were committed by Auburn in the first 30 minutes of play.
The Auburn defense did manage to hold Alabama State scoreless (eventually for the entire game), but the shining star of the first half was the Tigers’ special teams unit.
Auburn blocked a punt to set up the offense with great field position and later blocked a field goal as well that defensive back Nehemiah Pritchett ran back 80 yards for a score. Had the special teams unit not been as spectacular as they were in the first half, the already tense atmosphere in Jordan-Hare Stadium would have been one of panic at halftime.
Whatever was said and done at halftime was clearly effective, as a different-looking Auburn squad emerged in the second half. The Tigers came out with much more focus and were able to badly beat an opponent that was not in their league.
In the third quarter, Auburn had four offensive possessions, and each of them ended in touchdowns. Speedy Auburn receiver Demetris Robertson scored on a beautiful 28-yard pass from Nix and also found the endzone from 36 yards out on a reverse.
Robertson’s touchdowns were immediately followed by the Tigers’ standout cornerback Roger McCreary intercepting a pass and returning it for a score to put Auburn ahead 41-0.
That huge lead meant that new offensive players entered the contest, but the touchdowns were far from over for the home team. Second-team quarterback TJ Finley found receiver Malcolm Johnson, Jr. for a score behind the defense for his first touchdown in his Auburn career.
The final offensive play of the third quarter for Auburn saw freshman tailback Jarquez Hunter break away for a 94 yard touchdown run, the longest in Auburn football history.
When the third quarter was all said and done, the Tigers scored 35 points in that 15-minute period and got the train rolling in the right direction.
Auburn would add one more score in a fourth quarter that both teams were glad to see end, culminating in a 62-0 victory for the home team.
Once Auburn’s offense awoke in the second half, they joined a stellar performance by the defense and special teams, leading to a comprehensive defeat of an outclassed competitor.
The Tigers’ defense held Alabama State to 176 total yards, forced two turnovers and shut out an Auburn opponent for the first time since blanking Samford in November of 2019.
Auburn will need to maintain the focus and execution exhibited in the second half today through this coming week’s preparation and practice because if the Tigers that showed up in the first half against Alabama State are the same ones who get off the bus in State College, Pennsylvania next Saturday night, it could be a long night in Happy Valley.
Zack Shaw is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News and former walk-on for the Auburn Tigers.