Auburn-Florida postgame – Quick hits
No. 7 Auburn got handed its first loss of the season against the No. 10 Florida Gators Saturday in Gainesville.
While the quality of play did not exactly live up to the hype surrounding this meeting of two top-10 teams, here are a few takeaways in the immediate aftermath:
Auburn PD probably received a few missing person reports for Boobie Whitlow. Midway through the third quarter, Whitlow caught a ball on the sidelines which had been thrown away by Florida quarterback Kyle Trask. It seemed as if that was the first time Whitlow had gotten his hands on the ball.
Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn has said he wants to carefully measure Whitlocks’s carries in anticipation of the second half of the season. But I’m not sure this was what he had in mind. Whitlow had five carries for six yards in the first half. Whitlow picked up the pace a bit later in the third quarter and ended up with 81 yards on 18 carries but Auburn was never able to establish the run at critical moments.
Whitlow appeared to be frustrated after not receiving the ball on a second down RPO call midway through the third quarter, as there was open grass in front of him. One play later, quarterback Bo Nix threw an interception on his third down throw to the endzone.
Kevin Steele vs. Dan Mullen may have been the most fascinating matchup in the game. Auburn’s highly-ranked defense got stretched to the brink because of the struggles of the offense and the resulting disparity in plays. But the chess match which occurred for most of the game was worth the watch alone.
Every time one found a soft spot in the other’s unit, adjustments were made and a big play happened. Whether it was Steele’s response to the Florida crossing routes or Mullen’s response to the incessant pressure on his quarterback, these were two of the best coaches for their respective sides of the ball in the SEC.
Third down was not kind to the Tigers today. The offense looked out of sync all day and it struggled when it needed to execute the most – on third down. Auburn finished the game going 2 for 14 on third down conversions after going 1 for 8 on third down in the first half. They failed to convert on their first four third downs when needing three yards or less (see Whitlow above).
This is really a function of an offensive line which struggled to contain an active Florida front all day. However, you have to think there will be a fairly intense self-scout of third down play calls in the Auburn football offices this week.
Florida may have won but the recovery leading up to LSU next week is not going to be easy for them. The physicality of Auburn’s defense cannot be understated in a game like this. In the first quarter, middle linebacker K.J. Britt met the running back in the hole and delivered a vicious blow. It’s not often you see a running back getting knocked out at the line of scrimmage.
The Auburn pass rush recorded four sacks, and by the end of the game Trask was visibly tired of getting hit.
Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia