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Auburn pushes defending champs to edge in close loss

Following a loss to Texas A&M last week in its SEC opener, it was apparent that the Auburn Tigers had massive problems on offense, especially at the quarterback position.

As a result, with the 2x defending national champion Georgia Bulldogs coming to town, not many gave Auburn any shot at toppling the Dawgs.

But the Tigers were able to give Georgia quite the scare in a 27-20 loss that came down to the final possession at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Auburn came out in the first half with a very specific game plan in mind. They were going to run the ball on the Georgia defense. Given that second team pre-season All American defensive back Javon Bullard was returning from injury, it was likely a sound decision.

The game plan Hugh Freeze came out with proved extremely successful, with the Tigers rushing for 145 yards in the first half and 61 of them coming from the legs of Payton Thorne. This strategy continued well into the second half.

It is obvious, however, that Hugh Freeze just does not fully trust Thorne to throw the ball. Several specific examples stood out. The most obvious was during the first drive, after the 61 yard run, with Auburn bogged down inside the red zone and facing a 3rd and 4.

After a timeout, Auburn chose a running play and settled for an opening field goal. It was a curious play call to say the least.

Auburn only threw for 88 yards total today (82 of them from Thorne, 6 of them from Ashford). Once again the Tiger defense was strong and gave Carson Beck plenty of trouble.

Unfortunately for Auburn, however, Brock Bowers exists, and very well may be the best player in all of college football. After a quiet first half, the Georgia superstar tight end accounted for 148 yards as well as what proved to be the game winning touchdown in the final minutes:

Bowers simply took the game over and Auburn had no answer for him whatsoever. Not many teams do.

For everything that Auburn did well today, the same problems persist. They flat out cannot throw the ball right now. In 2023 college football, especially in the SEC, you cannot hope to defeat any team with a pulse without a passing threat on your offense.

It’s hard to see anything changing significantly with the personnel that the Tigers currently have on offense.

All this being said, let’s give Auburn some due credit. They fought for 60 minutes in a game where nobody gave them a shot and took the 2x defending champs to the wire.

While it may take some time, it’s never been more clear that Hugh Freeze was the right hire for the Auburn Tigers.

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