A story and a stat to explain why the Tigers have to rank as one of 2015’s early disappointments…
At one point Saturday, Johnson started wearing a glove on his throwing hard after bizarrely losing a fumble. According to CBS Sports sideline reporter Allie LaForce, offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee took the glove off Johnson’s hand, threw it behind the bench and told him he doesn’t need a glove, it’s mental…
… Auburn has allowed 30 or more points in seven straight SEC games and in 56 percent of SEC games since 2010.
So who in the punditocracy becomes the first to go with the Malzahn on the hot seat take?
Count me among those who thought Ellis Johnson was a pretty decent defensive coordinator who was undone at Auburn by the lack of a pass rush last season. For those who believed Boom would be an instant upgrade over Johnson – and judging by the wholesale preseason love for Auburn, there were lots of folks in that camp – this data, from Mr. Conventional Wisdom, of all places, has to come as a bit of a shock.
Auburn is 2-0 but here are the ugly numbers on defense:
* Auburn’s opponents have converted on third down 48.5 percent of the time. That’s 114th nationally.
* Opponents are 10-of-17 on third-down passes.
* The Tigers have given up an average of 199.5 rushing yards per game, which is 96th nationally.
* Auburn’s defense has been on the field for 170 plays in the first two games. That’s more than any team in the conference other than Tennessee (172).
Every one of those stats he cites is worse than last year’s. And don’t forget those are compiled against an 0-3 team and a FCS squad. I don’t think Carl Lawson can fix all of that on his lonesome.
Over at And The Valley Shook, Poseur takes a preview-y look at Auburn and knocks it out of the park.
He’ll be there all week, folks. Try the veal.
Bill Connelly notes that Malzahn’s rabbit’s foot hasn’t made it back to his pocket yet.
Opponents have fumbled seven times so far, but Auburn has recovered only one. Combined with Johnson’s seemingly bad luck, the god of bounces hasn’t been kind to the Tigers. (Those who remember 2013 might call this fair.)
Based on fumbles and the ratio of INTs to passes broken up, Auburn’s expected turnover margin so far has been plus-2.3. Auburn’s actual turnover margin has been minus-3, a difference of 5.3. Turnovers are worth about five points on average, so you could say turnovers luck has cost Auburn about 13 points in each game so far.
As Bill notes, some of what’s ailed Auburn early is fixable. But you can’t fix luck.
If you want something a little more detailed than today’s “Not your regular preseason picks” post – okay, a lot more detailed – David Wunderlich has taken it upon himself to game out the wins and losses for every SEC team’s regular season. Whew.
You’ll love his conclusion, which has Georgia losing to Alabama in the regular season on its way to a CFP appearance, but that’s not the part of his post I want to applaud. This is:
As I said in my Auburn preview post, though, Muschamp struggles against Georgia.
If there’s one thing I haven’t gotten from what many pundits in the preseason expect, it’s chalking up the Auburn game as an almost given loss for Georgia. For one thing, over the past ten years, the Dawgs have been competitive at the least on the Plains. For another, as David states, Muschamp’s had his ups and down defending Georgia’s offenses. And it’s not as if Auburn is going to roll out Florida-like talent on the defensive side of the ball this season.
I’m not saying this to prove a win’s in the bank for the Dawgs. I just don’t understand the confidence so many have in the possibility that it’s an automatic loss.
Dude, the word you’re looking for is “Auburn“.