Grading Auburn’s forty two-16 win in opposition t Mercer -

Auburn took care of business in it season opener Saturday evening, making quick work of Mercer in Week 1.

The Tigers jumped out to a 28-0 lead on their option to a forty two-sixteen win, leaving little doubt towards their FCS opponent whereas snapping the five-online game losing streak they ended closing season on. It was far from a perfect efficiency from Bryan Harsin's team, and there might be an awful lot to enhance upon in Week 2 against San Jose State and moving forward. but Auburn is where it desired to be: 1-0 to open the yr, and an opportunity to build on that.

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analysis of Auburn's season-opening win

So, with that in intellect, let's hand out some position-by way of-position grades for Auburn's Week 1 win.

Quarterbacks: C+

Auburn debuted a two-quarterback device against Mercer, using starter T.J. Finley and backup Robby Ashford, with each rotating on numerous drives and even seeing the field collectively on the same play at one element. whereas the two-quarterback system turned into positive, the play at quarterback wasn't all incredible. Finley started powerful, completing eight of his first 9 passes for 100 yards and a touchdown, but struggled on his final two drives — both of which resulted in interceptions. Ashford, meanwhile, was 4-of-7 passing for 100 yards and introduced a different sixty eight yards on six contains, with an extended of 49. Auburn showed it's confident in each quarterbacks, however it also confirmed it could possibly have some lingering questions on the place moving ahead—and positively room for growth in the passing game.

running backs: A+

Auburn couldn't have requested for an awful lot extra from its one-two punch at operating lower back—or as Finley described it, a one-one punch—in Tank Bigsby and Jarquez Hunter. Bigsby ran for 147 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 16 contains, averaging 9.2 yards per run, whereas Hunter delivered 34 yards and three touchdowns on eight contains. The sophomore became the primary Auburn player to run for 3 touchdowns in a video game on account that Boobee Whitlow did it against Mississippi State in 2019.

extensive receivers: B

Auburn attempted just 21 passes on the night, with a handful going to operating backs and three greater to tight ends. best 13 passes have been thrown to the huge receivers, with Ja'Varrius Johnson leading the manner. The redshirt junior caught all 4 of his aims for 117 yards, together with receptions of fifty six and forty yards. Shedrick Jackson additionally caught all 4 of his aims for 47 yards. Tar'Varish Dawson's one seize transformed a third down, and he additionally drew a flow interference name just earlier than the lightning delay that in the end deploy Bigsby's 2d landing of the evening. on the very least, Saturday confirmed some glimpses of promise from a comparatively young and inexperienced receiving corps, with plenty of room for increase within the passing game.

Tight ends: B+

John Samuel Shenker caught two of the three passes thrown his method for 25 yards and a landing. He hauled in a 1-yard touchdown flow from Finley within the first quarter that became the sixth-yr senior's first in practically three years (Sept. 21, 2019, at Texas A&M). Auburn got plenty of use out of its tight ends once again, and the position will proceed to adapt within the offense. Saturday wasn't a nasty beginning, in particular in the event you factor within the work they did in assisting with blockading on a night the Tigers rushed for 285 yards and five touchdowns.

Offensive line: A

essentially the most scrutinized place on Auburn's roster dealt with its enterprise towards an inferior opponent. the road stored the pocket clean for Finley and Ashford, not permitting a sack or a rush on the night. The unit additionally cleared the path for a powerful speeding assault, as Auburn almost hit 300 yards on the ground and scored 5 speeding touchdowns while averaging 7 yards per lift as a group. no longer bad for a gaggle that changed into breaking in two first-time starters in core Tate Johnson and correct take care of Kam Stutts.

line of defense: A-

Auburn's defensive line held a match measurement knowledge over Mercer's offensive line, and it confirmed within the container rating. The Tigers held the Bears to 74 yards rushing and just 2.4 yards per keep on the nighttime. although Auburn became credited with only one sack and three tackles for loss, the line of defense managed the line of scrimmage—at the least unless the weather prolong hit late within the third quarter. outside of the short field Mercer was talented off Finley's first interception, Auburn's protection didn't allow the Bears to cross midfield except early within the fourth quarter, when the online game become well in hand.

Linebackers: A

Welcome to the exhibit, Cam Riley. The junior linebacker became the megastar of the evening for Auburn's defense, racking up a game-excessive 15 tackles, 9 of them solo stops, and adding a quarterback hurry. His total tackles in opposition t Mercer surpassed his complete from ultimate season (14). Owen Pappoe added four tackles in his tons-anticipated return after an ankle injury cost him most of final season. Plus, the unit become pivotal in limiting Mercer to just 74 yards speeding on the evening.

Secondary: B-

Auburn's secondary is replacing a whole lot from last season, and whereas there's clearly loads of skill on the again conclusion, it's nevertheless a work in progress for the Tigers. Mercer quarterback Fred Payton achieved 21-of-36 passes for 197 yards and a pair of touchdowns, both to Devron Harper. although it was just 5.5 yards allowed per move attempt, Auburn's secondary nevertheless stands to tighten up some things heading into Week 2. worth noting: Nehemiah Pritchett had a pair of pass breakups, whereas safeties Zion Puckett and Donovan Kaufman each and every had considered one of their own.

particular teams: A-

It became a reasonably convenient evening for Auburn's experts: Anders Carlson was ultimate on further elements and didn't attempt a field goal, whereas Oscar Chapman only had to punt once (it went 29 yards and went out of bounds and pinned Mercer at its own 11-yard line within the 2nd quarter). within the return game, Keionte Scott had a few first-class punt returns, together with an extended of 17. A slight ding to the ordinary grade as a result of the running into the kicker penalty in the fourth quarter that extended a scoring pressure for Mercer—on a punt attempt that had an errant snap that sailed lower back towards the Bears' own goal line.

Coaches: A

Auburn accomplished its aim of opening the season 1-0 and ending its 5-game losing streak, and it didn't play with its food in opposition t an overmatched opponent. Harsin and Eric Kiesau developed an exceptional offensive gameplan and confirmed some creativity of their play-calling, with some distinctive appears (together with two quarterbacks on the field for a trick play that resulted in a 21-yard benefit), as well as a in shape dose of Bigsby and Hunter on the floor. They also perceived to handle the quarterback rotation smartly, all things regarded. Defensively, Auburn's starting unit become dialed in for many of the nighttime. perhaps most stunning changed into the group of workers's skill to retain the crew focused through a weather prolong that lasted nearly 90 minutes; the Tigers scored a 39-yard touchdown on their first play after the lengthen.

Tom eco-friendly is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media neighborhood. observe him on Twitter @Tomas_Verde.

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