Postgame analysis of Auburn's 30-24 loss to Tennessee:
THREE THINGS WORTH TALKING ABOUT
Gus Malzahn parlayed wins over then-No. 1 teams Georgia and Alabama — and Arkansas’ interest in him — into a $49-million contract extension.
Auburn is going to be paying for it one way or the other for years.
Either a $30 million buyout now or being saddled with a ball-and-chain for a head coach driving Auburn’s football program into the ground.
Saturday’s loss to Tennessee — a team that had not won an SEC game since November 2016 — will not be soon forgotten but will stand as mark of ineptitude on the Plains that will sting for decades.
A setback dropped Auburn to 4-3 but will likely have the Tigers on course for a sub.-500 season with its only potential win coming against Liberty on Nov. 17. Auburn faces No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Georgia on the road and plays No. 22 Texas A&M at home Nov. 3.
It’s beginning to resemble the ill-fated 2012 season when coach Gene Chizik was fired following a 49-0 loss to Alabama in Tuscaloosa … Auburn fans may be hoping history repeats itself.
Stidham at QB
The accolades heading into the season were extensive. Quarterback Jarrett Stidham had the accuracy, poise and decision-making to lead Auburn to continued national prominence this season.
It has not happened … and it may not happen the rest of the year. It’s mid-way through the season and Stidham’s flaws exposed the last few weeks continued to the come to the surface against the Volunteers.
He missed Darius Slayton deep for an apparent touchdown — after doing the same thing with Slayton last week against Mississippi State.
He threw two first-half interceptions with defenders draped over him. The first allowed the Vols to tie the score at 10-10. The Tigers were fortunate to force a punt after the second interception, but Auburn led only 17-13 at halftime in a game it should have been dominating.
Forecasting Stidham’s performance against the likes of national powers Georgia and Alabama … be worried my friends, be worried, you have not seen anything else to make you think otherwise.
Guarantano steals show
Heading into the game, Auburn was thought to have the edge at quarterback. That didn’t prove to be the case. Tennessee’s Jarrett Guarantano completed 21 of 32 passes for 328 yards and two touchdowns. He completed passes to nine receivers.
He showed pinpoint accuracy on plays downfield to Marquez Callaway, Ty Chandler, Josh Palmer and Jauan Jennings. If Guarantano was given time, he dissected the Tigers’ secondary.
Meanwhile, Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham was intercepted twice, missed Darius Slayton deep for an apparent touchdown and saw Slayton drop an apparent touchdown in the fourth quarter of a humbling loss. The quarterback edges goes to the Vols.
Rushing offense — C: The up-tempo rushing attack altered the Tigers’ fortunes as they broke the 100-yard rushing mark before halftime … after failing to gain 100 yards in each of their last three games.
Rushing defense — A: After struggling with Nick Fitzgerald last week and the Tigers put a stop to the ground game limiting the Vols to two yards per carry.
Passing offense — D: Quarterback Jarrett Stidham missed Darius Slayton for an apparent touchdown and his two interceptions under severe pressure and fumble on a sack ere critical to the loss.
Passing defense — F: Tennessee showed it has some quality receivers and a quarterback with the arm to get them the ball ... and void of pressure up front, Auburn’s secondary could not guard them.
Special teams — B: Marlon Davidson blocked a kick for the second straight week and the Tigers recovered an onside kick, but Anders Carlson missed badly on another long field goal attempt.
Coaching — D: The Tigers woke up a dormant offense a little, but critical mistakes doomed Auburn to a humiliating loss to league’s worst team.
Overall — F: The defense slowed down Tennessee’s ground game but other than it was a complete disaster for a team that had championship aspirations coming into the season.