Auburn Football: What went right/wrong vs. Kentucky

Auburn came away with 29-13 win at home against the Kentucky Wildcats. There were numerous encouraging efforts on Saturday. Of course, there are some things the Tigers still need to work on. It was the season opener, so this may seem knit picky at times. Overall, the Auburn football Tigers played a good game. Therefore, let’s start with what fans should be excited about with the 2020 Auburn Tigers.

Encouraging Performances

Bo Nix, QB

Nix looked comfortable in the pocket on Saturday. Sometimes in 2019, he would feel the rush earlier than he needed to and immediately take off to run. Against the Wildcats, Nix was patient and kept his eyes downfield. He also made some incredible throws. The first touchdown to Seth Williams could not have been in a better spot. Nix finished his day going 16-27 passing with 233 yards and three touchdowns.

The Wide Receivers

Williams is an absolute beast. He manhandled a Kentucky defender to catch his second touchdown. Williams looked a lot quicker and slimmer without losing any strength. Eli Stove took the top off the defense for a nice touchdown. Anthony Schwartz caught three passes for 40 yards. Expect offensive coordinator Chad Morris to utilize Schwartz and Stove in down-the-field opportunities more. The freshmen crop of receivers should get more chances as the year moves along.

Offensive Line (Pass Protection)

The new-look offensive line gave up just one sack on Saturday. It looked good at protecting Nix. Some of the credit should go to the awareness and athleticism of Nix, but still one sack is not bad. This unit will face a much tougher test this week against a nasty Georgia defense.

Every Level of the Defense

From the defensive line to the secondary the Auburn defense looked stout. Defensive coordinator Kevin Steele adjusted at halftime to counter some of Kentucky’s looks on offense. The four receivers to one side of the formation comes to mind. That worked for Kentucky in the first half but not in the second half. Third-down defense also improved in the second half. The secondary looked deep and lethal. We knew the linebackers were good. We knew D-line coach Rodney Garner would have his troops ready, but the secondary was as advertised. Jaylin Simpson looked good, earning Freshman of the Week honors from the SEC. Roger McCreary, Smoke Monday and Jamien Sherwood picked up where they left off last year.


Auburn took care of the ball, outside of a couple bad snaps. Nix threw the ball into coverage a few times but did not put his throws at risk very often. Auburn forced three turnovers, two fumble recoveries and an interception. Two of those turnovers came when Kentucky was threatening. That ended up being the difference in the game.

Special Teams

Safety Jordyn Peters stuffed a fake punt attempt to set up a short field for Nix and company. Kick and punt coverage looked solid. Also, the punting unit pinned the Wildcats deep a couple times, both times coming on a pooch punts from Nix. Auburn’s kick returners produced a couple nice returns.

Concerning Performances

Rushing Offense

The Tigers ran for just 91 yards and one touchdown against Kentucky. The Tigers averaged a measly three yards per rush. The offensive line will need to create more push this week against Georgia. Running the ball effectively will be paramount against the Bulldogs. Nix and his receivers are good, but Georgia’s defense is too good for Auburn to be one-dimensional. Its pass rush and secondary are among the best in the league. If Auburn wants to move the ball consistently, it will need a much better performance from the O-line and the running backs.

Third Down

Auburn converted four of 10 third downs, which is not bad. The defense of the other hand allowed 12 third down conversions on 20 attempts. Again, the second half was much better for this Auburn defense on third down. This is not a major concern, but getting off the field on third down will be important moving forward.

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