It’s acceptable to get beat by a better team it’s ugly to contribute to your own demise in the first half Auburn gifted two interceptions and a fumble. In the second it went from bad to downright ugly. Quarterback Jarrett Stidham was sacked for a 30-yard loss the ball squirted out after a ground flop between players A Taylor recovered it for a Tennessee touchdown.
Auburn was officially in trouble 27-17. They tried a 54-yard field goal, and it was off by a mile. I understand the strategy, but the flip side puts the opponent in scoring distance with a short field, but Malzahn has such faith in his defense they denied the score. But the punt planted Auburn with their backs against the wall own the five-yard line the Vols defense buried them right there and threatened another touchdown with an even shorter field, but the Tigers Defense stood to force a field goal the writing was on the wall 30-17. The Vols made sure no erasers were available for the 84,589 fans that filled Jordan Hare Stadium as they took advantage of their gifts and opportunities. Head Coach Gus Malzhan agreed.
“I think the big picture of the deal was the three turnovers and one of those turnovers led to a touchdown. That was really the difference in the game. Tennessee didn’t turn the ball over, and they had a good third-down plan.
Auburn managed to score again in garbage time to make it look respectable at 30-24, but it was just not a Tiger day Rocky Top had the stage. And the future is bright for the Vols’ offense they are the only team in the nation (130 teams) that does not have at least one start by a senior on offense.
This loss brings about a harsh reality it’s going to be a long season in Auburn.
Auburn started the game in fast break mode. Symbolic of the day Stidham threw too strong for a wide-open Darius Slayton they got it all corrected and methodically marched down the field in 14 plays gathering 75 yards before Chandler Cox punched it in from 1 yard out for the games first score.
Gus Malzhan: On the start
“Obviously, very tough loss and very disappointing. I really felt like we would come out and play our best game. Got off to a good start, things were going good.
Tennessee returned the favor of a field goal which is a signature of the Auburn defense of bending but not breaking. Auburn made it back to the red zone but had to settle for a 20-yard field goal. They were impressive moving the ball but as they have done for most of the season were unable to get over the hump leaving opportunities on the table.
Marquez Calloway closed the first quarter with a spectacular 30-yard reception down the left sideline before the defender could get turned around. Big Kat Bryant planted QB J. Guaranto with a shovel then they blocked the punt Tennessee was heading for trouble. Jarrett Stidham bailed them out by throwing an unadvised interception on the next play. Of course, the Vols made them pay with a 42-yard touchdown pass to T Chandler suddenly the score was 10-10.
On the kickoff, both returners ran together with another symbol. Stidham redeemed himself with a 76-yard touchdown pass to A Swartz. However, most of that was accomplished by the talented receiver with his speed eluding tacklers as he sprinted into the end zone.
Tennessee closed out the first half with a 45-yard field goal to make the score at intermission 17-13 with Auburn leading despite gifting two interceptions and a fumble. The struggle was real.
Tennessee scored on a 25-yard strike from J Guarantano to J Jennings to take the lead 20-17 with three minutes in the third quarter. In one simple statement that was all she wrote and football, the class was dismissed 30-17 prompting Gus Malzhan to say.
On the team’s performance…
“I’m very disappointed in our performance. I thought we would play better and we had a solid week of practice. I’m disappointed for our players, I’m disappointed for our fans, and I’m not happy.”
Interesting Facts of the Game
Aub: Jarrett Stidham 28 of 45 pass attempts for 322 yards with 2 interceptions, 2 touchdowns, and a fumble.
Tenn: J Guarantano 21 of 32 pass attempts for 328 yards and 2 touchdowns