SNAP JUDGMENTS: #10 Penn State 28, #22 Auburn 20

Sunday, September 19, 2021

SNAP JUDGMENTS: #10 Penn State 28, #22 Auburn 20

Auburn v Penn State
Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

It was there.

Auburn lost to Penn State 28-20 at Beaver Stadium last night (about 8 hours ago, actually), and it’s time to get the thoughts of those of us who watched and learned.


We found out a lot about Auburn. Unfortunately we found out we don’t really have a WR1 on the squad right now and it hurt us. I’m happy with the play of the o line and backfield actually on offense. Not thrilled with the defense especially in the red zone. Whatever, at least this game doesn’t really count for conference

PS. Keep the facemasks. This loss had nothing to do with what color they were. They look cool. Superstition is for primitive people groups and we are a science school.

-Son of Crow

We gifted them a free touchdown after halftime. We also gifted them several free touchdowns by not covering their receivers in the end zone. And yet, there we were, clinging to every second of those final drives. Auburn found a way to stay in it, somehow. This team can still be really good. Also - not impressed with the white out. We had like two false starts all game? Some crowd noise.


We found out Saturday night Auburn is a good football team. We also found out they aren’t yet a great one. Some holes in the roster were spotlighted but my biggest concern is that I felt AU was outcoached on both sides of the ball. To Mike Bobo’s credit, AU’s offense did a better job in 2nd half up until that absolutely horrendous redzone series. Defensively, I am really concerned with Derek Mason moving forward. Sean Clifford threw 4 incomplete passes. He did that because AU spent most of the night dropping 7 or 8 and he just picked it apart. A lot of improvement needed as SEC season approaches starting with the coaching staff. Good news is AU has 2 special running backs who are gonna will this team to some Ws this year.

-AU Nerd

Well after 2 easy games, we all knew that we would learn a lot more about Auburn tonight. We’ve got a long way to go BUT I think there’s hope for this team. Auburn got next to no pressure on Clifford all night long and he had one of his better performances in a Penn State uniform. Also targeting is the worst enforced rule in all of sports. What else was Zakoby supposed to do there, let him score a TD? Fix the rule and fix it now.

Offensively, run the dang ball!!!! They did it a lot in the second half and were able to move the ball down the field with mostly positive results. Get Tank Bigsby and Jarquez Hunter the ball more!! Those 2 are quite the RB duo.

As for the playcalling: this will certainly be a huge talking point. Harsin has talked about a 4th and 1 mentality since his arrival and so I was very curious how the 4th Quarter would start with that scenario at the Penn State 26. They kicked the FG but that seemed to slow the momentum Auburn had built. The first play of the second half??? Very costly and made the next drive as great as it was frustrating for me because that’s how they should have started the half, not after going down 21-10. And of course the 4th and Goal fade call….. not a fan when you’ve got one of the best RBs in the country. Still, it’s one of the better 2nd halfs I’ve seen on the road from Auburn in a game like this in quite awhile, which was a nice change from the previous regime.

All in all, I’m happy that games like this are on the schedule going forward. It’s a great barometer to see where you’re at before SEC play. Long way to go but this team has potential. War Eagle!

-Will McLaughlin

Whole lotta problems on D defending the RPO. Whole lotta problems in the middle of the defensive line. Whole lotta problems with WRs who aren’t ready to be great. Whole lotta problems on the right side of the OL getting stood up.

And I don’t want to talk about any of it. The identity of this football team is to feed your backs the ball and stay ahead of the sticks. We all knew that coming into the season. So why in the world are you running a gimmick play to open the 2nd half that ends up gifting the home team a touchdown that is the difference in the game? Why are you throwing late in the first half, and almost give up a pick 6 for your effort, and have to punt back to Penn St. with 2 timeouts in their pocket? Especially when you get the ball to start the second half? Those two offensive possessions are all on coaching and are why we didn’t steal a game against a team that likely deserved to win.

Kudos to Bo Nix. 57% completion on the road for the first time in a new offense isn’t a stellar outing, but I can’t blame him for the loss (since the pick 6 was ultimately dropped). He has improved and deserves to have this fan base cut him a little slack this week.

Kudos to Nick Brahams, who bailed out Keiondre Jones many times tonight and generally looked like he belonged out there.

Kudos to the running backs, who are the identity of this offense. Jarquez has been the answer we’ve so desperately needed to spell Tank.

Kudos to Anders Carlson, who did everything we asked of him. Same for Oscar Chapman.

Look this sucks. But this is a far more teachable loss than Clemson in 2017. No one looked to be injured after this game and we’ve got an overmatched opponent next week. Learn from this. And go make history in Baton Rouge in 2 weeks.

-Josh Black

Dammit. Dammit dammit dammit. It was all there for us. We just didn’t take it. Defense wasn’t up to the task at hand. Bo wasn’t perfect. He got little to no help from his receivers.

The White Out had zero to do with Auburn losing that game. I’ve been to a dozen other college stadiums, and I’ve never seen a more poorly managed atmosphere. The concourses are too small, and there are nowhere near enough concessions workers. It literally took all of halftime plus two possessions to get a bottle of water. They play the same whitebread songs constantly. They don’t let the band do anything. It might as well be an NFL game. But hey it was almost as loud as LSU, and all your fans wore the same color, so good job?

The fans were nice enough, and I had a GREAT time pregame, but we nearly missed kickoff because no one knows how to get people into the damn stadium.

-James Jones

-AU Chief

If you made a list of the different position groups and checked boxes on whether or not you thought they succeeded in last night’s game, you might come away with the thought that Auburn won in Happy Valley. Unfortunately, the unchecked boxes weighed heavier than the checked ones.

Auburn’s offensive line did the job, so did the running backs, and so did Bo Nix for the most part. Auburn’s wide receivers did just about nothing last night, and the coaching staff didn’t put them in a position to win. It appeared like Auburn played super safe to start the game, trying not to test Penn State downfield, and they ran nearly everything into the boundary, effectively chopping the area that the Nittany Lion defense had to guard by about a third. I wasn’t sure what the game plan was going in, but it gave me a bad trip flashback to Clemson 2016 and some other assorted Gus Malzahn schemes.

Auburn ran the ball pretty well, with Tank Bigsby and Jarquez Hunter doing a great job keeping the offense moving at times. I thought that we were getting a hero moment with Hunter’s hurdle on Auburn’s late drive that stalled at the goal line, but it wasn’t to be. It was definitely a sign of things to come with him, though. Tank will absolutely destroy LSU in two weeks, and I’m excited to see him the rest of the year.

The receivers, though. They showed little fight, and couldn’t help out Bo Nix when he put the ball where it needed to be. There were some tough potential catches, but they’ve got to meet him halfway. Or maybe take a page out of Penn State’s book, where Sean Clifford was 28-32 for almost 300 yards. They gave him chances to complete passes and let the receivers do the job. He didn’t complete anything that went more than about 15-20 yards through the air, but the offense put the playmakers in good positions.

Auburn had no idea how to handle it on defense, and still almost pulled it out. What can be said about Zakoby’s ejection for targeting that hasn’t already been said? It’s a terrible rule, and while his presence probably doesn’t stop that last touchdown, his absence certainly didn’t help. Derek Mason seemingly made no adjustments, and Auburn didn’t get any pressure on Clifford. You have to mix it up, you have to bring a blitz every now and then, and you have to figure out ways to confuse him. It didn’t happen.

And yet Auburn was still there. Really, the Kobe Hudson fumble was the difference in the game. Auburn made up the 11 point deficit there, and if they’re able to not gift Penn State an extra possession, perhaps the defense is a little more tired later and the Tigers punch it in at the goal line. Too many what-ifs. Auburn didn’t make many more mistakes than you might normally expect, but Penn State didn’t make any. It’s a loss on the road to a good team, and it won’t affect the way that Auburn plays in the SEC. If the Tigers are 4-1 in two weeks with Georgia coming in, we’ll feel pretty good and still have everything in front of us.

-Jack Condon

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