Sunday, September 22, 2013
What we learned: Week 4
By Greg Ostendorf
Auburn overcame a horrendous start to hang with No. 6 LSU, but the visiting Tigers lost for the first time this season, 35-21. Here are three things we learned from Saturday’s game:
Nick Marshall struggled at times against LSU, but he also showed some moxie in his first road start.
Auburn didn’t give up: It would’ve been easy to throw in the towel at halftime. The weather was nasty. LSU had dominated on both sides of the ball. Auburn trailed 21-0 and probably wanted nothing more than to get back home. But this team kept fighting -- all the way through the end of the game. The offense picked it up in the second half, scoring touchdowns on three of its first five drives. The defense held LSU to just one first down on its final three drives in the fourth quarter. It looked like the game could get out of hand early on, but Auburn battled and made it respectable. The talent might not be there yet for Gus Malzahn and his staff, but they have to be happy with the effort.
There will be growing pains for Nick Marshall: The first-year quarterback grew up before our very eyes in last week’s game-winning drive against Mississippi State, but it didn’t prepare him for what would be his first road game at LSU. Marshall was just 6 of 16 in the first half with 31 yards and an interception. He also fumbled an exchange with running back Cameron Artis-Payne that led to a turnover on Auburn’s first drive. In his defense, the rain played a major role in the offense’s struggles through the first two quarters, and Marshall played better in the second half. He finished the game 17 of 33 for 224 yards and two interceptions. Overall, it wasn’t his finest outing, but he showed progress and got through his first road start.
The defense needs improve against the run: Through the first three games, the Auburn defense was making just enough plays to overcome the copious amount of yards they giving up to opposing teams. It finally caught up to them Saturday. The Tigers had no answer for LSU’s Jeremy Hill, who rushed for 183 yards and three touchdowns. He had 172 yards in the first half alone. As a team, LSU rushed for 224 yards and averaged 5.2 yards per carry. Last week, Auburn gave up over 200 rushing in a win over Mississippi State. It can’t expect to win many SEC games giving up that many yards on the ground. It gets a week off to fix the problem, but the defense needs to play better if the Tigers want to beat Ole Miss in two weeks.