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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Final: Auburn 54, Ball State 30

Another easy win for Auburn. Here's how tomorrow's story starts:
AUBURN, Ala. — The rout everyone anticipated took longer to get underway than expected on a soggy Saturday night at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Nevertheless, Auburn eventually took care of business in a lopsided 54-30 win against Ball State before an announced crowd of 83,118, getting through September unbeaten for the first time since 2006.

"We didn't always play like we had hoped," Auburn head coach Gene Chizik said. "Obviously there were some really sloppy moments in the game. It didn't look like we were in sync a lot of times. The bottom line is right now we found a way to win again."

Quarterback Chris Todd tied a school record with five touchdown passes to lead Auburn (4-0), which finished with 560 yards of total offense, the third time in four games Gus Malzahn's up-tempo offense has topped the 500-yard mark. After scoring 208 points all of last season, the Tigers have already scored 181 through four games this year.

"We really just had some guys who made some big plays," said Todd, who tied Daniel Cobb's five-touchdown mark that was set against Louisiana Tech in 2001. "We kind of credit that to the entire offense."
Three things to read from Saturday's game:
  1. My game story: Late to start, Tigers find way to win again
  2. My notes: No-so special teams give AU more problems
  3. Some superlatives: A closer look at Auburn's win over Ball State
Make sure to follow the blog on Twitter. Then read some extra stats and notes ...
  • Despite the big win, Auburn had a sluggish start. The Tigers trailed 7-0 early on and were tied 7-7 after the first quarter. "You can't let bad quarters get to you and you just need to keep
  • your head up," running back Onterio McCalebb said. "We came out with a better game plan and did what we had to do."
  • Ball State coach Stan Parrish had some humor in his post-game press conference. The Cardinals gave up a ton of yards in a GMAC Bowl loss a Malzahn-led Tulsa offense last January. "Last year, Gus Malzahn got 600 yards on us, but he only had 560 yards this time," Parrish said. "We allowed too many big plays and you can't play like that."
  • Todd's been hot lately. That's nine touchdowns in the last two games for the senior. Auburn had seven touchdown passes all of last year. "I think with each game he's feeling more comfortable with everything that goes with it, as far as reading defenses, protections, what they're giving us, what their different coverages are," Malzahn said. "He made some real good plays tonight."
  • Terrell Zachery was his favorite target with five catches for 122 yards and two touchdowns. Their first hookup, a screen pass that went for 46 yards, gave Auburn a 14-7 lead early in the second quarter. The second, a 65-yard bomb over the defense, made it 30-7. "He's a great kid. He works hard," Malzahn said. "He knows one speed and that's full speed. And when a kid like that has a big game, it's a lot of fun for a coach."
  • The Tigers did things quickly. The longest of their four first-half touchdown drives was one minute, 50 seconds. "You take them when you can get them at this level," Malzahn said.
  • Defensively, the Tigers allowed 260 yards, although much of that came late after Auburn put in its second- and third-stringers. Ball State had only 72 yards of offense at halftime. Auburn continued to be aggressive, forcing two more turnovers, giving the Tigers 12 on the season. "The first group played pretty well with the exception of the first drive of the third quarter. I was disappointed in that," defensive coordinator Ted Roof said. "The first half, I thought we played really well. I thought we were much better on third down. We got another defense score so there are a lot of positives."
  • Linebacker Josh Bynes added another highlight, shooting through the line and stuffing running back MiQuale Lewis in the end zone for a safety, the first recorded by an individual Auburn defender since 1998.
  • We found this out after the game: offensive guard Byron Isom has been suspended indefinitely by Chizik. True freshman John Sullen started at right guard and Mike Berry, who normally plays on the right side, moved to the left. That's one major chink in the offensive line's armor. There aren't many more capable players beyond the five who are currently on the field. Just something to watch the next few weeks.
  • There were two injuries of note: QB Kodi Burns suffered a quad injury after taking a helmet to the thigh in the first quarter. He said he'll be back for Tennessee. McCalebb twisted an ankle on a fake punt in the second quarter. He was on the sideline in the second half but did not play. On playing against the Vols, he said: "I don’t have any doubts I’ll be ready."
  • Special teams will continue to be a focus this week after another less-than-thrilling performance. Among the lowlights:
  • Anthony Gulley muffed one punt (Auburn lost possession) and fumbled another after he made a short return. Quindarius Carr replaced him but didn't get a chance to catch the ball.
  • Auburn tried and failed on a fake punt deep in its own territory despite leading 30-7 at the time.
  • Morgan Hull kicked a ball out of bounds on a kickoff.
  • McCalebb had a 33-yard kick return brought back because of a holding penalty.
  • The punt team took a delay of game penalty after shifting around too many times before the snap.
  • Some stats on offense:
  • McCalebb: 8 carries, 83 yards, 1 TD
  • RB Ben Tate: 13 carries, 63 yards
  • QB Neil Caudle: 1 carry, 52 yards, 1 TD (that's not a typo)
  • RB Eric Smith: 7 carries, 47 yards
  • WR Darvin Adams: 5 catches, 73 yards, 1 TD
  • H-Back Mario Fannin: 3 catches, 55 yards, 1 TD
  • Some stats on defense:
  • S Daren Bates: 7 tackles, .5 sacks, 1.5 TFL
  • Bynes: 6 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 FR
  • CB Neiko Thorpe: 6 tackles
  • LB Craig Stevens: 6 tackles, .5 sacks
  • DE Dee Ford: 4 tackles, 1 sack
  • Despite the win, Chizik was left with little indication of if his team is ready to begin the SEC portion of its schedule in earnest next week with a trip to Knoxville to play Tennessee. "Whether I feel like it or not, that’s where we’re going," he said. "We’ve got to get a lot of things cleaned up. It’s a very young team, and a very thin team, and it’s a good football team we’ll be playing."


rossinalabama said...

You are the best reporter covering Auburn Football. You should get a bonus! I've lived in the Columbus area for 26 years...we've never had coverage this detailed with so many articles, updates, links etc. The Isom news is really unfortunate...I hate to see a freshman be put in that position against Tenn. Then again maybe it will pay dividends down the road.

PaulsHealthBlog.com said...

I really like Auburn's offense, having seen coach Gus Malzahn run it in high school.

If I were a high school recruit, I would love to play for Malzahn or Dana Holgorsen, the offensive coordinator at the U of Houston.


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