Quarterback - C+
Nick Marshall's run game saved this grade alone. Sure, he completed 11 of his 17 passes, but how many of those passes were five yards or greater? I'm sure not many, as he only threw for 93 yards. The majority of the junior's completions come from bubble screens and a few short slants, here and there. Are we every going to witness some consistency from Nick? This year? Two passes in particular just made me cringe in frustration. The first was a missed wide-open Brandon Fulse, streaking down the sidelines, when the second came just one play later with a throw behind true-freshman, Marcus Davis, that was lucky to not have been intercepted. Nick's first half passing performance was so bad that the entire second half consisted of read-options and designed quarterback draws in order to actually move the ball and eat away the clock. Auburn has a quarterback...he's being redshirted.
Running Back - B
Nick Marshall carried the run game last Saturday, as he gained 140 yards on the ground, which naturally, took away yardage from our trio of backs. It's hard to give this unit anything less than a B, so I'm gonna stick it right at that point. Cameron Artis-Payne (CAP) did some heavy duty work on Saturday, as he only carried the ball five times, but for a whopping 49 yards, which according to my calculations is 9.8 yards per carry. Ever since the Washington State opener, Corey Grant has slowly disappeared, as he only carried the ball twice against the Rebels. Any reason as to why?
Wide Receivers - D-/B+
This unit deserves two grades...one in relation to the passing game (D-) and one for blocking on the outside (B+). You know it was a rough and unproductive night for this unit if a running back (Tre Mason) led the team in reception yards (62) and catches (3). The step-back from this unit is also contributed to the fact that a change in offensive play-calling occurred at halftime, which displayed a huge spike for the run game in the second half. Blocking wise, the receivers created some great space for Marshall to run wild on the outside against the Rebel defense.
Offensive Line - A
Once again, another great showing by this unit, as they paved the way for a Tiger's run game that rushed for 282 yards and three touchdowns. Not a single Rebel defender reached Nick Marshall in the pocket, as once again, this unit didn't allow a single sack all night. Against a defensive line unit that was averaging about seven tackles for loss per game, thee Tigers' line only allowed four last Saturday.
Now, onto the defense...
Defensive Line - A
I think this crew has finally come into its own. Who knew that Nosa Eguae would shine in the defensive tackle spot? I certainly had my doubts when I heard the news of the move. The senior, Eguae, transferred his burst of speed from the end position to the tackle spot that proved just enough to penetrate the Rebels' o-line. This unit combined to reach six total sacks on the night, which is the most by an Auburn team since the "Honk if you sacked Brodie" game. And oh my goodness, can we just talk about Carl Lawson for a second? The true-freshman had his coming out party against Ole Miss, as he accounted for two of the six sacks on the night, including the game winning sack that put the game away on fourth down. Included with that spectacular play was a spectacular dance to go along with it, now pegged....the "Carl-ton". (Courtesy of @WarBlogle)
Linebackers - B
Not much action from this group, due to a heavy emphasis on the Rebels' passing game, but worth mentioning this week was the unexpected success of sophomore, Anthony Swain. Swain came off the bench after the neck injury to Cassanova Mcinzy in the first half, and ended up leading the team with eight tackles.
Secondary - B-
Since the Rebels found next to no success with their run game, Hugh Freeze took it to the air, as junior quarterback, Bo Wallace, threw the ball 50 times on Saturday. Whenever you throw the ball that much, it'll take a serious toll on the opponent's secondary, and it did just that on Saturday, as Bo Wallace and his receiving corps gained 340 yards through the air. In all honesty, it could have ended up much worse. Just take a look at the two best receivers for Ole Miss, Laquon Treadwell and Donte Moncrief. Both are premier receivers in the SEC, and it's a true wonder each didn't receive for over 200 yards on the day with that number of passing attempts.
Special Teams - A-
Coming into this game, my biggest fear was...Rodney Scott. Flashes in my head before the game consisted of punt return galore from the back, but Steven Clark did a mighty fine job in containing the speedy and shifty Scott, as only one return was allowed for a minuscule five yards. Cody Parkey was one for two on his field goal attempts with his miss coming from a 54 yard attempt in the second half.