AUBURN — The eagle soared, the stadium was filled, the marching band played, and Auburn football cruised to a 60-10 season-opening victory against Akron on Saturday night.
Here are five takeaways from the resounding win that ushered in the Bryan Harsin era.
The perfect game has been ruled out.
The Auburn student section turned up the noise, particularly against Akron. A perfect ten out of ten. Auburn’s quarterback went above and above, achieving Spinal Tap levels of achievement: “It goes to eleven.”
Bo Nix completed his first 11 passes and remained flawless until the second half. He had 190 yards and three touchdowns by the time a throw eventually dropped to the ground. He went 20-for-22 for 275 yards and a 240.9 passer rating, barely missing out on tying his career best (241.6 against Mississippi State in 2019).
“I was eager to go out there and be consistent,” Nix said. “I was happy to be in charge of the game and know where to go with the ball.” “Knowing where to go with the ball is the most important thing you have to worry about when you’re a quarterback.” The remainder, in most cases, will take care of itself. Our crew did a fantastic job getting the doors open today. Our coaches placed us in an excellent position to succeed. For what they were doing on defense, our game plan worked well. I felt like the whole offensive contributed to it, and it wasn’t just me. “
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It’s natural to overreact when facing an opponent as terrible as Akron, but Nix was razor-sharp and precise. He seemed to be pushing himself to remain in the pocket, and he stepped into his delivery after successfully finding his wide-open receivers. The next issue is whether the junior can maintain this level of efficiency against a high-pressure defense. But, whether it was for Akron or not, it’s obvious that Harsin’s collaboration with Nix had an effect, at least mechanically. This was the best the third-year starter has looked in his career.
Increasing the number of receptions
Nix’s first 11 throws were perfect, revealing a lot about his progress and Auburn’s new system. Most significantly, during that period, he passed to seven different receivers. With last year’s three best receivers gone, one of the greatest concerns heading into this season was who would step up as Auburn’s top target. Harsin’s system used tight ends and running backs in the passing game, as anticipated.
Shedrick Jackson, on the other hand, stood out as a popular option. The senior, who was a surprise pick at the top of the depth chart, caught Nix’s first two passes. Jackson also went loose behind Akron’s defense for a 42-yard pass, the longest of the game, when Auburn was backed up inside its own 10. Ja’Varrius Johnson’s three receptions for 51 yards and his five catches for 79 yards led the way. Demetris Robertson, a Georgia transfer, wasn’t bad either, although his 28 yards on three catches were a little underwhelming.
Mania at the tight end
Yes, John Samuel Shenker caught five passes for 38 yards on five targets, but that’s not the point. Shenker and Luke Deal promised multi-tight end sets during preseason workouts. Auburn exceeded all expectations. The Tigers lined up three at one point in the first half, but it seemed to be a mistake at the moment; Harsin called a timeout as though the offense was scrambling.
When Auburn needed a yard to add another score later in the half, it lined up four tight ends in a goal-line set. There are four tight ends. Four. With Shenker at fullback, Tank Bigsby pushed in for the score. The new attack doesn’t lack inventiveness.
T.D. Moultry made an appearance.
The new edge position for Auburn has been a source of intrigue in the preseason, particularly with veteran T.D. Moultry designated as a starter. After arriving at Auburn as a top-100 recruit, his career has been rather disappointing. However, against Akron, the senior was one of the defense’s best performers. He led the team with three tackles for loss, including one sack, and had a total of seven tackles.
“I’m very pleased for him just to see him succeed,” fellow starting edge rusher Derick Hall said. “He’s a terrific player and a wonderful person.” He’s certainly taken the next step in assisting us in moving forward as a defense. I’m ecstatic for him and very proud of him. “
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The defensive line performed well, with Hall contributing a sack of his own. Interestingly, Hall began the game standing up, while Moultry lined up like a typical defensive lineman with his hand on the ground. Colby Wooden and Marcus Harris, who began on the inside, each had one sack apiece. But it was Moultry who caused the greatest havoc in the backfield.
Two weeks before the season, senior cornerback Roger McCreary stated, “T.D. understands he needs to step up.” In his debut game in the new capacity, Moultry listened and delivered.
Battles for offensive line positions
Auburn’s veteran offensive line was frequently replaced, as was anticipated. The starters, from left to right, were Austin Troxell, Brandon Council, Nick Brahms, Keiondre Jones, and Brodarious Hamm, following a depth chart that was heavy on the “OR” cop-out. Troxell and Council were selected ahead of Alec Jackson for starting positions on the left side.
Troxell, who has had an injury-plagued career, said, “I’ve been working for this for a long time.” “At long last… my moment has come.”Being out there with my teammates and brothers is really a gift. You really can’t top that sensation, and it was a great night. “
Jones, a sophomore, was the lone non-senior starter. At right guard, he took over for Tashawn Manning.
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Bo Nix not flawless but shines as Auburn football opens Bryan Harsin era by beating Akron 60-10