Offense in Chains
At the halfway point of the season, Auburn's offense is facing the longest average yards to-go on third down of any Power 5 team in college football.
(Todd Van Emst/Auburn Athletics)
Bryan Harsin was speaking for himself, but something that he said about Auburn’s offense after the 42-10 loss at Georgia on Saturday could have been echoed throughout the Tigers’ fan base.
“It's freaking frustrating,” Harsin said. “It is. It's frustrating as hell.”
At the halfway point of the season, frustration is the overwhelming feeling for many when it comes to the Auburn offense. The Tigers are averaging 20.3 points per game, which ranks 112th in FBS. (There are only 131 FBS teams.)
Against Power 5 opponents, the average drops to 14 points per game. Only Rutgers, Iowa and Iowa State are worse among Power 5 teams right now.
Auburn has turned the ball over 13 times this season, and only six FBS teams have given it away more often. The Tigers are averaging just 4.86 yards per play against Power 5 opponents, which is on pace to be their worst mark in that category since the 3-9 season in 2012.
Pretty much everywhere you look when it comes to Auburn’s offense, there’s some sort of frustrating stat.
But the area that made Harsin say those specific words Saturday evening might be the most frustrating part of it all — penalties and other self-inflicted wounds that are putting an inefficient Tigers’ offense into an even bigger hole.
“We've been saying it, too: first-and-10, second-and-5 is different than first-and-15 and second-and-15,” Harsin said. “So, against really good teams, you start getting behind the chains, and it's an advantage to the defense.”
It was a clear-cut advantage for a Georgia defense that didn’t really need any help Saturday. Auburn went 5-17 (29.41%) on third downs.
So far this season, the Tigers rank No. 113 in FBS in third-down conversion rate at 32.93%. Against FBS opponents, that drops to 31.08%. Against Power 5 opponents, that drops even further to 30.16%. All of those marks would be the worst for the program since, again, 2012.
According to friend of the newsletter and The Athletic national college football writer Max Olson, Auburn’s average yards to-go on third downs is 8.8 yards. That’s the third-highest mark in FBS, only behind UAB and Akron. The two Power 5 teams just ahead of Auburn? Iowa and Cal.