Auburn Football LSU Week Recap and Preview

Let's look back at one of the most hectic weeks Auburn football has had in recent years

Ever since TJ Finley led that incredible comeback against Georgia State, Auburn football has been a whirlwind. A potential Quarterback controversy and a coaching fire headline the news. Auburn also has to play LSU on Saturday. So let’s look at every thing that happened this week and try to make sense of it all.

Georgia State Game

I want to start with the Georgia State game. As we know, Auburn had to come back down 24-12 at halftime, to win 34-24. Auburn looked uninspired on offense for the first half. Bo Nix played one of the worst games of his Auburn career in that first half, which is concerning because I thought he played one of his best a week prior at Penn State. Defensively, Auburn was without Owen Pappoe and Zacoby McClain. Pappoe missed the entire game with injury, and McClain missed the first half after being ejected for targeting in the second half against Penn State. Filling in for them were Chandler Wooten and Wesley Steiner. Wooten had a fine game, finishing with 12 tackles. Steiner, on the other hand, looked lost for most of the time he was on the field. Auburn showed a clear lack of quality depth at middle linebacker, and it allowed Georgia State to run for 267 yards. McClain returned in the second half, and led the Auburn defense to a shut out in the half. It certainly looks like Auburn will be in a lot of trouble in the future without Pappoe and McClain. I do have to give some credit to Georgia State and their coaching staff. They had a really good game plan on both sides of the ball and really put themselves in position to pull off the upset. They are an experienced team that has played and won against several Power Five teams in recent years. A big credit goes to Bryan Harsin for having the guts to make the change at QB. TJ Finley did a tremendous job coming off the bench and making plays to win Auburn the game. On the touchdown that put Auburn ahead, Shedrick Jackson was running a fade route, and he was Finely’s first target. I’m afraid we are seeing a theme that I hope will not continue the whole season. With two great running backs, Mike Bobo should not keep calling fade routes in the red zone. Auburn does not have the QBs or wide receivers to make that play consistently. The play is really only made 50% of the time anyway. Keep the ball on the ground, Auburn.

WR Coach Cornelius Williams Fired, Replaced by Eric Kiesau

On Sunday afternoon, Bryan Harsin fired WR coach Cornelius Williams and replaced him with offensive analyst Eric Kiesau. Harsin would not give much reasoning as to why Williams was fired after 4 games. Harsin continually cited that he was not happy with how the wide receivers were developing. I understand and agree with him, but that fact is that receivers Auburn has are young and inexperienced, outside of Shedrick Jackson. On top of that, they are not polished receivers who were ready to play Power Five football every week coming out of high school like a Justyn Ross. I think there is more to this story, but Harsin will not reveal any extra information on it. Eric Kiesau came to Auburn after serving as Bryan Harsin’s offensive coordinator at Boise State since 2017. He has coached receivers for most of his career. I don’t think Williams would have been fired if Kiesau was not already at Auburn and had previously been working with the receivers. I also don’t think if another one of Harsin’s “boys” was coaching receivers, they would have been fired. For example, if Brad Bedell was coaching receivers, I think it is highly unlikely he would have been fired 4 games into the season. I hope Kiesau can make an impact with the receivers he has now, but Auburn really needs to recruit some good receivers and get them in quickly. The good news for Auburn is Darius Clemons, who many believe to be their number one receiver target, is still on track to come to Auburn next season. He was previously being recruited by Harsin and Kiesau to Boise State.

Is There a QB Battle Brewing on the Plains?

Bryan Harsin gave zero indication that a change at QB would be made this week during any of his media availability. He even called depth charts “old-school”, and that he does not really believe in them. With that being said, Bo Nix was QB1 and TJ Finley was QB2 when Auburn put out a depth chart on Tuesday. All Harsin would say about this potential “battle” was that both QBs would prepare as if they were going to start like they have been since spring practice. I had several people who were at the game on Saturday describe to me the team’s reaction when TJ was put in the game and Bo’s reaction to learning he was coming out. The team was very excited to learn TJ was coming in. Bo did not take the news well, but he is a competitor, so that was not a big surprise. Both Finley and Harsin after the game and during this week have said that Bo was a great leader and was talking with TJ on the sidelines. I have been told that did not happen. Bo kept to himself on the sideline for most of the second half. This does not sound like something a leader does. I do not think this is that big of a deal, however. Bo should be upset that he was benched. That should fuel him to get better so he will keep his starting job. I do expect Bo to start against LSU. I also fully expect that should he struggle, Bo will find himself on the bench again and TJ Finley will replace him. It is refreshing as an Auburn fan to see a true backup QB that can come in and spell the starter when needed. I am a huge Bo Nix fan, and I think he gives Auburn the best chance to win when he’s at his best.

LSU Preview: What Does Auburn Have to do to Finally Win Again in Baton Rouge?

Auburn is sitting as a 3.5 point underdog as I’m writing this Thursday afternoon. Vegas usually gives 3 points for home field advantage, so this is essentially a toss up. Auburn is going to have to do what they do best: run the football. With Shaun Shivers healthy, Auburn has three really, really good options with Tank Bigsby and Jarquez Hunter as well. LSU’s defense has left plenty to be desired early on in the season. QB Max Johnson is one of the best in the SEC, so Auburn’s secondary has to bring their best. They cannot continue to let receivers run wide open like they did against Penn State. Auburn’s front 7 is going to have to get pressure on Johnson. Stopping the run will help, but if the secondary can’t cover anyone, it will be a long night for Derek Mason’s unit. This feels like the right time for Auburn to finally win in Baton Rouge, though. It will be close, but I really like Auburn’s chances. If you know this rivalry, you know there will be a crazy or controversial ending. That’s the only guarantee I can make.