Auburn-Alabama grades: RBs pave the way in Tide win

The top-graded players and biggest takeaways from Alabama’s win over Auburn in the Iron Bowl.

| 2 weeks ago
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Auburn-Alabama grades: RBs pave the way in Tide win


Alabama 30, Auburn 12

Here are the top-graded players and biggest takeaways from Alabama’s 30-12 win over Auburn.

Alabama Crimson Tide

Quarterback grade: Jalen Hurts, 68.5

Mistakes don’t come back to haunt Hurts

It’s easy to look at the final score and gloss over some of the deficiencies Bama had in this one, but Hurts’ reckless play could easily have had much larger consequences against a better team. He had the two interceptions that while both a tad unlucky, were still bad decisions. He also had an overthrow on an out route that went off Tray Matthews hands in the middle of the second quarter and a fumble that was fallen on by Jonah Williams. As good as Bama’s defense is, they can still ill-afford those type of mistakes in the playoff.

Top offensive grades:

TE O.J. Howard, 76.7
LT Cam Robinson, 74.1
RB Bo Scarbrough, 72.5
LG Ross Pierschbacher, 71.3
RB Joshua Jacobs, 70.2

Running backs pave their own way

The Alabama offensive line was losing the line of scrimmage battle for much of the day, but their running backs overcame it when it mattered most. Bo Scarbrough, Damien Harris, and Joshua Jacobs combined for eight broken tackles on 31 carries including the crucial one from Scarbrough to convert an early third-and-nine on their game icing drive in the fourth quarter. 128 of their 167 combined rushing yards came after contact.

Top defensive grades:

LB Reuben Foster, 84.6
CB Minkah Fitzpatrick, 82.1
DT Jonathan Allen, 79.4
DT Dalvin Tomlinson, 78.7
S Hootie Jones, 78.4

Nowhere to run

One of the most notable and striking differences between the college and pro games is the gap discipline by defenders. Offensive lines aren’t necessarily more dominant in college for them to have much higher rushing yardage totals, rather the defensive lines and linebackers are far more likely to get caught out of position or leave their gap extra wide. Watching Alabama is different though, and that’s why many compare them to NFL teams. Every player up front is staying disciplined as can be and the result is complete domination. Auburn had 17 carries for 31 yards between the tackles

Auburn Tigers

Quarterback grade: Jeremy Johnson, 64.2 ; John Franklin III, 62.2

Inaccuracies plague position

Whether it was Johnson or Franklin, it really didn’t matter. Neither quarterback could consistently put the ball on target enough to move the Tigers offense. There were big plays to be had against the Alabama defense as there were multiple missed receivers running in space down the field. They combined for an abysmal adjusted completion percentage of 46.1. That type of futility leaves you no chance against Alabama’s defense.

Top offensive grades:

RT Robert Leff, 73.3
WR Eli Stove, 72.9
C Austin Golson, 69.6
TE Jalen Harris, 66.7
RB Kerryon Johnson 66.1

Big plays hard to come by

Earlier this week I wrote about how Auburn’s best bet to take down Alabama was via the big play, and Gus Malzahn seemed to agree. Most of their true dropback passing plays were max protected with fewer receivers all running deeper patterns. They were trying to create windows down the field, but they rarely took advantage of them. The three catches of 20 yards or more – two from Eli Stove and one from Will Hastings – set them up nicely, but they needed far more than that with how consistently ineffective the running game was.

Top defensive grades:

DT Montravius Adams, 89.5
CB Javaris Davis, 85.1
LB T.J. Neal, 80.3
S Tray Matthews, 80.1
LB Deshaun Davis, 77.7

Adams outplays Allen

In a game featuring multiple future first-round picks along the defensive line, Montravius Adams shined above the rest. He consistently controlled the Alabama interior linemen en route to four stops and three hurries on the day. For Adams this is definitely a case of peaking at the right time. Saturday was the second-highest-graded game of the defensive tackle’s career and his last four weeks has been far and away the best stretch of football we’ve seen from him in three years of grading.

| Senior Analyst

Mike is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has also been featured on The Washington Post, ESPN Insider, and 120 Sports.