Auburn-Ole Miss grades: Dominant run game sparks Tigers win
Auburn Tigers 40, Mississippi Rebels 29
Here are the biggest takeaways and highest-graded players from Auburn’s win over Ole Miss.
Quarterback grade: Sean White, 77.7
White has been playing well during Auburn’s resurgence in the second half of the season, and that continued with an impressive performance in this game. He completed seven of the 10 passes he attempted travelling 10 yards or further downfield, and went two-for-five on throws beyond 20 yards. Ole Miss got pressure on him on just seven of his 26 drop-backs, but he handled pressure well, completing 75.0 percent of his throws under pressure.
Top offensive grades
G Braden Smith, 84.0
FB Chandler Cox, 83.9
T Robert Leff, 80.2
G Alex Kozan, 78.3
TE Jalen Harris, 76.5
Dominant run game sparks win
Given that the Tigers rushed for 307 yards, it’s no surprise that their top five graded players on offense all earned their grade primarily due to their work in the ground game. Running back Kamryn Pettway rushed for 236 yards, with 154 of those yards coming after contact, but he was also helped by the offensive line paving the way for him as well as they did. Pettway averaged 2.7 yards per carry before contact, and an additional 5.2 yards per carry after contact, and when the offensive line can give a player as physical as Pettway is that much room to work with, he becomes tough to bring down for opposing linebackers and defensive backs once he gets going. Auburn’s running game has been huge as they have dragged themselves back into the picture in the SEC this year, and it will keep them in the hunt right until the end of the season. Is it too early to start getting excited about Auburn’s run game against the Alabama defense in the Iron Bowl?
Top defensive grades
CB Joshua Holsey, 93.9
ED Carl Lawson, 79.0
LB Tre’ Williams, 78.0
DI Dontavious RUssell, 76.3
S Nick Ruffin, 73.3
Holsey makes Kelly pay
Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly decided he wanted to go after cornerback Joshua Holsey in coverage often in this game, but he certainly didn’t find the success he was looking for. Of the 10 passes thrown into his coverage, Holsey allowed just two receptions for 34 yards. Even more impressive though, was the fact that he broke up four passes, and had the game defining interception that set up the touchdown that put the Tigers out of reach. Holsey has flashed big time potential this season, and this game only highlighted that further.
Quarterback grade: Chad Kelly, 75.2
Kelly broke the single game record for most passing yards at the school, but it was his lack of success downfield which cost Ole Miss on Saturday night. On throws travelling 20 yards or further downfield, Kelly completed just one of the seven passes he attempted. He was much more successful between 10 and 19 yards, going 13-for-19 for 237 yards and, while it certainly wasn’t Kelly’s play that cost them this game in the grand scheme of things, it was his late interception that allowed Auburn to stretch their lead in the fourth quarter.
Top offensive grades
TE Evan Engram, 80.7
G Javon Patterson, 78.0
WR Quincy Adeboyejo, 76.7
HB Eugene Brazley, 73.5
WR Van Jefferson, 71.0
Engram targeted early and often
When Ole Miss lost to LSU a week ago, they were able to scheme tight end Evan Engram out of the game, limiting the Rebels’ passing attack. Kelly looked to find Engram often in this one, and the tight end had nine receptions from the 14 passes thrown to him, racking up 95 yards and a touchdown. Engram came into the game leading all tight ends with an average of 2.76 yards per route run. He was below that, coming in at 1.83 in this game, dropping him to 2.58 on the season, but it could have been different had he and Kelly been able to connect on a would-be touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Top defensive grades
CB Derrick Jones, 76.5
S Deontay Anderson, 75.4
ED Marquis Haynes, 74.4
ED Fadol Brown, 74.2
DI Issac Gross, 73.1
Linebackers struggle as Pettway runs wild
The Auburn offensive line blocked well in the running game, but it also didn’t help that their linebackers struggled as much as they did. From struggling to bring Pettway down, to getting caught out of position, both Taylor Polk and Willie Hibbler had poor games. From 13 snaps against the run Hibbler didn’t make any tackles resulting in a defensive stop and, while Polk fared better and made a tackle resulting in a defensive stop on 12.0 percent of his run defense snaps, he also missed a tackle and was often handled too easily by blockers at the second level.