College Game of the Week: Tigers @ Bulldogs
For our latest installment of #PFFGoesToCollege, we venture back to the SEC where the Auburn Tigers visited the Mississippi State Bulldogs in a battle of two of the nation’s best teams.
Mississippi State kept their dream season alive as they jumped out to a 21-0 lead and never looked back. They took advantage of some early Auburn turnovers and managed to survive turning it over on four straight possessions of their own thanks to a stout defensive effort in their own territory. It’s a huge win for Mississippi State, but the SEC West will challenge their national championship hopes on a weekly basis.
Here’s a look at the key performances in the game.
Auburn Tigers – Performances of Note
Nick Marshall, QB: +4.7
Breakdown: It wasn’t always pretty for Marshall who looked erratic at times with his accuracy, but he showed off his arm with a few pinpoint downfield throws, even if they didn’t always show up on the stat sheet. He threw a well-placed deep ball to Sammie Coates that got negated by a questionable offensive pass interference penalty early in the third quarter and later hit Coates in the hands in the end zone before cornerback Will Redmond knocked it away at the 8:30 mark of the fourth quarter. The ball location was impressive on both passes, despite his lack of credit in the box score. Though Auburn’s comeback effort ended with a Marshall interception, he had his arm hit on the throw, so there was little he could so about that. Throw in Marshall’s usual fine work as a runner (+2.1) and it was an impressive overall effort.
Signature Stats: Marshall ran for 93 yards on 12 carries on designed quarterback runs.
Jonathan Jones, CB: +4.5
Breakdown: Jones was in tight coverage for most of the day. He was in good position to intercept QB Dak Prescott’s back shoulder attempt early in the second quarter and did a nice job undercutting a corner route in the end zone for his second interception of the day.
Signature Stats: Jones was targeted six times, allowing two catches for 12 yards to go with the two interceptions and one pass defensed. His worst play was a pass interference penalty in the end zone.
Reese Dismukes, C: +4.8
Breakdown: The Auburn offensive line is often difficult to evaluate in the running game as they create so much backfield deception, it makes life extremely difficult on the defense that they’re often easily blocked while trying to find the ball. Regardless, it was a strong effort by Dismukes who opened holes in the running game throughout the afternoon to the tune of a +4.1 run blocking grade.
Signature Stats: Dismukes surrendered just one hurry on 39 attempts in pass protection.
Mississippi State Bulldogs – Performances of Note
Dak Prescott, QB: +0.9
Breakdown: Prescott is going to get all of the hype, and deservedly so given his dominance on the ground, but it’s hard to ignore some of the questionable passes he threw throughout the game. The back shoulder interception was a poor throw as it was thrown right to Jones who had good position on the receiver and Prescott’s end zone interception was even worse as it was thrown late and right to Jones again. There were some impressive throws sprinkled in, but his -1.9 day as a passer will be marred by his poor decision making. As a runner, he was outstanding, grading at +2.6. He showed speed, agility and power on his way to 123 yards on 23 carries.
Signature Stats: Prescott picked up 98 yards on 17 carries on designed quarterback runs.
Preston Smith, DE: +1.8
Breakdown: Smith has had an impressive start to the season as a pass rusher and he’s certainly on the NFL’s radar. He was relatively quiet for much of the afternoon, in part due to Mississippi State’s use of first and second-string defenses, but he showed up at the end and helped shut down Auburn’s offense down the stretch. He beat LT Shon Coleman for the sack with 4:02 to go in the game and later got inside of him at the 3:17 mark to get the hit on Marshall to force the throwaway.
Signature Stats: Smith led the defensive line playing 55 of 83 snaps and finished with a sack, hit, and hurry on 29 rushes.
Josh Robinson, HB: +2.6
Breakdown: Pairing Robinson with Prescott makes for a difficult backfield to stop and Robinson’s hard-running style was very effective Saturday afternoon. He graded at +1.3 as a runner and added a +0.6 mark in the passing game and a +0.9 grade in pass protection. At the 14:27 mark of the fourth quarter, Robinson got to the edge and made a nifty move once he got to the secondary on his way to a 37-yard gain, his longest of the day.
Signature Stat: Robinson picked up 50 of his 99 yards after contact.
PFF Game Ball
Despite the loss, Nick Marshall was extremely accurate throwing the ball down the field and he was a handful in the running game. It’s enough for the PFF Game Ball, despite the loss.
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Mississippi State Offense
Mississippi State Defense