The clock was not the only thing that didn’t show up ready to go on Saturday night at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
A slow start against Oregon is not ideal, but not that surprising given the Ducks’ national stature and offensively firepower, but struggling against Tulane represents a more disturbing potential trend.
Bo Nix and the Auburn offense got the ball first on Saturday and after a seven-yard pass to Eli Stone started the drive, it quickly fizzled as the offense was forced into a three-and-out.
The defense didn’t look much sharper. A swing pass and a blown assignment in the Tiger defensive backfield jump-started the drive and the Green Wave found success in the run game as well. The drive ended with a 44-yard field goal.
A great adjustment by Will Hastings made up for an inaccurate Nix pass, and gave the Tigers their only first down of the quarter. Tulane forced a fourth-and-one and Boobee Whitlow fumbled the ball over to the Green Wave.
The Auburn defense settled down from there, but the offensive struggles continued and Nix’s personal struggles headlined the opening 15 minutes.
Two more Auburn three-and-outs concluded the opening period with the Tigers’ true freshman missing several open targets including Anthony Swartz on what would have be a long touchdown pass, but forced the receiver with a club on one hand to dive for a ball tailing off to the left.
As the clock flipped into the second quarter – while not the actual clock of course, it was still unresponsive – the offense finally found a spark with a 25-yard screen pass to Whitlow followed by a 31-yard touchdown connection to Hastings.
With 10:37 left in the second half, the officials announced that the game clock was wound and ready to commence operation and Nix responded by winding up to find Seth Williams for a 40-yard game, which stood up after a considerable delay for injury and official review.
Two plays later, Eli Stove found the end zone on a four-yard run.
Nix finished the first half with 174 yards passing, despite missing on several big chances. The shocking number for the Tiger offense was 13 rushing attempts for grand total of 20 yards. An SEC offensive line and an SEC stable of running backs has got to be better against a team like Tulane.
In the second half, they were better, but the question is: What took so long?
Auburn fans will remember these first two weeks for a legendary throw to cap a comeback and, well honestly, not much from the Tulane game is likely to be remembered too terribly long. However, if the Tigers don’t learn from these first two games, they will dig themselves a hole that they can’t climb out of at some point.
Going into next week’s Homecoming showdown with a Kent State team who probably should have lost to Kenneshaw State on Saturday, the Tigers need to show that they are ready to play from the opening whistle.