It is safe to say that the performance of the Auburn Tigers on Saturday afternoon against the New Mexico State Aggies is one that they would like to immediately forget.
The Aggies controlled the entire game and left town with a 31-10 win over the home-standing Tigers. Head coach Hugh Freeze told the media after the game that he could not find a single positive in Saturday’s performance.
“You’re not going to execute if you don’t give great effort. That goes hand-in-hand. I thought our receivers ran routes in slow-motion tonight… We didn’t protect well. There’s nothing positive I can say about tonight.”
Despite the loss, there were few positives and even more negatives to talk about. Here’s a look at the best and worst of Auburn’s loss to New Mexico State on Saturday.
Winner: Payton Thorne
Payton Thorne did not lead his team to win, but he did manage to have his most efficient day throwing the football. He completed 79% of his passes (15-of-19) for 148 yards to seven different receivers. He also connected with Rivaldo Fairweather for his 14th passing touchdown of the season and did not throw an interception.
Loser: The run game
Like in many aspects, Auburn could not get the running game going on Saturday. There were only three players who registered a carry against New Mexico State: Payton Thorne, Jarquez Hunter, and Damari Alston. Those three combined to rush for 65 yards on 26 carries in the loss.
Winner: Elijah McAllister
When New Mexico State holds the ball for longer than half of the game, it is hard to find a positive on defense. However, we found one.
Auburn managed to record four tackles for loss, with EDGE Elijah McAllister recording the team’s only sack.
Loser: The Auburn defense
Although it is now Alabama week, and it would not be wise to take a day off… the defense needs one. New Mexico State held on to the football for 38:50 and made the most of their time by gaining 414 total yards. The defense is exhausted and will need to find a way to recover fast in order to have a chance to beat Alabama next Saturday.
Winner: New Mexico State
As everyone knows, small schools such as New Mexico State receive a hefty payday to come play at Power Five programs such as Auburn every season. This season’s total was $1.8 million. Talk about a fun Saturday for the program and the university.
— Jacob Hester (@JacobHester18) November 18, 2023
Loser: Auburn's offensive line
When looking back how just how much New Mexico State was able to penetrate Auburn’s offensive line, it makes you appreciate Payton Thorne’s performance a little more.
The Aggies were able to record four sacks and six tackles for loss to a total of -39 yards. Thorne was also pressured four additional times. Just another aspect that Auburn must improve on ahead of next week’s Iron Bowl.