Tennessee stuns No. 21 Auburn

Vols snap 11-game losing streak vs. SEC teams

By JEFFERY WINBORNE, Eagle Sports Correspondent
Posted 10/15/18

AUBURN — “Disappointed.”

That’s the word Gus Malzahn used repeatedly following Auburn’s 30-24 loss to Tennessee Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium. The embattled head coach is now facing further criticism as his offense continues to struggle.

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Don't have an ID?


Print subscribers

If you're a print subscriber, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one.

Non-subscribers

Click here to see your options for becoming a subscriber.

Tennessee stuns No. 21 Auburn

Vols snap 11-game losing streak vs. SEC teams

Posted

AUBURN — “Disappointed.”

That’s the word Gus Malzahn used repeatedly following Auburn’s 30-24 loss to Tennessee Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium. The embattled head coach is now facing further criticism as his offense continues to struggle.

Auburn outgained the Volunteers 448 yards to 328, but three turnovers kept the Tigers off the scoreboard. Jarrett Stidham, although he completed 61 percent of his career-high 45 pass attempts for 322 yards, threw two interceptions, both of which resulted in points for the Vols. A third-quarter fumble by Stidham led to a scoop-and-score by Alontae Taylor gave Tennessee a 10-point lead which proved to be the back breaker for the Tigers.

“Give Tennessee credit, we congratulate them,” Malzahn said. “They had a good plan and their kids fought hard and they found a way to win. Like I said, they protected the football and we didn’t. At the end of the day that was really the determining factor of why we have a loss.”

Stidham’s three turnovers on Saturday is the most since Auburn’s loss to UCF in last year’s Peach Bowl. The redshirt junior has underperformed this season after foregoing an opportunity to go to the NFL.

“Continue to work, that’s what it’s all about,” a visibly emotional Stidham said after the game. “Every week, every day, I’m going to go to work, get better, and I’m going to keep fighting for those guys in that locker room. That’s what it’s completely about for me. I don’t care about the future. I don’t care about the past. I don’t care how great or bad I did last year. I don’t care how great or bad I have done up to this point. I’m going to continue to fight for my teammates.”

Tennessee quarterback Jarrett Guarantano had a career day picking on Auburn’s secondary. The Tigers entered Saturday giving up only 188 per game. Guarantano threw for 328 yards and two touchdowns, including a 42-yard strike to a wide open Ty Chandler who ran in to tie the game, 10-10, early in the second quarter.

“It looked to me like the quarterback put a lot balls short and on the outside, only where his guy could catch it,” Malzahn said. “I know there were 4 or 5 that were like that. They made some plays, some third down and long plays. We had trouble getting off the field which is really uncharacteristic.”

After three consecutive weeks of Auburn failing to gain 100 yards rushing, the Tigers ended that streak with 126 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Anthony Schwartz led Auburn in rushing yards with three carries for 44 yards. JaTarvious Whitlow, who left the game with an injury after attempting to recover Stidham’s fumble, finished with 42 yards.

Trailing 30-17 with 2:33 left in the game, Auburn’s offense managed to string together a 13-play, 88-yard drive. Stidham completed nine passes to get into the redzone. He threw into the back corner of the endzone where Seth Williams jumped and caught the ball over Bryce Thompson in coverage to make it 30-24.

The Tigers lined up for an onside kick, but Jauan Jennings fell on it for the Volunteers.

Saturday’s win is Tennessee’s first SEC victory since November 2016 when the Vols beat Missouri in Knoxville. It was the first time Tennessee beat Auburn since 1999.

“We’ll watch the film and we’ll have a plan moving forward, whatever that is,” Malzahn said when asked if any personnel changes were coming. “The bottom line is we have to get better and we have to get better as a team. I’m very disappointed in our performance. Like I said I thought we would play better. We had a very solid week of practice. I’m disappointed for our players. I’m not happy.”

The loss essentially takes Auburn (4-3. 1-3) out of the hunt to repeat as SEC-West Champions, with games against Texas A&M, Georgia and Alabama looming later in the season.

Auburn travels to Oxford, Miss., next Saturday to take on Ole Miss before getting a much needed bye week.