Five takeaways from Auburn's final game of the season against Alabama




 

The Tigers will go no further after a 49-27 loss to their greatest rival.

Auburn dropped the Iron Bowl to the Alabama Crimson Tide for the third year in a row. The Tigers end the year at 5-7, meaning that they will not be bowl eligible and won't be participating in postseason play like other teams who finished with six wins or greater. The game caps off an inspiring 2-2 run from interim coach Cadillac Williams, whose tenure is certain to be remembered by Auburn fans after the firing of coach Bryan Harsin.

Here are five takeaways from Auburn's performance in their rivalry matchup:

Coach Cadillac Williams deserves his roses

 

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Yes, coach Cadillac Williams lost on Saturday. But that shouldn't tarnish what has been a great run for the interim head coach.

Williams beat a team in Texas A&M that most didn't think Auburn would knock off this season and took care of business against a talented Western Kentucky team that the Tigers should have beaten. On top of that, Williams was very close to having a winning record as an interim coach after narrowly losing a game to the Mississippi State Bulldogs on the road.

It's uncertain what the future holds for the Auburn man, but whatever happens next, Williams deserves all praise for finishing with a 2-2 record and getting the most out of this Auburn unit.

 

 

Robby Ashford is not beyond saving

 

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Robby Ashford put on a bit of a show during the Iron Bowl on Saturday. That's not a sentence often read, but it's the truth.

Sure, passing was rough again on completion percentage, but an absolute dime to Ja'Varrius Johnson for a 20-yard touchdown proved that he can be a talented passer with further refinement. On top of that, Ashford ran in two touchdowns from ways out, proving he's still dangerous on the ground when he needs to be.

Will Auburn's new head coach retain his services for next year? Potentially not, but Ashford showed Saturday that he could potentially be the guy further down the line.

Auburn should continue to identify with the run game

 

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Sure, guys like Tank Bigsby will be gone, but that shouldn't spell the end for this thing the Tigers have going on here.

Auburn seems to really click under the run game, averaging 7.4 yards per carry. There will still be some players on the roster from Harsin's failed regime come next year, and it might be a good time to stick with what works in the transition period while the new head coach gets settled in. Putting up two touchdowns on the ground against a talented Alabama team is nothing to sneeze at, so perhaps the Tigers should think about committing to that style of play for 2023.

It was a day to forget for the defense

 

Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

Alabama scored far more points than anyone may have expected on Saturday, and that comes down to the defense.

Poor coverages and lack of tenacity did the Tigers in on Saturday, and it's the type of play the team will readily look forward to leaving behind as it bows out before the beginning of bowl season. Everything Alabama did seemed to work, and aside from a nice Owen Pappoe interception, the Tide worked its will to ensure Auburn had no chance of coming back in this one.

Auburn's new coach has a lot of work to do

 

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Whoever the new head coach is - be it Hugh Freeze or someone else - has quite a job to do once they get to the Plains.

Recruiting needs to be sharpened and Auburn needs a reliable coach who can prepare aptly for opponents in the ways that Harsin could not. This might seem obvious, but the culture needed to set things right in Auburn has been showcased by Cadillac Williams the past few weeks - getting the talent right and the game planning to match will spell success for whoever takes the mantle next.

Story originally appeared on Auburn Wire

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