Why isn't Auburn football's Bryan Harsin using Tank Bigsby more?
AUBURN — Bryan Harsin says Tank Bigsby's touches were so few against Penn State because Auburn football was playing from behind and needed to pass more. But that doesn't add up.
In fact, it's pure codswallop.
Bigsby had 11 total touches in the Tigers' 41-12 homefield embarrassment against No. 23 Penn State (3-0) on Saturday. The junior running back had nine carries for 39 yards, plus two receptions for 38 more.
The Tigers (2-1) threw the ball 38 times without knowing who their future quarterback is. They ran the ball 36 times. Only 25% of those rushes were by Bigsby, who is widely considered to be the SEC's most dynamic running back. Both quarterbacks had as many or more carries.
Adding insult to injury, Penn State freshman Nick Singleton ran for 124 yards.
Why only 11 touches for the player literally named Tank?
"I think the obvious (answer) is that we got behind and we had to throw the football," Harsin said. "I mean, that's really what it came down to."
OK. What about the second quarter? Auburn only trailed by one score for the entire quarter, and it was early enough in the game for run/pass clock management not to matter. Auburn had 18 offensive snaps. None were handoffs to Bigsby.
Harsin talked over that attempted follow-up question.
"I don't know all the reasons," he said. "But yeah, we want to get Tank the ball. We want to get Jarquez (Hunter) the ball. We want to run the football. And I think the big thing was the score and trying to do some things to get (Bigsby) the ball. And the pass game is included in that too, so there were opportunities for him there as well. So it's not all just the touches in the run game. It's the touches in the pass game."
Actually, the 11 touches referenced in the initial question did include his touches in the pass game. But anyway.
"Sometimes the game changes," Harsin continued. "Sometimes the plan of the team you're playing: They know that, too. And what they're trying to take away. So you've got to make some adjustments in the game as well."
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One week earlier, Harsin was asked about his most effective halftime adjustments that allowed Auburn to turn a 10-7 deficit into a 24-16 win against San Jose State. Immediately, he said he wanted to get Bigsby the ball more. And that he should have used Bigsby more from the beginning.
Playing from behind in the second half didn't matter in that case, but it does matter when you're playing from behind in the first half against Penn State?
It's no secret that Harsin is on the hot seat. He was asked to address his job security for the first time this season after the Penn State game. From now on, he is a second-year coach fighting for his job with every in-game decision.
Wouldn't you rather win or lose with your best player? Right now, Harsin is losing with his best player on the sideline half of the time.