AUBURN, Ala. — For a while, Auburn freshman quarterback Jonathan Wallace looked poised and confident.
The Central-Phenix City product, starting his first SEC game for the Tigers, completed his first five passes for 59 yards. But that was about where the positives in Saturday night’s 38-0 loss to No. 8 Georgia at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Wallace finished 15-for-22 for 181 yards, throwing a pick and absorbing three sacks. His rushing totals were 11 carries (including the sacks) for 9 net yards, with a long gain of 10 yards.
“Jonathan did some things tonight that were good, and I think Jonathan had some opportunities that were missed,” Auburn copach Gene Chizik said. “He had some pressure on him that we should have been able to pick up when they were blitzing.
“A couple of times, he extended plays and made some plays. Some times there were open receivers and he didn’t necessarily get the ball on target. So it was a mixture of that. It’s tough on the true freshman to come in against a defense like Georgia’s who’s very effective.”
A week after winning his debut 42-7 over New Mexico State, he ultimately could not save the program from its first shutout in four years, its first home shutout since 2003, and its worst shutout since a 42-0 defeat to Tennessee in 1980.
On Auburn’s second drive, trailing by a touchdown, Wallace moved the chains on 3rd-and-7 by hitting Emory Blake for 17 yards. He completed a couple more long gains to Blake and Onterio McCalebb, advancing the Tigers to Georgia’s 30-yard-line.
But the next play called for a wide receiver option, handing the ball off to sophomore Quan Bray and looking for a deep pass. But the Troup County product was smothered up for a 10-yard loss, stunting the drive and forcing a Steven Clark punt.
Wallace and the coaching staff maintained success in the running game was necessary to help the passing lanes open up against an aggressive Georgia defense.
The Tigers went nowhere, running 27 times for 57 yards.
If Wallace earns a third start, it will be this Saturday at 2 p.m. on Auburn’s Senior Day against Alabama A&M, a Division I-AA team with a 7-3 record.
“It was all in the game plan. We needed to get different types of play-action passes. We were able to get into different sets. We moved the ball. We just have to get into the end zone,” Wallace said.
“Georgia does a lot of things. It’s just a matter of getting in the right plays. Just continue to fight, nobody whether we’re up or down. We’re not giving up. We’ll continue to work this week and get ready for Alabama A&M.”