It's a lot of fun when Auburn does exactly what it's supposed to do, isn't it? Auburn came into this one and didn't show anything really different from the rest of the season. It didn't look like there were any wrinkles, and it really didn't look like there were a ton of different plays called.
Auburn lined up and ran the ball down the throat of a defense that's one of the worst rushing defenses in football (let's not forget that part as we revel in the fun) and then, when they wanted, were able to drop deep passes to wide open receivers for touchdowns.
The defense had a few breakdowns, but holding an opponent to just 7 points is always nice. This is the same ULM team that scored 21 on Oklahoma - even if all 21 of those points were in garbage time, too. Carl Lawson and Montravius Adams both had big games, and you have to love a walk-on defensive linemen getting a safety to end it, too.
This game was exactly what Auburn needed before heading out on their first road trip of the season. The Tigers didn't punt once. They did have a blocked field goal and a turnover on downs on the very last drive. A week after failing to score a touchdown, the Tigers couldn't stop scoring them.
1) Kerryon Johnson is something special. Johnson is high up in the national rankings for forcing missed tackles, and today was no exception. It was rare that the first person to touch him brought him down without help. He had close to 100 yards before the first quarter was over. With his physical play last week and then with today's results - his day was basically done at the end of the 1st half - I think it's safe to say he's answered questions about whether he could be a workhorse back.
2) Sean White continues to get better. He had one under-thrown deep ball (that resulted in a pass interference), but I thought overall he did well with those passes. His stats continue to get better with each game. He's reading the defenses, making good checks, not throwing into bad spots, and overall just continues to be a good manager of the game. Since finally getting the actual nod as the starter (every game since the Clemson game, essentially), he's completing 71% of his passes. That's pretty good. He still hasn't really played a full football season's worth of games as the starter, so it's good to see him improve with each game, and his numbers continue to look good outside of the Clemson game. However...
3) Ball control is an issue. I do worry about him holding onto the ball in the face of pressure. The fumble he had in this game was a bad one, and it came in a very bad part of the field. Thankfully, the defense got it right back.
4) John Franklin III is fast. The way he split the defense and left everyone in the dust was a thing of beauty. He showed just how dangerous he could be if he could put the rest of his game together enough for the coaches to give him the starting job. We also know saw him throw a great pass when he dropped a dime in to Nate Craig-Myers for the touchdown. But let's not get ahead of ourselves...
5) There's still no QB controversy. JFIII looked great, yes. It was still garbage time. That pass was beautiful and - again, along with the run - shows how dangerous he could be. However, with the hot seat talk around this staff, if you really think they're not putting the QB on the field who gives them the best overall chance to win, you're crazy. If he can nail the short routes and the other passes - like the bullet White roped to Tony Stevens between DBs in the 2nd quarter - then we could talk. We've only seen what he can do late. I do think, though, that...
6) JFIII needs more touches. Maybe he'll be part of the red zone plan in weeks to come. Maybe we'll see him worked in to games a little more. I'm not opposed to that. Working with 2 QBs can be effective and work. Maybe Rhett can do it. We'll see. I do think his speed is too big a weapon to keep off the field.
7) Rhett called a good game. We'll see what happens when the Tigers go on the road next week, but Auburn did exactly what they needed to do today, and they looked good doing it. There were few to no negative plays, and no offensive penalties. This game could have been so much worse than it was. After JF3's run, I think he was told to do nothing but hand the ball off (until the throw, of course). Auburn spent the last 8 minutes of the 4th quarter just running it straight up the middle with Stanton Truitt, then Kam Martin, then walk-on Damian Lewis, and it was only on the goal line when ULM finally stopped it. I like what I'm seeing so far.
8) The freshman receivers looked good. Kyle Davis, Nate Craig-Myers, Eli Stove, all three looked good. Ryan Davis is just a sophomore, and he continues to impress on the screen passes, as well. The future is definitely bright with the skill players.
9) All Hail Monty Adams and Carl Lawson. Auburn's star defensive linemen had the game they were supposed to have. Each registered a sack. Monty blocked a field goal and tipped an extra point.
10) Overall, the defense remains excellent. Montavious Atkinson had himself a good day. The other linebackers continued to play well, too. Javaris Davis had a great INT. The one downside was Tray Matthews getting beat a few times or being late to a play. I also really loved seeing a walk-on like Gary Walker get that safety and the enthusiasm the starters had for him when he came back to the sideline. Kevin Steele and his staff are putting well-prepared and athletic defenses on the field, and it's so much fun to watch.
11) Maybe Auburn's better than previously thought. Clemson's defensive line has been pretty dominant (though Louisville put a lot on them in the 2nd half), and Texas A&M continues to do very well on defense, too. LSU always has a good defense. As the offense continues to evolve, this Auburn team may turn out to be much better than we thought. Of course, they could also be exactly what we thought. Five games in and it's hard to tell. We'll find out a whole lot more next week in Starkville, I think.