Going into Saturday, I had a pretty good feeling about Auburn's chances against Arkansas. The Tigers were coming off of a bye week, and Arkansas had just won an emotional game against Ole Miss. I figured it would be nip and tuck, and that Auburn would pull away at the end.
What i did not count on is the Arkansas players acting like dumbasses before the game even started, giving Auburn even more motivation to throttle the Hogs.
And boy did Auburn throttle the Hogs.
I cannot think of a better defensive performance by an Auburn team. You would have to go back years.
I probably can think of as good of a rushing performance. The 2013 SEC championship game comes to mind.
The offensive outburst of the last 3 weeks comes down to adjusting personnel on the offensive line. Maybe the swap at center made all the difference in the world, but when running backs aren't touched for 5 yards that makes a difference. It also makes the difference that one of those backs is Kam Pettway, who reminds me an awful lot of Ron Dayne from years past.
He is not what you would call "shifty". But he is actually pretty quick laterally and can make a sidestep to find open running room. And he is a bad hombre' when he gets to the second level.*
The most ridiculous thing about the rushing performance Saturday, and there were baskets of ridiculous, is that Kerryon Johnson didn't even play. He got another week to heal up for the stretch run.
Defensively, Auburn is having a revival. The defensive line is as good as it has been in I don't know when. The linebackers run to the ball with vengeance and get people on the ground. In years past we have seen them out of position, over-running plays, and missing tackles. This linebacking corps is solid, and is probably the single most improved group on this team.
The schedule sets up nicely for Auburn from here on out. Ole Miss suffered its 4th loss already. They have been undone by injuries on offense and defense. And to be honest, they are just not as good as everyone thought even without all the injuries.
After that, Vanderbilt is Vanderbilt. Auburn should be favored against UGA. Follow that up with a cupcake in Bama A&M. Auburn is legitimately looking at 9 wins going into the Iron Bowl.
It just goes to show you that football seasons are marathons, not sprints. I had very little hope for Gus Malzahn and this team after early losses to Clemson and A&M. But Gus made adjustments, the biggest being turning over play calling to his protege, who saw things Gus didn't see (Like that a pirouetting fullback was a stupid idea).
The bottom line is there is young talent all over the place on this Auburn offense. And Lashlee has done a tremendous job of getting the right people in the right places.
I believe Auburn goes to Oxford and takes care of business Saturday night, to set up a very fun November.
*Apologies to the G.O.P. with the "Bad Hombres'. No really, my apologies. Trump is the political equivalent of Brett Bielemma. He's big, loud, and doesn't know what he's talking about 80% of the time.