Well, 2nd half aside, that was fun. It's always fun when you're up 35-0 at the half against anyone. When you're up 35-0 at the half against Dan Mullen, then it's just gravy.
Auburn needed to win this one in a big way. They won it. In a big way.
For the recap of the game, go ahead and read what I wrote yesterday. For now, let's just talk about the observations on the game I have prior to any re-watch.
1) Let me hear no more about a QB controversy. If Sean White gets into serious struggles and Auburn needs a spark as it did against Texas A&M, I'm fine with JFIII getting snaps. But Sean White is straight dealing right now. He's throwing at near 70% completion percentage. In the last 3 games - which includes against two SEC defenses, he's at 77%. He hangs in the pocket. He throws strikes. Sure, he needs some polish on the deep ball, but when he over throws people, you can't start talking about his arm strength being the problem.
Either way, this team loves to play with him. Go read what Marcello at 247Sports wrote about him and see the reaction Tony Stevens had when told about White's completion percentage. Stevens knows those numbers would be even better if he hauls in that 3rd down pass on Auburn's first drive instead of letting it bounce off and become an INT.
For those of you awaiting another (because LSU counts, too) great performance by White against an SEC defense, are you happy, now?
2) Bubba Da Beast. Kerryon Johnson left the game on Auburn's second drive - after averaging 7 yards per carry on 3 carries - with a leg injury. We don't know how serious it is, right now. What we do know is that Kamryn Pettway came in and carried the load quite well. Pettway isn't exactly a home run threat. He's not going to make moves on you. He's just going to crush your soul 4-5 yards at a time. He finished the game with 169 yards on a staggering 39 carries.
3) Wide Receivers continue to impress. Tony Stevens had the one bad drop, but other than that, the wide receivers did a great job in this one. White had four incompletions. One was the INT, one was an overthrow on the sidelines that was more of a throwaway, one was a deep ball over thrown, and I can't remember the other. Aside from that, the wide receivers were taking everything White was dealing, and that included some great over-the-middle throws.
4) Return of the Tubershell. What do we call it, here? The LaSHELLee? It sucked to see Auburn go ultra-conservative (the Tigers attempted 2 passes in the 2nd half), but on the other hand it's fun to have a big enough lead in an SEC game where you can do that.
5) Rhett Lashlee's play calling is pretty good. 1st down passes. Faking the sugar-huddle pitch. Passes over the middle. Some slant passes. A rollout throwback for the first touchdown. I think it's safe to say turning over the play calling to Rhett has been a good choice.
6) This OL configuration is working nicely. I don't know how bad Xavier Dampeer's injury may be, but the current lineup with Darius James at left tackle and Austin Golson at center has been a big boost for the Tigers. Lashlee and Herb Hand seem to have simplified things a bit with less pulling of the guards, too, but whatever the changes, they've been working well the last few weeks.
7) The Carl and Monty Show. Those two have seriously stepped up their game over the last few weeks. Lawson was particularly spectacular in this one with two credited sacks. One of those resulted in a Montravius Adams scoop-and-score. That wasn't Adams' only fumble recovery, either. He also snagged one when someone on MSU's OL forgot to block Marlon Davidson and he forced another fumble. Which leads me to...
8) Marlon Davidson is something special. He made a few plays today in the early going that were essential to Auburn's success. On an early 3rd down in the 1st quarter, MSU had a pass over the middle that could have gone for a 1st down, but Davidson tracked the play down and made the stop short of the line to gain. Coupled with his sack and forced fumble, that was a great game for the true freshman.
9) Running through their soul. Tre Williams is living up to his fellow T-Will, Travis Williams. T-Will wanted his linebackers to run through ball carriers' souls, and the linebackers have been living up to that. Tre on one key stop in particular filled a hole that could have been a big MSU first down and absolutely swallowed the ball carrier for no gain. Deshaun Davis had a key tip on a 2nd quarter drive, too. The linebacker play has been something special.
10) Daniel Carlson is the greatest. He only had one field goal to go with all his extra points, but he did have one moment that makes him great. Late in the first half a Mississippi State player jumped offside on the extra point attempt and put a cheap-shot hit on Carlson. After the game, Carlson just laughed it off.
Got hit for the first time in my football career. It was awesome. So was that win. #WarEagle— Daniel Carlson (@DanielCarlson38) October 8, 2016
But, seriously, that was a cheap hit. The guy should have been ejected just on principle.
11) Dominating SEC road wins are rare and should be cherished. Mississippi State has been a bur in Gus Malzahn's side for the last two years. Beating them is always fun. Destroying them - and their Cousin Eddie coach - is even better. Blowouts on the road in the SEC West are extremely rare. I really didn't expect this game to go the way that it did. I'm going to look forward to enjoying it for the next two weeks.
Although, you know, I guess we should just be thankful we pulled this one out by the skin of our teeth, right Dan?
Dan Mullen: We shoulda/coulda won this game. We dominated the second half. This is a team to be reckoned with down the stretch.— Greg Mitchell (@gregmitchell74) October 8, 2016
12) The bye week comes at a wonderful time. With the running back depth taking a hit with the loss of Malik Miller, Auburn really needs to get Kerryon Johnson healthy. Having a bye week to rest him up before the Arkansas game is huge. A break of any kind after six straight weeks of football is good. In a way, you hate to kill the momentum. Still, I think this is a good time to let Auburn take a look at what's been working in the last three weeks and really fine-tune it before the gauntlet that is the season's 2nd half.
It's time to sit back, relax, and relish being 4-2 at the half-way point. I think that's about as good as most people expected at the beginning of the season. It should be better than that, and that's still very frustrating, but this team is on an upward trajectory. Take a week off, and come back ready to handle the Hawgs in two weeks.