Auburn won last night in a big way, just as everyone expected and just as everyone knew they would. Well, maybe even a bit better than expected. Even the walk-ons on defense held Alabama A&M scoreless and kept them just barely over the 100-yard mark on offense. That's the mark of a fantastic defense.
The offense struggled at times, but with the starting running back and starting quarterback hurt, that wasn't a shock, either. They got things going after some struggles and managed to put this game away early.
Let's get to the THOUGHTS.
1) I am so damn happy for Jeremy Johnson. I thought Johnson was going to lead Auburn to greatness when the 2015 season started. I thought he was going to be the pro-style QB we needed to anchor Gus Malzahn's ridiculous run game and it would be Malzahn's Tulsa offenses on steroids. Things didn't work out that way, though. Last night was Jeremy Johnson's final game in Jordan-Hare Stadium, and he made the best of it. No, his decisions weren't always great. He still threw one of the prettiest touchdown passes I've seen in a while to Kyle Davis and had two rushing touchdowns, as well. For someone whose dream didn't quite turn out the way we all thought it would, it was so much fun watching him go out with a good performance.
2) Auburn's running game is plug-and-play. This is what makes me so frustrated about last week. Keep your arguments about "what if JJ had played against UGA?" I'm more concerned with why Kam Martin didn't play against them. Yes, Martin came into this game against an already worn down Alabama A&M defense, but he put up 176 yards in a quarter and a half. That's damn impressive. Kerryon Johnson - who ran for over 100 yards and a touchdown - looked noticeably slowed down with a hitch in his step. You can't tell me Kam Martin couldn't have done what he did - and maybe better - in this game.
The offensive line was making sure the running backs were getting 2-3 yards before contact, as usual, so Johnson should have stayed on the sidelines and rested in this game. I truly wonder if this staff really just hopes they can get him over 1k yards, too, and that's why they left him in as long as they did in this game. He's now under 180 yards from 1000 for the season.
3) Auburn's defensive line is something else. Every statement of praise from this game has to be followed with "well, it was against a bad FCS team," but still. The defensive line batted down numerous passes. One of them was intercepted. By Montravius Adams because of course. They blocked a field goal to preserve the shutout. They were chasing A&M's quarterback out of the pocket all night. If there's one thing that gives me a spark of hope for next week it's knowing that our defense is just as good as LSU's, and look what they did against Alabama.
4) Daniel Carlson is human. He missed a kick. It was his first non-blocked miss, but it might be enough to cost him the Lou Groza Award as Arizona State's kicker is still insanely good, too.
5) John Franklin III needs to get the ball in his hands. His passing may not be great. He's still the fastest player on the team and if he gets a look at green space, then he's gone. That's something Auburn has got to find a way to use somehow. I don't know how good his hands are, but with JJ's arm strength, I say we just send Franklin running full speed on a deep ball and let JJ (who I'm guessing will probably start next week) chuck it to him.
6) The story of 2016 will be questionable play calling. It should be Kevin Steele's defense. I'm not going to say much about this right now because there's a whole article on this topic. There's a whole series of articles on this topic if we're honest. When Steele was hired in late December, everyone was shaking their head and talking about how bad of a hire it was. Here we are in late November and we're talking about the best defense Auburn has put on the field in a decade or more.
There's really not a whole lot else you can say about this game. It was what it was. Now we turn our eyes upon Bama. It's Iron Bowl week.
War Eagle. Always.