For the most part, this season has been a cakewalk for the Auburn Tigers. Obviously, there are those two toe-stubbings (which were more like toe-amputations) in Death Valley part one and part two, but in every other game Auburn has been basically unchallenged.
In our SEC wins, the margin of victory has been 37, 39, 21, 32, and 15. In the only loss, we led 20-0 and sat on the ball. Essentially, when this team is on, it’s been just as dominant as Georgia or Alabama. We’ll get to make true comparisons coming up in the next three weekends.
As for yesterday, we began slow but were able to overcome a deficit early on, use a couple of big plays to take the lead, and then mix and match the offensive scheme on the way to building that lead. We didn’t get the characteristic hot start offensively that we’ve seen in most of our games, but it didn’t matter yesterday.
We were watching a team play for a coach that’s not likely to last much longer, and a team that’s played poorly in November nearly every year under said coach. Auburn was A&M’s last-ditch effort to try to cobble together a solid year, and the Tigers were able to squash that idea pretty quickly.
Let’s go to the highlights.
It was a bizarre game with the two blocked field goals (not good if we want to use our safest weapon to help us beat Georgia and Alabama), but our special teams also made a couple of big plays, including one that changed the tenor of the game completely.
PLAY OF THE GAME
It’s the blocked punt. Leading 14-13 after a 53-yard touchdown pass from Jarrett Stidham to Darius Slayton, Auburn forced A&M to punt from deep in their own territory. Nick Ruffin sliced between the up-backs and spiked the punt off the kicker’s helmet. It ricocheted back toward the goal line, where Will Hastings nearly recovered it for a touchdown. Instead, five or six Tigers converged on the ball and Malik Miller was the guy that covered it in the endzone for the score. Just like that, Auburn led 21-13 with two touchdowns in the final 90 seconds of the half.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME
It’s difficult to pick between the guy who threw for three touchdowns for the first time as a Tiger, or the guy who rumbled for nearly 150 yards and providing the mojo on the ground.
We’re going to go with the latter — Kerryon Johnson. KJ ran 29 times for 145 yards and scored two touchdowns (1 rushing, 1 receiving) and paced the ground attack that ran for a workmanlike 228 yards on 52 carries.
It seemed like Johnson ran angry at times as well, making plenty of hay without gaping holes to run through.
We’ll need more of that next weekend when the #1 team in the country comes to town.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME
We’re giving the nod tonight to the big man in the middle — Derrick Brown had himself a fantastic game on the defensive line, and at times it looked like we didn’t even need Tre’ Williams and Tray Matthews in the back end to help out in their return to the field.
Brown had seven tackles, with one TFL, and was a huge reason that the Auburn defense forced seven three-and-outs yesterday.
It goes without saying. Texas A&M blocked two field goals yesterday, and by the time we lined up for the second one, I didn’t feel confident in our ability to hit it at all. A&M does have a bunch of talent, but a blocked field goal is the kind of momentum-swinging play that we can’t afford to give up against Georgia or Alabama over the next few weeks.
After watching those two play yesterday, anyone that thinks they’re invincible is out of their mind. Middling 24-10 wins over South Carolina and LSU weren’t impressive, and both teams look the same to me at this point. Great running attacks, and a quarterback that’s not asked to do much of anything. Georgia hasn’t had to play from behind at all this year, and Alabama looks flat out bored right now.
Next weekend is going to be a fun affair at home with the top-ranked Bulldogs coming to town, and that stadium’s going to be absolutely rocking. A win over #1 will likely put Auburn close to the top five, if not inside it. It’s absolutely a possibility that it’ll happen. Let’s go. War Eagle.