Auburn beat Georgia Southern 41-7 last night in a game that was decidedly sloppy on one side of the ball, and completely flippin’ dominant on the other.
The Tiger offense gained 535 yards on the night, but really didn’t look in sync with a pretty vanilla playbook coming from offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey. On defense, it was decidedly un-vanilla. Man, it was cookies ‘n’ cream, Neapolitan, rainbow sprinkles and cookie dough on top. Kevin Steele’s unit came to play. Therefore...
OVERALL PLAYER OF THE GAME
We can’t name just one, since the entire defensive front seven notched 12 tackles for loss and 5 sacks (which may have been higher, it’s tough to tell when they run every play). Georgia Southern threw for 8 yards. EIGHT. Now, they did beat Florida in 2013 while throwing for zero yards, but that’s beside the point.
The Eagles gained just 78 total yards last night, with 25 coming on one play. Other than that, they averaged 0.96 yards per play (53 yards on 55 plays). It was a fantastic effort, the kind that you see atop the notes in the media guide for years to come. 1985 was the last time that Auburn held an opponent to such a low standard offensively.
So, who was most responsible for the troubles?
If we have to narrow it down, Tre’ Williams, Marlon Davidson, and Jeff Holland were the guys seriously harassing freshman quarterback Shai Werts last night. Williams and Davidson each grabbed two sacks, Holland another, and they were the ones constantly forcing the issue on the option runs to the outside.
But in addition to those three, you constantly saw guys like Byron Cowart causing havoc inside, Derrick Brown stuffed the middle constantly, and even the safeties got into it. Stephen Roberts had a huge tackle for loss, and Tray Matthews was consistently in the action coming up from his deep position.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME
I think it’s really important to note the kind of stress that one Auburn offensive player was dealing with as we headed into last night’s game. Kam Martin’s family was smack dab in the middle of Hurricane Harvey’s path, but he was able to work through the heartache to play in the opener.
Martin, bumped up to second-string after the announcement that Kam Pettway had been suspended for the game, got his opportunity early. Kerryon Johnson scored on a 60-yard sprint down the right sideline in the first quarter, but he came up limping on a run in the next quarter, giving Martin plenty of time to make his mark. He came in and ran for 136 yards on the night with a touchdown to boot. In that total, he had runs of 36 yards (on his touchdown) and a 61-yard explosion when Auburn began a drive in the shadow of its own goalpost. Down to the third-string running back in the second quarter, Martin showed that he could run between the tackles and provide the spark that the Tigers needed on offense.
PLAY OF THE GAME
I’ll go off the beaten path and say that Jarrett Stidham’s 14-yard touchdown scamper was the play of the game for a couple reasons. One, it took the cap off for our quarterback who was in his first live ammo situation in nearly two years as he got his first touchdown in an Auburn uniform. You could see that Stidham was a little hesitant before (and even some after) that run, but his confidence rose greatly after he reached the end zone.
Second, and this was alluded to in our Snap Judgments from earlier today, there was an element of the run-pass option in that play. Stidham still could’ve thrown the ball, but instead he tucked it and ran. It was one of a few insights into the next layer of this year’s offense. I’m sure we’ll run it for a touchdown against Alabama and get called for an ineligible man downfield.
QUOTE OF THE GAME
Ball security? Malzahn: "It's been sloppy as crap! We'll address it" @SECNetwork— Tom Hart (@tom_hart) September 3, 2017
You know this is as good as a straight-up blasphem from our head coach. That’s as far as he’ll go.
With the news that Florida State quarterback Deondre Francois is out for the season after sustaining a knee injury in the late stages of last night’s game against Alabama, Auburn will now head into Death Valley to meet the new ACC favorite in Clemson. It was announced earlier today that the Tigers opened up as seven point underdogs to Dabo’s bunch, but I’ll bet my hat we beat them.
Coming later this week, we’ll have a two-part interview with Shakin’ the Southland’s Ryan Kantor about the game and how Clemson looked in their opener, a win over Kent State.
Until then, War Eagle.