Auburn got back on the winning side of things yesterday, notching win number FIVE in beating the Ole Miss Rebels 31-16 in Oxford. It was a win that we absolutely needed to see if we’re trying to envision a world in which Gus Malzahn is still the head coach at Auburn in 2019. This doesn’t 100% clinch his return for next season (we could still go winless the rest of the way, I guess), but it certainly helps.
Now let’s listen to what Gus Malzahn had to say after the win:
- Main takeaway that we were able to run the football, and the third quarter was our best quarter (both of which are complete opposites of what we’ve seen so far this season).
- Gus mentions that the freshmen and younger players were huge in making a ton of plays today.
- Without having Jeremiah Dinson and Jamel Dean for the first half and entire game respectively, Auburn played really well against the pass defense with backups taking the snaps on defense.
- Gus talks about weathering the storm of negativity and says that it either divides you (which some people were pulling for — calling out the Nega-Barners), or brings you together and galvanizes the team, which is what it did yesterday.
- As for the negativity, the wolves and jackals (not fans) are pulling for that kind of thing because they want to see chaos.
- Marlon Davidson blocked another field goal and had another good defensive day without being 100% health-wise. Boobee Whitlow was the same way, but had a huge day despite being dinged up a little bit.
- For the first time this year, Auburn made some really good halftime adjustments. The big plays were huge and Auburn had impact plays that affected the game in a positive way.
- On the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, Gus says that he’s going to fight for his players. No cussing, but he’s going to fight.
- The infamous tweaks that we were supposed to see were pretty minor, but they were effective as Auburn had maybe its smoothest game of the season on both sides of the ball.
- Nick Coe dominated one of the better tackles in the SEC and Auburn got pressure with just the front four. There wasn’t much need to blitz, and the Tigers did a good job getting to Jordan Ta’amu with just the line.
- Anders Carlson will still be the kicker, he just needs to get his confidence back. Auburn’s had a problem putting him in situations where he’s asked to kick really long field goals and that’s not going to help.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME
This one’s easy. Boobee Whitlow got Auburn started on the first drive of the game with 43 yards and a touchdown, and he carried the Tiger offense all game long with over 200 all-purpose yards. He caught a touchdown pass, nearly had another touchdown on a long run (points taken away for the fumble), and showed off the same Kerryon-like skills that are still fresh in Auburn fans’ minds.
Excellent patience by Boobee Whitlow pic.twitter.com/45umjghtMN— Skye Underwood (@SkyeUnderwood) October 20, 2018
He finished the day with 170 rushing yards, and 208 total yards on 23 touches. Let me check my math, but that’s a very efficient day from the Auburn tailback. Now he gets a week off to heal up and come back better than ever for Texas A&M in November.
OFFENSIVE PLAY OF THE GAME
Boobee Whitlow 55-yard touchdown...oops, Boobee Whitlow 55-yard run & Anthony Schwartz got the touchdown that the officials robbed him of on Auburn’s last series pic.twitter.com/eXymK7VYy5— Power of Dixieland (@PwrofDixieland) October 20, 2018
Two weeks ago, Boobee Whitlow had a long run that looked like it was about to change the complexion of the game at Mississippi State. Instead, he fumbled into the end zone and it was ruled a touchback. Yesterday, we saw the same thing, but Anthony Schwartz was on the spot to recover the ball for the score. Either way, the burst from Whitlow and the push of the offensive line makes this our play of the game. Ole Miss would never really recover from this one, and it was never a one-score ballgame again after this play.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME
This is a little tougher. Auburn got some really good performances from the defensive line, the young defensive backs in place of injured or targeting-suspension-sidelined starters, and one linebacker hit a milestone (Deshaun Davis passing Travis Williams for career tackles).
We’ve got to focus on the front four though. Marlon Davidson blocked a field goal for the THIRD straight game, and he also notched a sack on defense as well, but I’m going to give the edge to Nick Coe. Coe finished the game with four tackles and three sacks. He was the first Auburn player to notch three sacks since Quentin Groves in 2006.
Nick Coe fights through a double team to register his 3rd sack of the game pic.twitter.com/dgNtb5OVNc— Power of Dixieland (@PwrofDixieland) October 20, 2018
Auburn’s defense recorded five sacks on the game, and did it without blitzing much. Even Jamien Sherwood got in on the sacktion!
DEFENSIVE PLAY OF THE GAME
Marlon Davidson just blocked an Ole Miss field goal. It was his 3rd consecutive game with a blocked field goal. Did I mention that he’s playing hurt today? pic.twitter.com/PVnJ6o1UVa— Skye Underwood (@SkyeUnderwood) October 20, 2018
This is cheating a little bit because it came on special teams, but Marlon Davidson has a three-game streak of successfully blocking field goals. Come on. That deserves a kudos. Whatever Auburn’s doing on special teams to put him in this situation is working, and he’s taking advantage. This was a big momentum swing after Ole Miss drove into Auburn territory on the first drive of the game and nearly took the lead. The defense stood up, got the block, and the Tigers scored on the next drive. They’d never trail in yesterday’s win.
Now, we’re on to Texas A&M. The Aggies were off yesterday, but they’ll head to Starkville this coming weekend before continuing the road trip at Auburn. It’s the final home SEC game of the year, so the fans need to be out in force. Whether you support Gus Malzahn or not, there’s no denying the happiness on the players’ faces yesterday, and you’ve got to support them the rest of the way.