Auburn beat Arkansas 34-3 last night, the Tigers covered the 30-point spread, and the defense/special teams looked outstanding. There just wasn’t much on offense to write home about. It was one of those nights where nothing’s really working, from execution to communication. Auburn was fortunate to be playing an Arkansas team that’s not in any position to compete with the rest of the SEC yet, because if we’d played a top tier SEC team last night we would’ve gotten blasted.
Also, let’s check out what Gus Malzahn had to say about the game, courtesy of AL.com.
- Opening statement: Goal was to disrupt the quarterback, and they did that. There was a lot of blitzing from Kevin Steele’s defense that helped create a lot of pressure. Special teams were great, and on offense, they didn’t play well but didn’t turn the ball over.
- As far as the offensive identity, Gus says that he wants to run the football better, but tonight we didn’t have to play well on offense against the Hogs.
- As far as the offensive line shuffles went, pass protection was a major issue, but Gus needs to look at the film first before he makes any real assessments. Running the football is still a need. He mentions how the new center in Nick Brahms may take a little while to get fully ready with the rest of the line, but it’s a matter of giving him reps with the first team.
- Special teams: Jordyn Peters has had major pressure on punt block situation, he’s just been put in good positions by the coaching staff. Noah Igbinoghene’s kickoff return touchdown gave everyone a little sigh of relief.
- The buck sweep was a nice addition on the long touchdown drive in the fourth quarter.
- Gus doesn’t really go over much with Stidham’s night. He was holding the ball a little much at times, but he needs to look at the film.
- Gus admits that maybe he got into his own head on the fourth down calls, after missing the first fourth and one conversion, then he didn’t go for it on fourth down after the fumble return.
- Everyone can see that Auburn played two top ten teams, beat one, lost on the last play against the other, and there are definite areas for improvement, but we’ll continue to return.
- Special teams again were just a weapon and going forward it’ll really put pressure on other teams when there’s a threat to take it to the house on any return. It’s a big relief that that phase is becoming a strength. They did much more live stuff in practice and it’s clearly helped.
- Red zone: we need to work on everything. Always taken pride in running the ball, and we need to do better at that.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME
Most times there’s a singular guy that you can point to for this category. There’s usually a guy that had the 100-yard game or the huge play, but that didn’t happen last night. We’re just going to give it to Boobee Whitlow, since he had two touchdowns on the ground, and that last drive was very Ben Tate-like with the buck sweeps for mucho yardage. Total stat line: 13 carries, 49 yards, 2 touchdowns. Anthony Schwartz also had a nice game with three catches for 59 yards and two carries for nine yards.
OFFENSIVE PLAY OF THE GAME
We’re taking some liberties here. No, this wasn’t on offense, but it was certainly effective as the Tigers answered Arkansas’ only score of the game in the third quarter. We saw Noah Igbinoghene nearly take a kickoff back against UCF last year, but he found the seam last night and flat out ran away from the kick coverage team.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME
It’s equally difficult to find a defensive player of the game as it was to find a standout on offense, but for a completely different reason. Everyone played well last night, and Kevin Steele wasn’t shy about throwing young guys in left and right. Smoke Monday, Christian Tutt, Jamien Sherwood, and Roger McCreary all played a ton of snaps last night and it’ll definitely help down the road. So who gets the player of the game honor?
I could go with Smoke Monday, who got a sack on a blitz just like he did in the Washington game.
Or we could go with Jamel Dean, whose coverage was great (and penalty-free), not to mention his crushing TFL late in the game.
What about Daniel Thomas, who had six solo tackles and a fumble recovery that nearly turned into his second touchdown this season?
Or Jordyn Peters, who partially blocked one punt and nearly got another while playing very well in the back end?
And there was also Marlon Davidson, who notched four quarterback hurries along with five tackles.
But we’re going with the man WHO DONE GOT CHEATED AT THE END OF THE FIRST HALF.
Javaris Davis only had one tackle, but he added a pass breakup and great coverage that resulted in the defensive and overall play of the game...
DEFENSIVE PLAY OF THE GAME
Check out Javaris Davis' electric interception return at the end of the first half, from the field.— AUBlog (@AUBlog) September 23, 2018
A flag negated the play. pic.twitter.com/UU3xsaKIk0
Technically, it didn’t happen, and Anders Carlson missed a field goal from long range after the block in the back negated the play. Still, Davis’ sweet moves showed the kind of defensive effort that we’ve seen from Alabama and Georgia recently. Auburn’s defense isn’t just a wall now, it’s a weapon.
Southern Miss next weekend, so there’s more room for improvement on offense, and then it’s the first big road test of the year against Mississippi State (although that looks less troubling than it did 24 hours ago). War Eagle!