Gus Malzahn and the Auburn Tigers desperately needed a win. Well, they got that in a 31-16 victory over the Ole Miss Rebels on Saturday. Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham also needed it to silence his doubters, after his three turnover performance last week against the Tennessee Volunteers. Here are some takeaways from Auburn’s victory over Ole Miss.
Takeaways From Auburn’s Victory Over Ole Miss
The Auburn Rushing Attack Returns
The Tigers came into the 2018 season having a streak of nine consecutive seasons with a 1,000 yard rusher. That was going to be a huge task with Kerryon Johnson off to the NFL. While that streak still seems to be in jeopardy, they were able to get the ground game on track Saturday.
The Tigers totaled 269 yards on the ground off 46 carries with an average of 5.8 yards per carry. They were led by freshmen JaTarvious Whitlow with 170 yards. Whitlow looked to have a touchdown in the third quarter, but he fumbled at the goal line at the end of a 55-yard run. Luckily for Auburn, Anthony Schwartz was there to pick it up in the end zone for the score. Whitlow also added four receptions for 38 yards to total 208 yards of total offense.
No Turnovers for Jarrett Stidham
When people talk about Jarrett Stidham, they talk about how he has a pro arm. They also discuss how he will be picked in the upcoming NFL Draft this spring. That is all great, but it is evident from what has been seen on the field that Stidham has regressed. This is not the same quarterback that lit up Big 12 defenses in 2015. This is not the same quarterback that led Auburn to the SEC Championship Game last season.
On Saturday, Stidham was closer to being that quarterback. He was not flashy, but unlike previous weeks he took care of the ball. Against the Volunteers last week, Stidham committed three turnovers and two of those resulted in 14 points. Against Ole Miss he went 13 for 22 with 215 yards and one touchdown. The screen game was a big part of the offense, and big plays made by receivers Seth Williams and Darius Slayton gave the passing game life. Williams had the biggest play of the day with a 62 yard reception late in the second quarter that set up a Malik Miller touchdown that put Auburn up 31-9.
The Defense Stifled the Ole Miss Offense
Ole Miss has one of the better offenses in all of college football, and the SEC leading passer coming into the weekend in Jordan Ta’amu. He put up the yards with 324 but the Rebels were not able to get into the end zone until the fourth quarter when the game was all but over. Through the first three quarters Ole Miss was only able to muster three field goals by Luke Logan. This was despite 155 yards on ten receptions by the super talented receiver A.J. Brown. Brown scored that lone touchdown for Ole Miss that occurred in the fourth quarter.
The Auburn defense was led by a front that found their way to the backfield all afternoon. Auburn totaled five sacks and five quarterback hurries. Nick Coe got to Ta’amu the most out of any Tiger with three sacks and chipped in three tackles for a loss.
Marlon Davidson added in a sack himself, but his biggest impact was on the first Ole Miss possession when he was able to block a field goal attempt. This is the third consecutive game Davidson has been able to block an opponent’s field goal attempt.
The Tigers will get a much needed bye week and hope to get healthy for a stretch run that includes a home game against Texas A&M, and away games to both Georgia and Alabama. The Auburn Tigers are out of any championship race with three losses. But they certainly can help dictate who plays for one at the same time. The month of November should be a fun and interesting ride for this bunch of Tigers.
Check out the latest episode of The Football Report Podcast featuring former Samford and Huntingdon College punter Yancey Gordon:
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