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What We Learned from Auburn’s 23-16 Victory over Vanderbilt

Vanderbilt entered Saturday’s game as 25 point underdogs. It wasn’t that easy for Auburn.

NCAA Football: Vanderbilt at Auburn Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

Writing blogs that start with “Tale of two halves” is cliche, but sometimes it makes sense despite how much one tries to avoid it.

Today’s Noon game between Auburn and Vanderbilt is one of those times that cliche can’t be avoided. The Auburn offense only attempted three passes in the first half, was held to 124 yards, and seven first downs. It’s a causal that John Franklin III got the start at quarterback over Sean White. The second half was something else entirely as Sean White started, as well as a hefty dose of Kerryon Johnson in the Wildcat formation.

Auburn would finish the game with 386 total yards to Vanderbilt’s 341 total yards. 271 of Auburn’s yards would come on the ground on 45 rush attempts. Sean White going 10-for-13 in the second half would add another 106 yards, and his production kept the offense ahead of the chains and provided his defense respite.

What Did We Learn?

  1. Auburn is a seriously flawed team without Sean White. Auburn’s offense struggled in the first half with John Franklin III at the helm. Franklin only attempted three passes suggesting the lack of confidence the Auburn coaching staff has in a balanced attack while he’s under center. This made the offense more predictable, and hurt the defense by forcing them on the field for longer stretches. Franklin is an electric on his feet, but one wonders if his transfer from Florida State was more about a position change request than the depth chart.
  2. Kamryn Pettway is quietly one of the SEC’s best running backs. Pettway averaged seven yards per carry Saturday as he went for 173 yards on 25 carries. When Jovon Robinson was dismissed from the team in the preseason, I doubt many thought Pettway would stake his claim as the top SEC running back. The Mountain That Rides has done just that and has earned wider national attention.
  3. Vanderbilt remains a competitive team. The Commodores get a lot of trash talk, but Derek Mason’s squad continues to scare teams. Lord knows what has happened to the defense this season, but the offense continues to improve. Today, quarterback Kyle Shurmur was 24-for-36 against one of the SEC’s best defenses. The conventional thinking is that running back Ralph Webb must be great in order for Vandy to win, but today he only had 46 yards while Vandy was seven points away from defeating a top ten team on the road. Vandy is better than Missouri and could catch Ole Miss or Tennessee sleeping in the last two weeks of seasons both programs wish was over.