The hearts of Auburn Tigers fans sunk upon hearing about the suspensions of RB Kamryn Pettway, WR Kyle Davis and backup QB Sean White. Nonetheless, the Tigers got it done at home in a 41-7 victory over Georgia Southern.
All eyes were on starting QB Jarrett Stidham, the highly-touted transfer from Baylor. In his first start on The Plains, Stidham was 15-24 for 185 yards. His two touchdown passes went to Ryan Davis and Will Hastings, on top of a 14-yard rushing touchdown with his legs.
Kerryon Johnson got the start in place of Pettway and finished his night with 139 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown. Johnson exited the game with a hamstring injury, which is a cause for concern moving forward. He was replaced by Kam Martin, who picked up as many yards on 14 carries with a touchdown of his own.
The Tigers were stellar on defense, allowing only 78 yards of total offense and zero points (The only touchdown the Eagles scored was on a fumble return). The defense finished the night with 12 tackles for loss and five sacks. Senior linebacker Tre’ Williams led the Tigers with 10 tackles. Jeff Holland, Marlon Davidson and Stephen Roberts each had two tackles for loss.
Senior placekicker Daniel Carlson had a bit of a surprising night, missing two of his four field goal attempts. Carlson, however, remains perfect on PATs in his career and his kickoffs are rarely returnable.
If their performance last night is a foreshadowing of what’s to come, Auburn’s defense has the potential to be among the best in school history (The last time the defense allowed 78 yards, I wasn’t even alive). If Holland and Davidson can get in the backfield as often as they did last night, they will be a nuisance to every QB they face this year.
The offense looked reasonably good, although there are some issues (i.e., a few bad quarterback/center exchanges) that need to be corrected quickly to keep Auburn competitive against better defenses.
The sky is not falling just because Carlson missed two field goals on opening night, but the Tigers will need more consistency from him throughout the course of the season.
We will know a lot more about this team in next week’s game at Clemson.