Everything went pretty much according to plan for the Auburn Tigers during Saturday night’s win over San Jose State.

The defense surrendered a long touchdown early in the first quarter, but gave up just two field goals the rest of the way as the offense again ran up-and-down the field in the Tigers’ 46-point win.

Here are five takeaways from the Auburn’s rout of the Spartans:

  • The Tigers can still run the ball: Yes, it was a Mountain West foe in San Jose State, but it was the second consecutive game in which Auburn rushed for more than 300 yards. Nick Marshall and Cameron Artis-Payne both rushed for more than 100 yards, while Corey Grant and Roc Thomas combined for 140 more. Even with the loss of Tre Mason, the Tigers’ running game looks to be as potent again this year.
  • The defense showed glimpses of greatness: It was a far from perfect performance for Ellis Johnson’s guys, but we saw the potential to be a top-tier defense in the SEC.  Auburn forced three turnovers, recorded 10 tackles-for-loss and sacked San Jose State quarterback Blake Jurich four times. Linebackers Kris Frost and Cassanova McKinzy played well, and the defense line was able to create pressure at times. The pieces are there, and if it comes together for the Auburn defense, look out.
  • Special teams unit is improved over a year ago: Quan Bray returned a punt 55 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter and kicking specialist Daniel Carlson made a field goal and had two solid punts to flip the field position. Bray is a more confident returner this season and Carlson looks to be a valuable weapon in the kicking game.
  • Has Nick Marshall really improved as a passer?: Marshall completed just 10 of 19 passes for 101 yards and a touchdown. His footwork was not solid in the pocket and he flat out missed some throws to open targets at times. Meanwhile, Jeremy Johnson completed three of his four passes in mop-up time and threw it with more zip and greater accuracy. With Gus Malzahn saying repeatedly he wanted to be more balanced this season, it will be crucial to watch how much (or little) Marshall has improved in the air as the schedule toughens from here.
  • The Tigers still have no clear leader: During their run to the BCS Championship Game last year, Tre Mason and Dee Ford were the unquestioned leaders of the team, and through two games in 2014, we have yet to see anyone claim the leadership role on this team. Marshall figures to be that person, but he’s had two rather pedestrian games, statistically. So where does it come from? That will be a key when discussing how great this team could be.