It was a hard-fought win, but one the Tigers should learn from and will improve from.

Nothing seemed to go right for the Tigers on the offensive side of the ball, but the defense came up all night and Nick Marshall made a few plays late to seal the win for the Tigers

Here are five takeaways from the Auburn’s close win over Kansas State:

The Auburn defense is improved under Ellis Johnson: They gave up chunks of yards at time, but the Auburn defense is the unit that made plays all night long against the Wildcats. Auburn forced three turnovers and surrendered just 40 rushing yards on 30 attempts. The Tigers had trouble getting off the field on third down at times, but came up big in the second half with three sacks. It was a bend, but don’t break mantra in 2013 for the Tigers, but they stepped up in the red zone.

Off-night: Yes, this seems obvious, but perhaps the long layoff didn’t benefit the offensive side of the football as much. Auburn got off to an extremely slow start and had its worst offensive game under Gus Malzahn as either a coordinator or head coach. The Tigers ran for just 128 yards and Auburn wideouts had a serious case of the drops. K-State couldn’t take advantage of the Tigers miscues, but other teams in the SEC West will. It had to be a different sight for Auburn fans to see their team lean on the defense to win a game.

Do what you do: Just because the Tigers have two of the best wideouts in college football in Sammie Coates and Duke Williams, there’s no need to drift some your bread-and-butter. Perhaps this was more of the balanced approach Malzahn was talking about all offseason (the Tigers attempted 45 rushes and 31 passes), but running the football with authority took the Tigers to Pasadena last season, so there’s no need for Malzahn to try and force a passing game.

Jeremy Johnson has no clear role: Malzahn has said the opposite publicly, but we again saw very little of Jeremy Johnson. His only time on the field was late in the fourth quarter when in an awkward situation, Johnson was sent in to the game as a decoy at receiver with Quan Bray lined up at the Wildcat. Then Johnson was unsure whether or not to stay on the field before Malzahn sent Marshall back in late in the play clock. Marshall again struggled for the most part throwing the football, and you had to wonder whether or not we would see Johnson earlier in the game with the offense completely out of rhythm.

Don’t overreact: Auburn won a tough game in a very hostile environment on a Thursday night against a very disciplined team. Yes, K-State a blueprint to slow down the Auburn rushing attack but both Nick Marshall and the defense made plays late when they needed to. Auburn is still in a beautiful spot when it comes to contending for the SEC West title and its hopes of a berth in the College Football Playoff.