Rapid Reaction: Auburn's complete effort quiets cowbells
Here are some quick thoughts on Auburn’s 38-14 domination over Mississippi State on Saturday.
What it means: The Tigers move to 2-1 in the SEC, proving themselves to be a threat in the SEC West race.
Mississippi State, on the other hand, is now 1-2 in the conference with its only win being an unimpressive one against South Carolina in Week 2. The Bulldogs are all but officially out of the running for the SEC West title, and they’re on the verge of an altogether embarrassing season.
What I liked:
- Mississippi State started the game with so much energy, it looked like the Tigers might be overwhelmed in their first road game of the season. The Bulldogs got an interception in the first drive of the game, quickly showing Auburn they were ready to fight. Unfortunately for Mississippi State, the team couldn’t capitalize on the takeaway. Bulldogs K Westin Graves missed the 28-yard field goal, giving the Tigers a huge break.
- After just three carries, Tigers star RB Kerryon Johnson came out of the game with a leg injury. Luckily for Auburn, RB Kamryn Pettway was ready to answer the call. Pettway stepped up in a big way and immediately made an impact for the Tigers.
- Pettway was assisted by an Auburn offensive line that simply dominated the Bulldogs up front. The only time the Bulldogs got a jump on the Auburn line was when they garnered two penalties by literally jumping offsides and over the Tigers’ center to hit K Daniel Carlson.
- Auburn truly showed it was a complete team today in Starkville because the Tigers’ defense was bruising. The Bulldogs didn’t get a first down until the end of the first quarter, and they didn’t cross the goal line until the middle of the third. The defense returned a fumble for a touchdown in the second quarter and pulled down an interception in the fourth quarter.
What I didn’t like:
- As I said, the Bulldogs didn’t put points on the board until the middle of the third quarter. This has become a habit for the Bulldogs’ offense, and Mississippi State QB Nick Fitzgerald needs to get going much sooner in the game if the team wants to salvage its season. It probably doesn’t help that he is playing in the shadow of former Bulldogs QB Dak Prescott.
- Mississippi State’s defense was winded early. By the middle of the first quarter, the Bulldogs looked like they were in triple overtime. Yes, they were getting pushed around by a physical Auburn offense, but that lack of conditioning is unacceptable. Mississippi State didn’t look like an SEC defense today.
- As hot as Auburn’s offense was in the first half, it died off in the third quarter despite keeping most of the starters in the game. In fact, the last touchdown the Tigers scored was taken in by Montravius Adams after recovering a fumble.
Who’s the man:
Auburn RB Kamryn Pettway played like a veteran today despite having only played backup so far this season. Before taveling to Starkville, Pettway played in four games, and he carried the ball 52 times for 336 yards and 1 TD. Today alone, he got 39 carries for 169 yards and 3 TDs.
The collection of plays making up Auburn’s first scoring drive were key in this game. After throwing an interception and getting lucky when Graves missed a 28-yard field goal, Auburn took full advantage of its second chance. It only took the Tigers nine plays and 80 yards to score their first of many touchdowns. This drive didn’t just shift the momentum, it set the tone for the rest of the game.
Auburn takes next week off to prepare for the Razorbacks’ arrival to The Plains in Week 8. After playing five games at home, the Tigers will spend every other week on the road for the remainder of the season.
The Bulldogs travel to Provo, Utah next week to face BYU.