Rapid Reaction: Auburn underwhelming in 24-10 victory over Mercer
It was expected that Auburn’s game against Mercer would be little more than a glorified scrimmage.
It ended up being far tougher than that. The Tigers led by just a touchdown, 17-10, midway through the fourth quarter. But running back Kamryn Pettway punched it in with 4:50 remaining, helping Auburn pull away for a 24-10 victory.
Sitting at 2-1 overall after Saturday’s win, Auburn turns its attention to its SEC opener, which will come on the road next week versus a struggling Missouri squad.
Now on to a few takeaways from Saturday’s game:
The score likely wouldn’t have been as tight as it was in the final period if the Tigers had simply held on to the ball. But for one reason or another, they couldn’t do that Saturday, committing a whopping five turnovers; the Bears committed zero.
Despite their sloppiness with the ball, Auburn was still able to come away with a win. That might have worked Saturday. But that won’t be the case once they have to face the SEC’s best teams later this season.
Stidham starting to get dialed in
Auburn quarertback Jarrett Stidham completed 32 of his 37 attempts for 364 yards. But he didn’t toss a touchdown and threw an interception.
The 32 completions were a career-high and the second-most in a single game in Auburn history, behind only Patrick Nix’s 34 against Arkansas in 1995. His completion percentage of 86.5 was also second-best single-game effort in SEC history among quarterbacks with at least 30 attempts, trailing only Tim Tebow’s 88.6 percent (31 of 35) showing against Cincinnati in the 2009 Sugar Bowl.
Perhaps most importantly, Stidham looked locked in from the start, completing 18 straight passes from midway through the first quarter into the third.
While he went 0-fer on touchdown passes against the Bears, they will come in due time if he keeps playing at the level he did Saturday.
Defense once again saves the day
Go back to the first point. Winning a game against any team is hard when you commit five turnovers. Oftentimes that means you’re giving an opponent the ball in decent, if not great, field position. That’s when your defense needs to bail you out.
And once more, Auburn answered the bell. Just as it did in the first two games of the season — Georgia Southern and Clemson, respectively — the Tigers’ defense made life difficult for the opponent, as Mercer gained only 246 yards (146 passing, 100 rushing) of total offense.
While the offense continues to try to find its footing under Stidham and first-year coordinator Chip Lindsey, it helps to have a defense like Auburn trots out every week.
To wit: The Tigers have given up just 23 total points in three games.
That comes out to an average of 7.7 points per contest. That, my friends, is what you call “stout.”