Rapid reaction: Auburn conquers Texas A&M behind Jeremy Johnson
Here are some quick thoughts on Auburn’s surprising 26-10 win over Texas A&M on Saturday:
What it means: Texas A&M was just about to recover from its mid-season slide when Auburn showed up. Unfortunately for the Aggies, it wasn’t the Auburn team that we’ve seen for most of the season. Auburn resembled the team everyone expected after all the preseason hype and Texas A&M was not up to the challenge.
What I liked: Tiger fans shouldn’t have worried that Jeremy Johnson was back in the game, because Gus Malzahn finally knew how to utilize him effectively. Knowing that Johnson would face Myles Garrett and the A&M pass rush, quick screen passes, handoffs and running on the perimeter was a successful strategy. When the Auburn offense was uptempo, balanced and involved a large mix of different offensive weapons, it suddenly looked like the offense we expected at the beginning of the 2015 season.
What I didn’t like: While stopping Auburn’s running attack was a struggle for the Texas A&M defense all night – except for in the red zone – the true disaster was Kyler Murray’s three interceptions, most of which were a result of poor decision-making. With two interceptions coming near the end zone, Aggies fans have to wonder if they would be celebrating a victory if those interceptions had instead been completions.
Who’s the man: Auburn running back Jovon Robinson broke 100 yards rushing before the first half was even over. After Murray’s first interception, Robinson exploded for a 45-yard run and he never looked back. He carried the ball 27 times and ended the evening with 159 yards.
Key play: During Texas A&M’s first possession of the second half, Murray and the offense were feeling the pressure to respond to Auburn with some points. However, on a third-and-3, Murray’s pass intended for Christian Kirk was intercepted by Auburn’s Blake Countess.
What’s next: After its best game of the season, Auburn is back on track towards becoming bowl eligible. The Tigers travel home to face Georgia next week. Texas A&M gets a break in conference play next Saturday when they welcome Western Carolina to College Station. However, the Aggies will be concerned with the status of Murray, who took a heavy hit towards the end of the third quarter and left the game.