AU 42, USU 38: News, Notes, Quotes Part 1

News, notes and quotes from Auburn's season-opening football victory vs. Utah State are featured.

Auburn, Ala.--A tradition lives on for Tre Mason who made his Auburn debut a memorable one Saturday with a 97-yard kickoff return in the Tigers' narrow 42-38 win over the Aggies of Utah State.

The 5-10, 190-pound true freshman from Lake Worth, Fla., found a seam behind strong blocking and turned on the jets when Auburn needed it the most after the visiting Aggies has shocked Auburn with a 21-7 lead midway through the second quarter.

"I‘ve returned a kickoff for a touchdown every year since I was in the seventh grade," Mason points out. "I told my mom I would keep the tradition going."

"I told coach I was I was going to give it my all on special teams," he said. "It wasn't just me that took it to the house. We did it as a unit. Everyone did their assignment and it was wide open. The hole opened up and I was gone."

Mason said the play is the most exciting he has ever been a part of as a football player.

Tiger head man Gene Chizik wasn't surprised at Mason's performance. "One of the strengths of our team is our special teams," Chizik said. "Tre has shown an incredible amount of savvy on kickoff returns in the preseason. He was really good at it in high school.

"He has a lot of courage back there and doesn't get rattled with a lot of different things," Chizik explains. "We felt like he would have a chance to break one. Again, he has a knack for that. A lot of times at that position, that is what it takes."

News and Notes:

* Mason's 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown with 7:46 left in the first half to go with the Tigers' first quarter 56-yard touchdown strike to Emory gave Auburn two long touchdowns with only one first down at the time. That lone first down came on the pass from Trotter to Blake.

*When he took the first snap against Utah State, junior Barrett Trotter continued a tradition of new quarterbacks for Auburn in recent years. He was Auburn's fourth new starter at quarterback the past five years, following Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton from last year, Chris Todd from 2008 and Kodi Burns in 2007.

*Trotter and the Auburn offense struggled early as Utah State controlled the ball as the Tigers were able to run only 16 plays the first half. After the first quarter Trotter had completed the only two passes he attempted, the 56-yard touchdown to Blake and a seven-yard swing pass out of the backfield to Onterio McCalebb on the Tigers' first series.

Trotter was 3-for-3 in the second quarter for 25 yards, giving him 88 yards passing at the half in completing all five of his attempts.

*With the game on the line late, Trotter led the Tigers on 65-yard drive that culminated 2:07 to play on a 15-yard scoring pass to Philip Lutzenkirchen to cut Utah State's lead to 38-35. A successful onsides kick recovery by Emory Blake put the ball back in the offense's hands. Trotter converted three of four pass attempts on the drive that was capped on a one-yard plunge by Michael Dyer for the winning touchdown. Trotter finished his debut start by completing 17-of-23 passes for 261yards and three touchdowns without an interception.

*Auburn improved to 92-25-2 in season openers with the Saturday's thrilling win over Utah State. The 92 wins is only one behind Alabama for the most opening wins in SEC history. The Tide won its 93rd opener Saturday over Kent State.

*With 16 straight wins after Saturday's opener, the Tigers have the third longest win streak in school history.

*Auburn's first penalty of season that went against veteran linebacker Daren Bates on a face mask call put Utah State on Auburn's 44-yard-line in the first quarter. Two plays later Kerwynn Williams raced 43 yards untouched off left tackle for a 43-yard touchdown. On quarterback Chuckie Keeton's three-yard run on a fourth-day play for Utah State's second touchdown, Bates couldn't lock up Keeton to keep him out of the end zone. Bates finished with seven tackles, including one for a 2-yard loss.

*The first half wasn't pretty for the Tigers. In addition to the defense allowing 21 points, the offense managed to run only 16 plays, gaining a meager 30 yards on 11 rushing attempts to go with the 88 yards passing. The 16 total plays in the first half is by far the fewest in offensive coordinator Gus Malzhan's three years at Auburn. The Tigers finished with a not so impressive 364 total yards, only 78 on the ground. Auburn only ran 54 plays to the Aggies' 84, far below Malzahn's goal of 80 offensive plays a game.

*Trovon Reed's first pass reception was a beauty. While scrambling to the left, Trotter tossed to the redshirt freshman Reed who went high and came down with what appeared a toe just in bounds. The replay official ruled the play a completion good for 11 yards. Reed finished with four catches for 33 yards and returned two punts for 13 yards.

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