Sean White (above) threw three touchdown passes in game two.
White Takes Control
He’s not the most athletic or blessed with the strongest arm, but Sean White is a competitor with really good instincts at the quarterback position and for the Auburn Tigers he is right the right guy to play right now. Playing consistently good defense to open the season for the first time since 2008, Auburn shouldn’t have to score 45 points to win games this year and White gives the Tigers exactly what this team needs at that spot.
The first thing he provides is the ability to consistently throw the ball from the pocket, something that this team needs without the benefit of a true dual-threat quarterback. On Saturday against Arkansas State he showed the ability to make plays with his legs if needed, but he is never going to be a huge threat running the football. Because of that his ability to throw the ball and spread it around serves as another offensive weapon to add to the duo of Kerryon Johnson and Kamryn Pettway.
That is something that Gus Malzahn and Rhett Lashlee need to remember moving forward because White and this Auburn offense is at its best when he is mixing in the passing game on early downs and also stretching the field. With every pass attempt against the Red Wolves it forced the linebackers and safeties to take a step back, giving the Tigers more room to run the football.
This weekend Auburn will face one of the best pass rush teams in the country and the tendency will be to play it close to the vest again like last season’s win in College Station, but this is a different team and a different year. This offense has to force the action with White pushing the ball down the field. If the Tigers continue to do that I predict good things moving forward for this team.
The Future At The Linebacker Position
While DeShaun Davis has been one of the surprise standouts for the defense and has his place with the Tigers, watching sophomores Darrell Williams and Montavious Atkinson cover ground from sideline to sideline gives you a glimpse of the future of the position with Coach Travis Williams in charge of things.
Always capable of covering from his days at Hoover, Darrell Williams has been physical at the point of attack while showcasing his ability to play on the edge. At no time was that more apparent than on third and five early in the third quarter. Challenged with covering speedy Cameron Echols-Luper, the sophomore closed down on him as he caught the ball and tackled him a yard short of the first down. It was a play that showed his skill set and the advantage he can bring to the defense down the road.
The same is true of Atkinson. Gaining almost 30 pounds since he arrived on campus last summer, the former safety/wide receiver at Langston Hughes (Ga.) High has transitioned nicely to his role as a linebacker. Throughout the preseason he was one of the most productive players on the defense and he has continued that in the first two games.
While Davis and Tre Williams will continue to play their roles, don’t be surprised to see even more of Darrell Williams and Atkinson down the road as Auburn faces teams such as Texas A&M, Mississippi State and Ole Miss that want to spread you out to create mismatches.
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Around The SEC
This Auburn team still has a long way to go after just two games, but the Tigers are not the only team in the league that is in the same boat. While teams such as Arkansas and Georgia have impressive wins under their belts, both have also been very fortunate to not have huge upset losses on their home fields as well.
With LSU and Ole Miss both showing signs of strength and weakness in their first two outings and Mississippi State falling at home to South Alabama, the division has some winnable games for the Tigers if they play up to their potential.
That starts this weekend against a Texas A&M team that has a ton of talent, but like most of the teams in the league the Aggies have been up and down as well. They were taken to overtime in week one by UCLA at home before roughing up Prairie View on Saturday. That same UCLA team needed two long fourth quarter drives to break open a close game against UNLV on Saturday.
Even Alabama showed on Saturday that it has question marks when it comes to running the football. Lining up in the shotgun over and over again, Alabama’s offense struggled to consistently run the football against former Auburn defensive line coach Don Dunn’s group at Western Kentucky.
Saturday is a real test for Malzahn’s Tigers, but this team has the talent to make noise in the SEC race before all is said and done. We’ll see if they’ve got what it takes to get the job done.