Ryan Davis (above) had an increased role in game three.
Auburn, Ala.--On a hot and humid night on the Plains the Auburn Tigers' offense wilted when heat was applied by the Texas A&M?Aggies as Coach Gus Malzahn’s team suffered a disappointing 29-16 loss in its SEC opener on Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
After seemingly finding its groove against the Arkansas Red Wolves last weekend tallying up more than 700 yards, the offense found itself back in a pit of despair for most of the game Saturday night.
The second drive of the game was impressive for Auburn and resulted in a one-yard touchdown run for Kamryn Pettway, the first of his career. In the first half Malzahn’s unit moved the ball decently between the 20’s only being outgained by A&M 253-200.
However, the Tigers were only able to muster 35 yards of total offense in the third quarter before replacing starting quarterback Sean White with backup QB John Franklin III on the first drive of the fourth quarter.
Malzahn said the reasoning behind pulling White was to give the offense “a shot in the arm” and also noted that it wasn’t just White that struggled against the Aggie defense mentioning dropped passes by the wide receivers.
Two wideouts did have career nights, nevertheless--senior Tony Stevens and sophomore Ryan Davis. Stevens made eight catches for 86 yards while Davis added five receptions for 36 yards.
“It was fun,” said Davis of the opportunity to have an increased role in the offense and get more touches. “I haven’t had a lot of touches so it was a good experience for me to really get my feet wet and see how I could compete in the SEC. (It’s good) to see all of the work Coach (Kodi) Burns put in working with me in the offseason paying off right now.”
Tony Stevens is shown in action vs. the Aggies.
Stevens was a little less enthused about his individual performance instead wishing that the team could have pulled out a win.
“It’s bittersweet,” said Stevens of having a career night in the same game as a loss, “because at the end of the day we always want to win. I don’t care about the catches, the yards. I just want to win.”
Davis was asked if there was any point of contention in the locker room and he pointed out that the players are “disappointed” but still together and that there is no division between the offense and defense.
“This is a brotherhood here at Auburn,” Davis said. “You’ve got to pick brothers up and that’s what I do. It’s just the way the game went. When (the defense) is going out there and playing lights out and (the offense) is not capitalizing when they are giving you opportunity after opportunity, it’s like, ‘We need to play for them.’ Sometimes things just don’t go your way.”
Neither receiver really could explain what went wrong for the offense after the touchdown drive in the first quarter, but both Stevens and Davis know that expectations are high and things have to change.
Both quarterbacks played well, according to the receivers, and Davis did agree with his head coach that Franklin III was able to provide a spark in the fourth quarter.
“He came in to run the ball and create big plays,” Davis said. “We already knew what John could do. I’m already impressed (by him), but I see it all the time in practice. He always makes big plays like that. Obviously, he’s a speedster. That’s just what he does.
“(As a receiver) you’ve just got to be ready. If he does scramble you’ve got to get open because you know he’s going to roll out and make a big play.”
No matter what the offense did or didn’t do vs. Texas A&M, the message from Stevens and his teammates on the offensive woes was simple and direct: “We’ve just got to execute,” the senior said. “We have to go out there and do our jobs better and we’ll come out with a W.”