Auburn, Ala.--Confidence is such an important part of sports and for two seasons it’s something the Auburn Tigers have been searching for on the gridiron. Winning back-to-back games for just the third time in the last 18 games, Auburn will look to win three straight this week against the Mississippi State Bulldogs on the road in Starkville.
Coming off wins over LSU and ULM, the Tigers are continuing to pick up their play on both sides of the ball. While the defense has continued to put up solid outings, AU's offense has been trying to become more consistent since the season-opening loss to Clemson.
Scoring 58 points with 36 first downs and piling up 688 yards of total offense last Saturday, Auburn is now averaging 31.2 points per game and 488.6 yards. While the Tigers have still got to show they can do that against top-flight competition, junior offensive lineman Austin Golson noted that the players are definitely feeling better about themselves after a couple of wins.
“It’s great,” Golson said. “We have a lot of momentum. I just feel this team has got something great in store. I can’t wait to see what happens next.”
A lot of that has been because of the improvement on offense and a good reason for that has been the running of Kerryon Johnson. Now third in the SEC in rushing and at the center of the Tigers’ attack, Johnson said he likes where this team is as the Tigers get ready to head to Starkville.
“I think we’re in a fantastic spot,” the sophomore said. “You come off playing the three or five team in the country to three points and have a close game with Texas A&M, I think we’re in a fantastic spot. We just have to get better every week no matter who the opponent is and we’ve got to keep improving.”
Gus Malzahn said having Sean White make strides at quarterback has been a big plus for the Tigers. "I think each week you've seen him develo," Auburn's head coach said. "His completion percentage gets better each game. He's been better throwing the football and I think you've seen him get more comfortable. Our players around him are getting more and more confident with him too. We're starting to settle in to who we are on offense."
This week the opponent is a Mississippi State team that has dealt Auburn fits in Davis-Wade Stadium recently with wins in both 2012 and 2014 over the Tigers. With plenty of talent and a dual-threat quarterback to deal with on offense, linebacker DeShaun Davis said it will be another tough SEC game but this team is feeling good at the moment.
“Our confidence is really really high right now beating a really good LSU team coming off a heartbreaking loss to Texas A&M,” Davis said. “This week the offense put up a lot of points and defense held a ULM team to seven points, could’ve been a shutout. Going into the road part of the schedule, it was really important to get those two wins going into a tough Mississippi State environment.”