Just What The Doctor Ordered
It’s hard to take much from Auburn’s crushing win over ULM on Saturday, but perhaps just taking care of business was the most important accomplishment.
Wanting to improve as a team, the Tigers finished in the red zone and allowed some younger players to get some meaningful snaps, something that could be really important down the road this season.
Perhaps the biggest part of the win over the Warhawks might go unnoticed, but it shows me something about the makeup of this team. Leading 28-7 at the half and firmly in control, Auburn could have come out sluggish in the second half and allowed ULM to just hang around. I’ve seen better teams do just that and have to keep playing hard well into the fourth quarter.
On Saturday this Auburn team did just the opposite, putting an end to the game with the first three drives of the third quarter. Taking the ball to start the second half, the Tigers marched down the field and scored on a 48-yard Sean White pass to Tony Stevens. On the next drive Auburn drove 76 yards with Malik Miller cashing in from four-yards out.
John Franklin finished off the third drive on the second play with an 80-yard touchdown run to give the Tigers three touchdowns in less than 10 minutes.
That shows the willingness to do the little things and continue to focus. It may not seem like a big deal, but for a team searching for its identity that’s a big step forward and something this team can build on down the road.
“We challenged them coming out of the half to have as much energy, if not more, than when we started the game and I thought that third quarter they did,” Offensive Coordinator Rhett Lashlee said. “From that standpoint I think we got better."
On the defensive side of the ball it was about the front seven as they controlled things from start to finish with Tre Williams having a big game back at linebacker following his ejection for targeting against LSU. Auburn's defense continues to play well, holding ULM to just seven points. That makes four times this season the Tigers held the opposition to less than 20 points, more than all of last season.
White Playing Well
There is no question that speedy quarterback John Franklin can help this team in a big moment and it may come this Saturday, but right now White is playing really well for the Tigers and if the Tigers keep feeding him the ball good things will happen. Completing more than 73 percent of his passes in the last four weeks, a lot of White’s throws have been short but it hasn’t kept him from putting up one pretty impressive stat.
This season Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly is averaging 9.17 yards per pass attempt and there is no question he’s the most dangerous of the guys in the league with the ball in his hands at the moment. White is averaging 8.6 yards per attempt himself, just a half yard behind Kelly. That shows he’s making some plays when the Tigers put the ball in the air, something that could be big this weekend against Mississippi State.
Entering the game 11th in the league in pass defense, the Bulldogs are allowing 245.5 yards per game with nine touchdowns and four interceptions. That has come against a schedule of South Alabama (285), South Carolina (209), LSU (215) and UMass (273).
Of those teams USA is ranked 36th in the country in passing, UMass 90th, South Carolina 97th and LSU 116th.
Ryder Cup A Special Event
When the U.S. Team stepped to the first tee of the 41st Ryder Cup on Thursday morning they did so with Arnold Palmer’s bag from the 1975 match waiting for them. Recently passing away, you can’t help but believe Palmer would be proud of what he saw on the course from the Americans this weekend as they got the cup back for the first time since 2008.
It’s usually tough to put the Ryder Cup up with some of the memorable golfing events we see every year in the major championships, but I don’t think that will be a problem after what we witnessed this week and especially on Sunday.
From the Patrick Reed-Rory McIlroy showdown to the Phil Mickelson-Sergio Garcia birdie-fest, there was drama all over the course on the final day of singles play on Sunday. While those matches were the highlights it was great to see guys like Rickie Fowler and Brandt Snedeker and J.B. Holmes come up huge for the American squad. Showing a will to win that wasn’t going to be denied, the American team left a lasting memory and was a perfect way to finish off the year in golf.