Byron Cowart (above) had plenty of reasons to enjoy the victory over Arkansas.
The 6-3, 276-pound product of Armwood High in Seffner, Fla., barely made a dent as a true freshman last year and is playing behind true freshman Marlon Davidson this year.
After six games he had recorded three solo tackles, one assist and forced a fumble. Still not very impressive numbers, but he has been part of a deep and talented defensive line that has been a key to Auburn’s impressive defensive showing in the Tigers 5-2 start.
When Auburn destroyed Arkansas 56-3 on Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium, the Hogs managed only 215 yards total offense with only 25 coming on the ground. Cowart seemed to show some spark in totaling two solo tackles, including one for a loss of two yards.
“The impressive win felt good and I felt good,” Cowart said. “I’m just trusting in the process, trusting in the coaches and trying to get better. I feel like the light’s finally coming on for me, but I’ve got to get better. When you put the work in in practice, it will reflect on the field.”
Cowart realizes his production was very limited his freshman year. “Last year, it was a matter of me getting confidence in the system,” he explained. “This year, I know what they expect of me. I just have to execute better. That comes from working hard and trusting my coaches.”
Cowart says the offensive and defensive lines feed off each other. “It’s momentum. I’m starting to learn myself how big momentum is, and it’s crazy because you feel it. When the offensive is rolling and the defense is rolling, we’re picking each other up.
“We are trying to keep our eyes on the prize, stay focused and take it one game at a time, but this is a big game and big win.”
In other news and notes:
*Auburn’s 543 rushing yards set a record for any SEC regular-season game (previous high: Arkansas vs. South Carolina in 2007, 542 yards). Auburn also holds the record for any SEC vs. SEC matchup with 545 yards vs. Missouri in the 2013 SEC Championship Game. The previous Auburn single-game SEC rushing record was 2013 at Tennessee (444 yards).
*The 53-point win was the largest margin of victory against a ranked opponent in Auburn history. It was also the largest margin by either team in the series with Arkansas (previous: 24 in 2014) and the second-largest in Auburn history against an SEC opponent (record: 56-0 over Mississippi State in 1970).
*The last time Auburn beat an SEC opponent by at least 50 points was 1990 vs. Vanderbilt (56-6).
*Auburn held Arkansas to 25 rushing yards, the fewest by an Auburn opponent in SEC play since 2003, when Tennessee rushed for 4 yards in a 28-21 Auburn win.
*Under Gus Malzahn, Auburn is 6-0 in regular-season games coming off a bye week. The previous wins were vs. Ole Miss (2013), Alabama (2013), at Kansas State (2014), vs. South Carolina (2014), at Kentucky (2015).
*In the last three games Auburn has outscored its opponents in the first half 91-10 (28-7 vs. ULM; 35-0 at Mississippi State, 28-3 vs. Arkansas). Over the last 12 quarters, Auburn has outscored its opponents 157-24.
*The last time Auburn did not allow a touchdown in an SEC game was against Florida in 2011.
*Auburn has held 6 of 7 opponents in 2016 under 20 points and 7 of 8 dating back to the 2015 Birmingham Bowl vs. Memphis.
*Auburn’s 91-yard scoring drive in the first quarter was its longest of the season.
*The Tigers’ 183 rushing yards in the first quarter were Auburn’s most in any single quarter since the 2013 SEC Championship Game when Auburn had 212 in the third quarter.
*Auburn’s 21-0 lead at the end of the first quarter was its largest first-quarter lead against an SEC opponent since 2005, when the Tigers led Alabama 21-0.
*Over the last three games Auburn has outscored its opponent in the first quarter 49-0.
*This is the second time this year that at least four different Auburn players have scored a rushing touchdown (last time vs. ULM). The last time at least four different players scored a rushing touchdown against an SEC opponent was the 2013 SEC Championship Game vs. Missouri (Tre Mason, Cameron Artis-Payne, Nick Marshall, Corey Grant).
*Freshman Eli Stove, making his first career start, had a 78-yard touchdown run on Auburn’s first offensive play of the game. It was the fourth carry of his career.
*Stove’s TD run tied for the 16th-longest in Auburn history and the third-longest by a freshman. It was the first time Auburn scored on its first offensive play of a game since Carnell Williams had an 80-yard run vs. Alabama in 2003.
*Sophomore quarterback Sean White finished with a career-high 61 rushing yards and scored his second career rushing touchdown in the third quarter, a 1-yard run. White’s 41-yard run in the first quarter was a career-long (previous: 31 vs. Mississippi State).
*Sophomore running back Kamryn Pettway finished with a career-high 192 rushing yards (previous: 169 vs. Mississippi State) and two touchdowns. Pettway now has six touchdowns for his career, five coming in the last two games (3 at MSU and two against Arkansas). Pettway has topped the 100-yard mark four times in six games played this season.
*Wide receiver Stanton Truitt scored the first two touchdowns of his career tonight. His first came on a 20-yard run in the first quarter. He later scored on a 45-yard reception in the second quarter for his longest career reception (his previous was 13 yards at LSU, 2015). In the fourth quarter he scored on a 31-yard run.