Another Impressive Auburn Win
Going into Saturday’s game it was one that I expected to be a dogfight because of Chad Kelly and the Ole Miss offense, and that’s exactly what it was. Talking to Auburn's defensive coordinator Kevin Steele before the game he said what makes you wary is that most of the time you’re worried about a sharpshooter on the other side at quarterback, but Kelly is like a guy with a machine gun. That was an apt description of what we saw Saturday night in Oxford, but this Auburn team didn’t let the early momentum and success for the Rebels phase them.
The first part of that was the offense continuing to do its thing and play winning football. Auburn once again controlled the line of scrimmage and allowed Kamryn Pettway to put up big rushing numbers. Sean White chipped in with key throws down the field and also a couple good plays with his legs to keep things rolling along, allowing the defense time to make the adjustments.
Making small adjustments on the fly is something that is done throughout a game, but to make wholesale changes usually takes time. That’s what happened on Saturday when Auburn switched schemes up front in the second half, giving the Tigers the edge to get more pressure on Kelly. Combine that with tighter coverage in the secondary and you have the reason Auburn held Ole Miss to just seven second half points.
Now the Tigers return home for an 11 a.m. kickoff against Vanderbilt. There is no question it’s the worst possible kickoff time for a home game, but this is one that the fans owe to the team to show up and be loud from start to finish. The Tigers didn’t panic after a slow start and stayed the course. With five consecutive wins and still a shot to play for a trip to Atlanta and the SEC Championship, there’s no reason why Jordan-Hare Stadium shouldn’t be full throttle from the opening kickoff.
Youth Is Served
With Tony Stevens not playing at Ole Miss to with sore ribs, Auburn’s offense at the skill positions was one of the youngest I can remember being on the field for the Tigers in an SEC game. Consider that Sean White, Kerryon Johnson, Kamryn Pettway, Stanton Truitt, Ryan Davis, Chandler Cox and Jalen Harris are all sophomores. Darius Slayton is a redshirt freshman and Kyle Davis, Nate Craig, Kameron Martin and Eli Stove are all true freshmen and you have the makings of some fun times for Auburn’s offense in the future.
This season freshmen and sophomores have combined for 3,682 of Auburn’s 4,061 yards of total offense (90.79 percent) and 33 of the 47 explosive plays for the Tigers through eight games.
Jeff Holland Stepping Up
Another sophomore who is starting to become more consistent for the defense is pass rusher Jeff Holland. Adding his second sack of the year on Saturday night against Ole Miss, Holland has five quarterback pressures and is beginning to show signs of consistency.
If he can continue to come on and provide a serious speed rush on third downs it would be another big step for the Tigers. With freshman Marlon Davidson and sophomore Andrew Williams both with two and a half sacks as well, Auburn’s ability to get to the quarterback from younger players is always a bonus when thinking about the future.
Britt The Next Piece Of The Linebacker Puzzle?
Coach Travis Williams already has commitments from explosive linebackers Tadarian Moultry and Chandler Wooten, but on Monday he could add another important class of 2017 verbal commitment when Oxford High standout K.J. Britt announces his college destination. A powerful inside linebacker who is a future leader of a defense, Britt has all the intangibles to be an early contributor after graduating in December and going through spring practice wherever he winds up.
Auburn is considered the team to beat for the 6-0, 232-pounder with Georgia, Ole Miss and Stanford also in the running, and if Britt picks the Tigers it’s another step towards keeping the defense playing among the best in the Southeastern Conference for Steele and company.