Auburn’s win in Oxford was a big one for this season because it keeps the hopes and dreams alive for the Tigers. The way the team won it was special because the Tigers came from behind time and time again, and they never flinched.
Auburn stayed the course and kept playing hard on defense and kept playing hard on offense. There was no sign of panic when things didn’t go as well as hoped. Combine that with the team making adjustments at halftime that proved to be effective, and it was a good all-around road win in the SEC vs. a very dangerous opponent.
Holding that Ole Miss offense to just seven points in the second half is impressive to me, especially considering Auburn’s defensive players were on the field for 98 snaps (including penalty plays) on Saturday night against a quarterback who was playing exceptionally well.
Give Ole Miss credit for playing very fast on offense, probably faster than Auburn expected. I believe that really helped the Rebels have a lot of success throwing the football, but despite all of the yards the Tigers allowed they came up big in the second half with the goal line stand in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter there were the defensive stops, including the key interception and return by Josh Holsey, an no points allowed.
Offensively, the Tigers did a good job of controlling the football. They only punted twice and Sean White continues to perform well at quarterback. Something that is exciting for this team is that the offense is playing pretty darn good right now, but I really think the potential is there to play better.
I also think Rhett Lashlee is doing a fantastic job calling plays and I think the possibilities are there to really stretch the field vertically with the long passing game as opponents become more and more concerned about containing Auburn’s running backs.
Auburn is doing a really good job of making first downs and keeping the ball away from their opponents by running the football, but there is going to come a time when the Tigers are going to need to hit some big plays in the passing game. This offense has the speed and talent to do it, especially with the way opponents are having to expose themselves in the secondary to the deep ball.
It is exciting to see how far the Tigers have come this season as a team. I think Gus Malzahn’s group will benefit from the experience at Ole Miss, even though the defense gave up a lot of yards to Chad Kelly, who had a great night throwing the ball. I don’t believe the Tigers will face a better passer this year, or a better group of receivers, so knowing they were able to find a way to contain that group in the second half should be a confidence builder.
The challenge this week is getting regrouped after an emotional road victory and preparing to play a Vanderbilt team that has had an extra week to get healed up and refreshed. It is going to be highly important how Auburn’s coaches and players approach this week’s game. The game in Oxford was the type of contest that can take a lot out of a football team physically and emotionally so it will be important to be as fresh as possible when Vanderbilt arrives in town on Saturday at 11 o’clock.
The Commodores are a dangerous team because they can play defense and I promise you they will give Auburn’s offense more problems than the Tigers faced in their previous two wins vs. Ole Miss and Arkansas.