AUBURN, Ala. — When Vanderbilt walks into Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday morning, it will be fielding a tough SEC defense. Vanderbilt has size, speed and a mix of young and experienced players.
Meanwhile, Auburn’s offense has been improving each week, largely thanks to Kamryn Pettway’s efforts on the ground and Sean White’s efficiency through the air. There’s no question the Tigers defense will be able to come out pressuring Vandy quarterback Kyle Shurmur, but it’s going to be critical that offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee’s offense gets going early.
Redshirt freshman WR Darius Slayton
Slayton wasn’t responsible for many explosive plays in the Ole Miss game, but he brings an important quality to the Auburn offense: consistency. Lashlee describes Slayton as dependable and steady — something White will be looking for against a good Commodores defense.
Slayton isn’t always the first option or even an option at all, but when he is targeted, he’s efficient. The 6-foot-2 Slayton also adds size to the Auburn wide receiving group, which will be helpful against a lengthy Vanderbilt defense.
Sophomore RB Stanton Truitt
Truitt may have been the Auburn player who got the most out of the bye week. The sophomore made the switch from receiver to running back, and it resulted in a career game (123 total yards of offense, 3 TDs against Arkansas). Truitt faded into the background during the Ole Miss game, rushing three times for 13 yards and catching one 25-yard pass from Sean White.
Lashlee has said he’d like to keep finding ways to get Truitt involved. While Pettway has the bruiser role covered and Kerryon Johnson brings a more athletic style, Truitt’s change of pace could catch Vanderbilt’s defense off guard. The Atlanta native is also a coach’s kid from a football family. He can handle playing several different roles in different plays throughout a game, giving the offense more versatility.
Sophomore TE Jalen Harris
Auburn fans could be seeing a little bit more of Harris in the near future. The sophomore scored his first career touchdown on his first catch of the year on a trick play against Ole Miss. It turns out the Auburn offense has been practicing the play, called “Fight Song,” for more than two months.
Earlier in the year, White touched on the Montgomery native’s progression since first arriving at Auburn, saying, “I definitely trust Jalen. He’s a young kid, but he’s grown up so much since he first got here. He’s blocking so much better. That’s always the toughest thing for a young tight end is to be able to be physical enough to block and handle those SEC defensive linemen. I think he’s been able to do that, and he’s going to contribute even more as the season goes along.”
Lashlee has been showing creative looks in recent games and implied there were more trick plays in his arsenal. The coaching staff and White have been pleased with Harris this season, and though White’s pass to Harris was the first time the Tigers incorporated that position into a score since 2014, the 6-foot-4, 259 pound Harris does give the Auburn offense more options.