AUBURN, Ala. — Gus Malzahn won his 30th game on homecoming in a dominant way. The Tigers smothered Louisiana-Monroe from the opening kickoff and showed the work they put into their offense in the week leading up to the non-conference matchup.
Here are seven observations from Auburn’s win against the Warhawks:
7. Overmatched Sun Belt foes
Auburn’s second matchup against a Sun Belt team was even easier than the first. The Tigers dominated from the opening kickoff against ULM. Coupled with its win against Arkansas State in Week 2, Auburn outscored its two Sun Belt opponents, 109-21. Auburn has a history of playing down to its opponent, but it stayed away from that trend this season. As good as Auburn was, ULM wasn’t competing — the Warhawks were trying to survive.
6. Defense dictates everything for Auburn
The heart and soul of Malzahn’s team is his defense. There is talent and depth at every position. Rarely do you find players relaxed or letting up — they’re even vocal and involved from the sideline. In pregame warmups, the defensive players are loose — dancing and playing off each other — and focused. Kevin Steele’s players take the same approach during games, and as a result, they are a blast to watch. It’s tough to imagine the defense improving, yet with each game it finds ways.
5. Sean White settling in
White finally got the chance to find his rhythm and he’s showing why he was Malzahn’s choice as the starter to begin the season. Against the Warhawks, White surpassed the 2,000-yard passing mark for his career and scored his first career rushing touchdown. The only thing more impressive than his 14 of 17 passing, 239-yard performance was his toughness. White dove between two defenders on his TD run and took other hard hits. He never appeared rattled. Instead, he looked comfortable.
4. Senior stepping up
Don’t get in Montravius Adams’ way. The senior defensive lineman tormented ULM quarterback Garrett Smith, adding another sack and a blocked field goal to his season stat line. Malzahn said Adams is playing his best football — and that’s not up for debate. He makes an impact on nearly every play.
3. John Franklin III electrifies
Fans have seen glimpses of John Franklin III this season, but they finally witnessed what has caused all of the hype around the junior college transfer. Franklin was in the game all of 30 seconds before he broke free for an 80-yard touchdown run. He also added a dazzling 39-yard TD pass to Nate Craig-Myers, showcasing his improved passing. Franklin looks confident when he’s on the field. He’s ready to go and looking for openings to make plays. It will be hard for offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee to keep him off the field if he keeps having moments like Saturday.
2. LB Tre Williams rebounds
Junior Tre Williams is a leader among the linebackers and played like it against ULM. After being ejected in the first half of Auburn’s win against LSU last week, Williams recorded a team-high 9 tackles, including a tackle for loss. Even more striking than his hits is the energy he brings to the defense. He’s vocal and positive with teammates and gives the defense a spark whether it needs one or not.
1. Reaching goals
Explosive plays. Turnovers. Offensive continuity. Red-zone scores. These were just some of the goals for Auburn in its non-conference game against ULM, and Auburn was able to check all of the boxes. Now, Auburn travels to Mississippi State for the first away game of 2016. The Tigers have to execute and prove they can keep reaching goals in a chaotic and loud atmosphere in Starkville.