Auburn annihilated Louisiana-Monroe 58-7 over the weekend — is there anything else that needs to be said?
Of course there is.
Homecoming weekend went exactly how is should’ve for Gus Malzahn and the Tigers, and here are my three takeaways from Saturday’s big win.
3. That was refreshing
Props to the Tigers for taking care of business against Louisiana-Monroe in front of a not-so sold out Jordan-Hare Stadium crowd. Anything less than the way they played on Saturday would’ve been a huge letdown.
Even though this was the epitome of a cupcake game, it was refreshing to see Auburn’s offense return to its high-scoring ways. For this team, outings like that have been rare. You have to appreciate these blowout wins because you never know when they’ll happen again.
As great as the touchdowns were, what impressed me the most is how the Tigers stayed aggressive throughout the game and focused on self-improvement regardless of the score. Kerryon Johnson set the tone in the first half en route to a career day, and the rest of the offense followed suit.
Sean White was sharp, John Franklin III accounted for a pair of touchdowns (more on that later), the defense forced a few turnovers and the Tigers went 4 for 5 in the red zone. Heck, Stanton Truitt and Malik Miller even saw some snaps at running back. Needless to say, it was a pretty good Homecoming weekend on the Plains.
White really needs to chill with the fumbling, but overall, I think Auburn got better and played close to a complete game on both sides of the ball.
Can the Tigers put up similar numbers against SEC competition? Probably not, but hopefully some of the momentum from this win will travel with them to Starkville next week.
2. How about those receivers
In my last post, I said that I’ve been waiting to see more production out of senior receiver Tony Stevens. He’s been in the program for too long, and has way too much talent not to make a consistent impact in the passing game.
Right on cue, Stevens played the best game of his career against the Warhawks, catching four balls for 109 yards and a score — a stat line that was long overdue. I’ve been saying for a while now that Stevens has all the tools to be Auburn’s undisputed No. 1 receiving threat. On Saturday, Stevens’ play finally backed me up.
Louisiana-Monroe’s defensive backs didn’t offer much resistance throughout the afternoon, but they did give Stevens and the rest of Auburn’s receivers a much-needed confidence boost, especially the young guys. True freshman receivers Kyle Davis, Nate Craig-Myers, Eli Stove and sophomore Ryan Davis all caught passes combining for 287 yards and a score.
Their long-term production will be dictated by who’s throwing them the football, but I think it’s fair to say that Auburn’s future at receiver is bright.
1. Quarterback controversy? Not so fast
Fumbles aside, Sean White stood behind center Saturday and ran Rhett Lashlee’s offense to perfection.
By the time Malzahn pulled White from the game in the third quarter to get John Franklin III some experience, the Tigers had a commanding 42-7 lead and I think that says a lot about White’s ability to lead the team. Franklin continues to look fantastic in relief, but White has still been consistent enough over the past two games to dismiss any whispers of a quarterback controversy.
For now, it’s without a doubt White’s team. However, the gap between him and Franklin appears to be closing quickly.
Franklin has seen mostly mop-up duty since the Clemson game, but the more he plays, the more comfortable he looks. However, he still hasn’t shown enough against a quality defense for Lashlee to trust him with the keys to the offense. Auburn may look way more explosive with Franklin in the lineup, but he’s not quite on White’s level yet — even if he did look like superman against Louisiana-Monroe.
Unless there’s an unforeseen regression in his game, White will remain the starter for the remainder of the year (for consistency’s sake). But if Franklin continues to develop at this rate, he’ll be featured in a lot more packages in 2016, and will be one heck of a player in 2017.