AUBURN, Ala. — Once again, the Auburn defense carried the way for the Tigers. And much like the season opener, it wasn’t enough to make up for an underwhelming offensive showing.
The Aggies moved the ball well, but Auburn forced them into five field goals. But a back-breaking 89-yard TD run in the fourth quarter by Trayveon Williams was the clincher for A&M as Auburn (1-2, 0-1 SEC) fell to Texas A&M (3-0, 1-0 SEC) 29-16.
As a whole, Auburn’s stock will drop. Here’s a look at some parts of the whole.
- As for Auburn’s defense on third down, defensive coordinator Kevin Steele couldn’t ask for more. The Aggies were only able to muster 2 of 15 third-down attempts Saturday. Texas A&M converted its only fourth-down play, but Auburn will hang around if it remains strong on the critical third down.
- Tigers wide receiver Tony Stevens has become Sean White’s favorite target. Stevens had the most receptions for Auburn and snagged his 8 catches of 86 yards, several coming on big third-down conversions.
- Auburn running back Kamryn Pettway appeared to be the “feature” back again, earning his first start. So much for Kerryon Johnson (15-60) being the only ball carrier capable of upholding Auburn’s 1,000-yard rusher legacy. Pettway showed his ability to run as a bruiser and on the perimeter. His production went down from Week 2, but he still carried the ball 20 times for 123 yards and 1 touchdown.
- Like it or not, Auburn’s success is dependent on the play of quarterback Sean White. He didn’t have a poor performance, per se. In fact, his 18-of-27 passing was efficient enough. But there were times during his 126-yard showing that White missed easy throws — like the one to Stevens that would’ve picked up a first down with Auburn down 19-10. After his Arkansas State outing, expectations were rising, and those might need to be lowered with SEC play underway.
- With Pettway’s rise comes Kerryon Johnson’s fall. It’s not a major demise, or anything like that. Johnson still saw plenty of action, and Malzahn likely saw a mismatch presented by Pettway’s 240 pounds. Still, Johnson had his touches diminish — and he didn’t have a highlight-reel play like in Week 2 to make us forget about his lessened role.
- Stats aside, Auburn’s Carl Lawson has to start getting to the quarterback more. It was a tough task against Texas A&M quarterback Trevor Knight who can make the best pass rushers miss. But Knight had all day at times. Lawson is now sackless through his first three games, which doesn’t seem to add up to a top-10 NFL draft selection like so many projections suggest.
- Auburn kicker Daniel Carlson continued his machine-like approach. He only tried one field goal — from 37 yards — and made it. Carlson also made his only extra-point attempt of the night. So it wasn’t anything spectacular from the record-setter, but he did what he always does: make kicks.