AUBURN, Ala. — In order to progress to the Iron Bowl in Tuscaloosa, the Tigers first had to defeat the Alabama A&M Bulldogs on Saturday. Auburn seniors, playing in their final home game in Jordan-Hare Stadium, were honored as a part of the pregame festivities. Then head coach Gus Malzahn’s squad started positively.
The game was sloppier than it should have been at times, especially in the first half, but Auburn pulled its act together in the final half. Senior Jeremy Johnson and John Franklin III split quarterback responsibilities while Kerryon Johnson and freshman Kam Martin managed the Tigers’ ground game. In the end, Auburn inched to a 55-0 win against its Southwestern Conference opponent.
Auburn’s stock will rise slightly heading into its matchup against No. 1 Alabama.
- Jeremy Johnson delivered the start Auburn fans were hoping from the Montgomery, Ala., native. The senior’s first play of the game was a beautiful 18-yard completion to wide receiver Darius Slayton, and a few plays later, he rushed for his first score of the night. Before the end of the first half, Jeremy Johnson presented true freshman Kyle Davis with his second career touchdown. The 6-foot-5, 234-pound Jeremy Johnson continued his strong play in the second half, finishing with 147 passing yards (1 touchdown) and 42 rushing yards (2 touchdowns).
- With Kamryn Pettway and Stanton Truitt dressed in street clothes on the sideline, Kerryon Johnson handled backfield duties for the Tigers in the first half. Despite his injury issues this season (ankle), the sophomore looked shifty and again demonstrated his toughness on several drives. Kerryon Johnson rushed for more than 100 yards in the first half alone (108, 1 TD), leading the Tigers into the end zone on multiple drives. Martin took over in the backfield in the second half, breaking free for several explosive runs in his initial drive. Martin finished the game with 176 yards and 2 touchdowns.
- Auburn’s defense achieved its goal of recording its first shutout since the 2008 season, and the backup defensive line played tough once again.
- Stephen Roberts experienced a rough first half. The junior tried to do too much on a kickoff return and ended up fumbling. A few plays later, he was called for pass interference. Roberts did make up for his mistakes later in the game by snagging an interception, but his miscues slowed the game and it took the Tigers a little while to wake up again.
- Graduate transfer Marshall Taylor had several chances for interceptions against the Bulldogs but repeatedly came up short. Still, with senior defensive back Josh Holsey suffering a leg injury during the first half, Taylor’s game experience could be valuable if he makes an appearance in the Iron Bowl or Auburn’s bowl game.
- Junior kicker Daniel Carlson had a rare missed field goal at the end of the first half for Auburn. While it’s tough to drop Carlson’s stock at all considering how automatic he’s been, he did show he’s human with the miss from 54 yards.
- Franklin III has made an impact when he’s played this season and his explosive play continued against the Bulldogs. On his first carry of the night, Franklin rushed up the sideline for 45 yards, setting up a Carlson field goal. Then, about halfway through the third quarter, the junior college transfer rushed for a 39-yard touchdown. Franklin’s poise entering games may be, along with his speed, one of his greatest strengths.
- Buddy Davidson, a longtime Tigers fan, attended his 692nd Auburn game in Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday night. Davidson received some of the loudest applause over the course of the game.