AUBURN, Ala. — As expected, the battle of the Tigers was a back-and forth, physical matchup. Auburn showed show improvement on offense, but in the end, the special teams and defense boosted Auburn to its first home win in its last six SEC games.
Auburn’s defense was determined to come out and show that last year’s embarrassing performance at Baton Rouge was a fluke. From the opening kickoff, the home Tigers were dynamic once again. Junior linebacker Tre Williams was ejected for targeting in the second quarter and the defense responded in his absence. Auburn held LSU to 13 points and, overall, managed to contain the visiting Tigers’ talented backfield.
As a whole, Auburn’s stock will rise. Here are some reasons why:
- Kevin Steele’s defense remains the team’s biggest strength, without question. The unit walked onto the field inspired by memories of its 2015 trip to LSU and managed to accomplish its No. 1 goal of containing Leonard Fournette and his talented backup, Derrius Guice. Auburn also kept Danny Etling in check.
- At the beginning of the season doubts existed about running back Kerryon Johnson. The sophomore was unproven and questions existed about whether the 6-foot back could withstand the physicality of SEC play. The LSU game was a perfect test and Johnson passed. His stats total don’t depict how physical and bruising he really was. Johnson pummeled LSU defenders and energized Auburn’s offense at several points.
- Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee called plays for Auburn and the improvement was significant. In the Tigers’ SEC opener against Texas A&M, the average third-down distance was close to 9.5 yards. Against LSU, Auburn took more chances in the air and shortened its average third-down distance to around 5 yards.
- Wide receiver Tony Stevens had several opportunities for big plays in this game and couldn’t pull in the necessary grabs. After emerging as a consistent option over the last two games, the senior didn’t quite keep pace.
- Special teams and kickers were key coming into this matchup and luckily, Auburn has Daniel Carlson. The junior kicker was automatic, nailing 6 field goals and providing Auburn all 18 points on the night. Auburn’s offensive struggles have only added more pressure to Carlson and he’s handling the responsibility with ease.