AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn football opened its 125th season of college football with a 41-7 win over Georgia Southern on Saturday, and the night wasn’t lacking any excitement.
In fact, some of the most noteworthy news of the day broke minutes before the game even started: starting running back Kamryn Pettway, backup quarterback Sean White and wide receiver Kyle Davis were announced “unavailable” for the first game.
Head coach Gus Malzahn, when asked a direct question by a reporter earlier in the week, said that no players were suspended and he expected everyone to play in the first game.
Yet even with the absence of Pettway, the Tigers managed a dominant win over their Sun Belt opponent.
Kerryon Johnson, who was named a co-starter along with Pettway, took over until about halfway through the second quarter. That’s when Johnson, who finished with 136 yards (1 touchdown), suffered an injury that would leave him sidelined for the remainder of the evening.
Jarrett Stidham wowed in Auburn’s A Day spring game and put together a solid performance for Auburn in his first game in nearly two years. The former Baylor quarterback finished the night 14-for-24 (185 yards), adding one rushing touchdown and two scores through the air (1 interception).
Malzhan, who was weary of a tricky Georgia Southern team will be asked a lot of questions about the absence of Pettway and others as well as his team’s offensive performance.
Here’s what Malzahn said about his team’s first win of the season:
- Malzahn starts off with a nod to Auburn great Jackie Burkett.
- Malzahn said Auburn held out Kam Pettway, Sean White and Kyle Davis and that’s “between them and me.”
- Pettway and Davis will be back next week, White will be back Week 3 when Auburn takes on Mercer.
- On Jarrett Stidham: “It was very good for Jarrett to get a game under his belt.”
- Auburn played around 9 true freshmen and Malzahn says “it’s going to do nothing but help us with depth moving forward.”
- Malzahn said Kam Martin stepped up and losing Kerryon Johnson was a “tough blow.” “We’ll see what his case is later.”
- On Jarrett Stidham: “I thought he did a good job at times…I thought it was good for him to get out there and he managed the game well.”
- Malzahn said his team scored 41 points when asked if his offense was “vanilla” tonight.
- “Chip’s got a lot of new wrinkles, crossing routes were a part of that. I think Chip did a solid job.”
- On Will Hastings: “He’s in the mix, he’s one of our guys. Jarrett’s got a comfort with him.”
- On Jeff Holland: “I thought he did a super job. He’s been a guy who’s been coming along and he’s really taken ownership of that position.”
- On Tre’ Williams: (inaudible noise) “He’s a guy our staff was talking about the other day…” Everyone is really pleased with the senior linebacker, who’s “playing at a different level.”
- Malzahn repeats suspensions are “between me and the team.”