The Auburn offense continued to struggle finding the end zone against FCS opponent Mercer. The Tigers gained 510 yards on offense compared to the 246 of Mercer, but found themselves in a one-possession game in the fourth quarter.
Auburn had multiple drives that got to the red zone, but turnovers plagued the offense. With four fumbles and an interception, offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey’s offense was only able to put 24 points on the board.
One bright spot on the offense, however, was quarterback Jarrett Stidham. The junior completed 32 of his 37 passes with one interception. He also had seven carries for 23 yards to go with his 86.4 percent completion rate.
“We were able to spread it out pretty well today,” Stidham said.
Nine different receivers caught passes from Stidham. Kamryn Pettway, who had only caught two passes his entire college career, had three receptions.
“If it’s third and ten and they drop eight, the check down is usually open," Stidham said of Pettway. "He was alert for that. One of the main things for us for this game was execution and tempo."
On the first drive of the game, Auburn moved the ball down the field quickly before a fumble turned it over.
“That first drive, that’s definitely the Auburn tempo we want to have,” Stidham said. “We moved the ball really well. It kind of puts a damper on things when you turn the ball over five times.”
Stidham did not put the blame of the interception on either him or the intended receiver, Nate Craig-Myers.
“It’s not his fault, not my fault. I mean, it’s both of us, so we’ve just got to look at it,” Stidham said. “The read I had, I made the right decision to throw it. I’ve just got to place it a little bit better.”
Offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey moved from the sidelines to the upstairs booth after the lackluster offensive performance against Clemson.
“It really wasn’t much different. They always communicate all the time,” Stidham said of Lindsey and Malzahn. The quarterback also noted that Lindsey had coached from upstairs at Arizona State.
Stidham showed confidence in the defense, which has now held opponents to an average of 10.3 points per game.
“They're playing lights out,” Stidham said. “They're truly a great defense, and I know offensively we just want to help them a little bit more.”
The defense has definitely been the strong suit of Auburn’s team this season, while the offense has struggled in all of its games. Auburn will now look ahead to its first SEC opponent as the team travels to Columbia, Missouri.
Stidham said he is excited about the upcoming stretch of SEC games, with four straight games against Missouri, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and LSU.
“Offensively, defensively, special teams, we’re really excited about this stretch we’re about to get into,” Stidham said.
Auburn will look for its first SEC win against the Missouri Tigers, who have started the season at 1-2 with losses to South Carolina and Purdue. The two Tiger teams will kick off Saturday at 6:30 p.m. CT on ESPNU.