Auburn came out sleeping against Louisiana-Monroe Saturday. The Tigers may have been on a high after their big win over Georgia, or maybe they were looking ahead the next week’s Iron Bowl. Either way, Auburn got it together in the second half and walked away with its fifth 40-point performance at home this season in a 42-14 victory.
Below are grades of Auburn’s units on Saturday.
Looking at the numbers, Stidham performed well on Saturday. Per usual, his completion rate was high going 18-24 passing. He threw for 235 yards and two touchdowns as well, including a 50-yard touchdown pass to Darius Slayton before halftime.
The only thing that hurt Stidham on Saturday was turnovers. He broke one of the biggest quarterback rules by turning back and trying to throw across the field, which led to an easy interception for ULM. He also lost control of a snap from under center, for the second week in a row, only this time the opposing defense fell on the ball.
His passing efforts were great, other than the one interception. Stidham will need to keep control of the ball if he plans on putting points up against Alabama’s defense.
Running Backs: A+
After a huge rushing performance against Georgia, the Tigers didn’t slow down at all this week.
Kerryon Johnson carried the load once again, with 22 carries for 137 yards and a touchdown. He showed impressive patience, sitting back behind the line for a couple seconds until he found a hole to run through. Commentators continue to compare him to Le’Veon Bell, and Johnson gives more reason for those comparisons each week.
Backup running back Kam Martin got more carries toward the end of Saturdays game and did the most with them. Martin had 12 carries for 38 yards and found the end zone for his second touchdown of the season.
True freshman quarterback Malik Willis also got some yards on the ground late in the fourth quarter, taking one of his two carries for 62 yards.
Wide Receivers: A
Once again, a number of wide receivers got the ball Saturday. Ryan Davis led the team in catches for the fourth game in a row, with six receptions for 48 yards.
Darius Slayton continued his role as Stidham’s primary deep threat, with four catches for 89 yards and a 50-yard touchdown. There was one deep ball in the first half where Slayton could have made more of an effort at getting his feet in bounds, but the deep touchdown catch made up for it.
Running back Kam Martin also had a 41-yard touchdown reception.
Offensive Line: A
Proven by Auburn’s 317 rushing yards, the offensive line continued to open up holes for the running backs. The line also did a good job of protecting Stidham, who had plenty of time to throw for the most part and was never sacked.
There was some shifting along the offensive line with players lining up in different positions, but that is something this team has grown accustomed to throughout the year.
One of the biggest concerns for the Tigers during this week of practice will be keeping the offensive line healthy. If they are, then Auburn should be able to run efficiently against a depleted Alabama defense.
Defensive Line/Linebackers: A+
Another week, another unbelievably impressive showing by the defense against the run. Against Georgia, this group held one of the best running teams in the country to a total of 46 yards. This week, the Tigers held ULM to 116 rushing yards, but that came on 41 carries. That’s 2.8 yards per carry.
This unit will be going up against a strong rushing attack in Alabama next week, and containing Jalen Hurts on the ground will be a new challenge. If the Auburn defense continues to shut down the run, it will give the Tigers a good chance when the number one team comes to town.
Defensive Backs: A
It wasn’t the most impressive showing by Auburn’s secondary, but they got the job done. Against Louisiana-Monroe’s starting quarterback, this group was actually very impressive. Caleb Evans went 9-25 for only 86 yards, averaging less than four yards per attempt.
When backup Garrett Smith came in, the secondary seemed to struggle a bit more. Smith went 7-11 for 131 yards and a touchdown. However, the Tigers were able to pick Smith off twice, one of which went back for a touchdown.
Against Alabama, the game plan will likely be to stop the run and force Hurts to throw the ball, similar to the plan against Alabama. If this unit can keep the Tide’s receivers locked down, it could be a long day for Hurts.
Special Teams: B-
Daniel Carlson never had any field goal opportunities, but mad all of his extra point attempts.
Punter Aidan Marshall continued to struggle finding distance, averaging only 33.5 yards per punt. He did have one go for 49 yards, but he has struggled to find any consistency in his punting game.
Daniel Carlson was able to kick the ball through the end zone on kickoffs again this week, something he wasn’t able to do for most of the Georgia game.