After a slow start against Louisiana-Monroe, the Auburn Tigers found their stride in the second half and walked away with a 42-14 win.
Kerryon Johnson continued to impress with a 137-yard performance and one touchdown. He also added three catches for 14 yards.
Auburn struggled to find any points in the first half of the game, only scoring one touchdown in the first 28 minutes. Johnson said it was difficult for the players to be excited about a game against ULM when it’s right between the two biggest games of the season.
“It was hard and we definitely struggled, but that second half we came out how we’re supposed to start the game,” Johnson said. “If we want to get to where we’re going we have to find a way in those types of games to execute.”
Johnson is finally finding a long stretch of success in an Auburn career that has been plagued by injuries.
“I’ve been more excited this year,” Johnson said about being healthy this season. “I’m happy just to be a part of this success we’re having now.”
Johnson is having the best season of his career with 1,172 rushing yards, 166 receiving yards and 18 total touchdowns. Those numbers have thrust his name into the Heisman conversation late in the season, similar to Tre Mason’s late season Heisman campaign in 2013.
“I think that I belong there,” Johnson said about the Heisman talk. “But until it happens it’s just a wish.”
Once the Tigers found a comfortable lead, backup running back Kam Martin was able to get carries and find success on the ground.
“Every game that he goes out and does that, he just builds more confidence in himself and in the coaches,” Johnson said about Martin, who had 12 carries for 83 yards and a touchdown Saturday.
With a lot of opportunities coming for the Tigers down the road, including a chance to play for the SEC championship and earning a spot in the College Football Playoff, Johnson said the team is taking it one game at a time.
“Thinking ahead is dangerous,” Johnson said. “You’ve got to focus on the game in front of you to take care of business.”
Now that the Louisiana-Monroe game is over, Alabama is the game in front of the Tigers.
“It’s going to be a crazy atmosphere. This should be one for the ages,” Johnson said about the upcoming Iron Bowl. “Obviously, you don’t want to wish time away, and we’ve got preparation to do… But I’m ready to play that game.
“We’ve got to protect the ball, we’ve got to limit our penalties, we’ve got to execute. I’m confident we will come out on top if we do that.”
The monumental matchup with the Crimson Tide will decide the SEC Western Division champion.
“This is the best opportunity since I’ve been here to really win the SEC championship or at least go, and to me that’s huge,” Johnson said.
For the first time in his career, Johnson will have the chance to earn the right to play in the SEC Championship.
“That makes me smile every night. I’m just glad to do something and be a part of it,” Johnson said. “These types of games are the reason you come to Auburn.”