JaTarvious Whitlow and his trio of touchdowns led the Auburn rushing stampede over Mississippi State in a 56-23 rout of the Bulldogs at home.
Whitlow made his impact on the game early as he took Auburn’s opening play for 30 yards, untouched into the end zone, putting the Tigers up 7-0.
“We are a run, play-action team,” head coach Gus Malzahn said. “We need to run the football to be successful. That’s our mindset every game.”
Whitlow tacked on scores from three yards out, twice, putting the Tigers up 28-0 and then 42-9 respectively.
“For us o-linemen, we like to run the ball and just get after them,” starting center Kaleb Kim said, also adding that Whitlow’s first 3-yard score was the running game’s play of the night.
Through five games this season, Whitlow has rushed into the end-zone seven times, already surpassing his total of six rushing TDs in 2018.
With Whitlow’s total of 55 yards on the ground and three scores, he positions himself as the second overall leading rusher in the SEC and third overall in touchdowns in the SEC.
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Whitlow's performance in the first half against a touted Mississippi State defense was disparagingly different from his showing at Texas A&M last weekend. Against the Aggies, the sophomore back only had two touches before halftime and didn’t receive his first carry until the second quarter, which was a call made by running backs coach Cadillac Williams.
Last year against the Aggies, Whitlow also struggled to get going, only rushing the ball eight times.
The Bulldog defense heading into this game lead the nation in turnovers, recovering seven fumbles in four games this season and has had at least one turnover in 15 of their last 17 games.
Tonight, big No. 28 secured the ball and didn’t lose a fumble, but did put the ball on the ground to later be scooped up by his team.
Fumbling has been an on and off issue for the Alabama native, losing two of three fumbles against Tulane. His four total fumbles on the year is one higher than his total of three in 2018.
"We had three turnovers on offense," Malzahn said. "That’s completely unacceptable and has to get corrected."
Averaging 5 yards per carry, Whitlow is an integral cog in the Auburn offense. Against Florida, dominating the line of scrimmage and getting the running game, and guys like Whitlow, going will be paramount for success.
Auburn will travel to The Swamp in Gainesville for its first of three straight away games next Saturday.
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