Auburn’s defense had a solid start this past Saturday in its 42-16 win over Mercer. The Tigers only allowed 271 yards total, with the Bears averaging four yards per play.
The Tiger’s run defense is what stood out, though. Auburn allowed just 74 yards rushing and held the Bears to 2.4 yards per rush.
Cam Riley helped lead the charge with a game high 15 tackles, nine of those being solo.
“I feel like he definitely matured, just going in from the start of January to now, I feel like he's developing as a good player,” said safety Zion Puckett. “He’s a good factor for us this year.”
While Auburn did a great job stopping the run, the Tigers did have a tough time getting Mercer’s quarterback Fred Payton on the ground. Auburn was not able to sack Payton once, but did have 5 hurries on the senior quarterback.
“I think we could have had a few more sacks and we missed some tackles,” said head coach Bryan Harsin. “Mercer's quarterback did a good job. He was slippery.”
Auburn is looking to improve on that sack total and piggyback the 36-sack season it accumulated as a team in 2021, which was the highest sack total in a season for a Tiger defense since 2018.
The Tiger's next match up will be against San Jose State this Saturday. Auburn will continue to get a good look at mobile quarterbacks, as the Spartan’s quarterback Chevan Cordeiro is a dual threat. However, San Jose State did struggle in keeping their backfield clean last week in a 21-17 win against Portland State.
“They're a pretty good team. I feel like we have to respect the run game and the pass game,” Puckett said. “As long as we know our keys and do what we do and do the right technique, I think we'll be pretty good.”
That game is set to kick off this Saturday at 6:30 p.m. This will be another key game to work out any kinks before Auburn hosts Penn State on September 17th.
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Donavan Weaver is a senior at Auburn, majoring in journalism. He is from Brewton, Ala. and started with The Plainsman in fall 2022.