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Auburn Football Reset At Bye Week


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Auburn Football Reset At Bye Week

Jason Caldwell


6_7771896.jpg Auburn Offensive Line (Photo: Inside The Auburn Tigers, Scout.com)

Where Things Stand

Auburn has reached its bye week and the 6-2 Tigers still have a whole lot of football and opportunity left in front of them in the final four games of the regular season.

While technically Coach Gus Malzahn’s team doesn’t control its own destiny in the SEC race following a loss at LSU, it’s very unlikely that Auburn wouldn’t be in Atlanta if the Tigers were to win out the rest of the year.

First up is an important bye week for a team that has been dealing with injuries since the first week of the season.

Starting with running backs Kerryon Johnson and Kamryn Pettway, Auburn has had key players on both sides of the ball hurt throughout the year. One of most impressive things about this season is the constant turnover that the Tigers have dealt with on the offensive line and they still continue to perform.

Saturday’s grouping of Prince Tega Wanogho Jr. at left tackle, Marquel Harrell at left guard, Austin Golson at center, Braden Smith at right guard and Darius James at right tackle was the fifth different starting lineup this season for Auburn’s offensive line because of injuries to James, Casey Dunn and Mike Horton at different points of the year.

That’s almost unheard of and usually causes a ton of problems, but for the Tigers the offense has continued to thrive in recent games other than a pair of shutdown second halves against Ole Miss and LSU.

Throw in wide receivers Darius Slayton (ankle) and Kyle Davis (dismissal) and that’s seven starters who have missed time in just eight weeks on offense alone.

On defense you’ve had starters Marlon Davidson, Tre Williams, Tray Matthews and Javaris Davis all miss games because of injuries with Deshaun Davis (shoulder) and Daniel Thomas (broken bone in his hand) among those dealing with injuries throughout the year.

Now with a chance to let those players rest and heal this week, Auburn should be closer to full strength against Texas A&M and the Tigers have been perhaps at any time during the 2017 season.

The Bus Is Back

Since missing the opening game because of a suspension, this season has never really gotten untracked for Pettway.

Perhaps Saturday night was his coming out party, part two.

Entering the game the big junior was averaging just 3.3 yards per carry with a long run of 22 yards this year.

Against Arkansas he finally showed the burst, finish and power that made him one of the best backs in the country a season ago.

Carrying the ball 11 times for 90 yards and three touchdowns, Pettway boosted his yards per carry to an even four and more than that he showed he’s got the ability to get to the second level once again.

Bothered all season by plantar fasciitis that also turned into another lower leg strain, Pettway had the look of the Pettway of old on Saturday night.

If that guy shows up again with Johnson and the passing of Jarrett Stidham, look out.

Defensive Numbers More Impressive Than Meets The Eye

When you look at Auburn’s defensive stats they are good enough to hold their own with just about anyone in the country, but when you look a little closer at the most important stat a defense can have it shows even more the job the Tigers are doing on that side of the ball.

Giving up 15.6 points per game (125 points in eight games), Auburn is 11th in the country in scoring defense.

Take away the meaningless points late in games that were already out of hand and two special teams touchdowns the last two weeks and the starting defensive rotation has allowed just 77 points in eight games.

That’s just 9.6 points per game.

If Auburn’s starters and top reserves continue to play at that level the Tigers will have a great shot in every game left on the schedule.

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