ULM

Auburn quarterback John Franklin III runs an 80 yard touchdown in the second half of a victory over Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday.

Gus Malzahn went into Auburn’s homecoming matchup against ULM with one thing on his mind: fixing the red zone issues. Through the first four games of the year, Auburn was second worst in the nation at converting red zone opportunities to touchdowns. On Saturday, he was able to fix that. Auburn converted every red zone opportunity into a touchdown, blowing out ULM 58-7.

On offense, many of Auburn’s key players continued their great seasons. In fact, quarterback Sean White may have had his best game of the season. After running in a three yard touchdown on Auburn’s first drive, the sophomore quarterback went to work through the air. On the day, he was 14 of 17 for 239 yards and two touchdowns. He hit the freshman wide receiver Kyle Davis for a 48 yard touchdown early on and then found Tony Stevens for a 48 yard score. White has found a handle on the offense as of late, and looks to be Auburn’s answer at quarterback as they head into the tougher part of their SEC schedule.

And while White will be the starter at quarterback, his backup made his case for playing time going forward. Junior college transfer John Franklin III only entered once the game was out of reach, but once he got his hands on the ball, he showed the elusiveness that coaches had been raving about for months. On his first drive of the game, Franklin faked the handoff and darted up field, leaving everyone in a cloud of dust on his way to an 80 yard touchdown run. Later, he stepped back and heaved a perfect throw to Nate Craig-Myers, resulting in a 39 yard touchdown to further extend Auburn’s lead.

With Kamryn Pettway injured and on the bench, Kerryon Johnson took over as the main tailback. Johnson dominated the Warhawks as the starter, carrying the ball 24 times for 146 yards and two touchdowns. Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn was thrilled with Johnson’s performance as the starter.

“Kerryon is starting to come into his own,” Malzahn said. “He is very elusive, breaks tackles and he is running extremely hard. We think he is in a good spot.”

Kevin Steele’s defense once again played well. After playing their best game of the year in a close win over LSU, they constantly harassed the ULM signal caller. They recorded two sacks and seven hurries to go along with an interception. Their growth going forward will help as Auburn faces the tougher opponents down the stretch.

Up next for Auburn is Mississippi State. The Bulldogs sit at 2-2 on the season after losing games to South Alabama and LSU. The game will be Auburn’s first road matchup of the season. To win, they’ll have to keep turnovers to a minimum and continue establishing the running game that’s set them apart this year.

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