In a total reversal of Auburn’s season opening loss to Clemson, Gus Malzahn’s offense exploded for over 700 yards en route to a 51-14 victory over the Arkansas State Red Wolves. Auburn quarterback Sean White bounced back from a terrible passing performance against Clemson, while Kerryon Johnson and Kamryn Pettway both totalled over 100 yards rushing. All in all, Auburn put together one of their best overall performances in years.
Sean White was finally given a real chance at starting for the Tigers. In week one, Malzahn rotated his three quarterbacks almost once every three plays, never giving one a chance to build a rhythm. Against Arkansas State, White took almost every single snap for the Tigers, and rewarded Malzahn’s faith with a career performance. The sophomore quarterback completed over 70 percent of his passes for 244 yards and three touchdowns, while adding 60 yards on the ground. Gus Malzahn took note of the excellent performance and made it clear that Sean White will be the starting quarterback going forward.
“I was very impressed with the way he played tonight,” Malzahn said. “He’s our quarterback.
The running game also jumped back to life after racking up just 97 yards last week, the lowest ever for Malzahn’s offense. Kerryon Johnson, Kamryn Pettway, and the rest of the Auburn Tiger combined for 432 yards rushing. Johnson had 128 yards and two touchdowns, including a highlight reel 47 yard touchdown to open up the scoring. And after not receiving a single carry against Clemson, Kamryn Pettway broke out to lead the Tigers in rushing. Pettway rushed for 152 yards, averaging over 10 yards a carry. With the combination of Johnson and Pettway on the ground, Auburn looks to be set at running back for a long time. Malzahn was clearly excited by the extra edge that Pettway gives the offense.
“He’s a load, he’s a changeup,” Malzahn said. “He showed some speed there too.”
For the second straight week, the defense met the expectations set in the offseason. They were held to just over 400 yards of total offense, while the Auburn defense totally shut down their running game. Arkansas State was held to under two yards a carry, with only 66 rushing yards.
On special teams, All-SEC kicker Daniel Carlson had a night to remember. To go along with his three made field goals, Carlson ran a trick play to perfection for a 20 yard touchdown. Malzahn’s trick play was called at a perfect time, but the execution couldn’t have been better.
“It’s been a while,” Malzahn said of calling a fake field goal. “It was an outstanding play.”
Next weekend, Auburn hosts the Texas A&M Aggies. Kevin Sumlin’s squad is a surprise 2-0 after an upset win to open the season against UCLA and a blowout win against Prairie View A&M in week two. To win a second straight game, Auburn just has to continue the great play they showed on Saturday night.