Auburn run game falls flat in win over Texas A&M
AUBURN — The final result — a 28-24 victory over Texas A&M — made it more of a footnote, but Auburn's run game was at its worst Saturday.
The Tigers finished the game with just 19 yards on the ground on 21 carries, which is the program's lowest total since it netted just 18 yards in an Oct. 7, 2000, loss at Mississippi State.
It’s not quite official yet, but it looks as though Auburn’s nine-season streak of having a 1,000-yard rusher will end in 2018.
JaTarvious Whitlow, who carried 100 times for 626 yards through the Tigers’ first eight games, was the only player within shouting distance. But an ankle injury suffered in the win over the Rebels two weeks ago limited him in practice this week and sapped his effectiveness against Texas A&M.
Whitlow carried eight times for 16 yards against the Aggies, constantly coming in and out of the game as to limit his snaps on a bum ankle. That gives him 642 yards for the season with at most four games (three regular season, one potential bowl) left to play.
It was a good thing Jarrett Stidham's right arm led the team to victory.
WILLIAMS' BIG DAY
The list of skill players who have scored three or more touchdowns against a Gus Malzahn-coached Auburn team is a short one.
Mike Evans and Jeremy Hill did it in 2013. Melvin Gordon and Amari Cooper did it in 2014. Leonard Fournette did it in 2015. All those players are in the NFL. No one else had joined them since Kevin Steele became the Tigers’ defensive coordinator in 2016.
Until Saturday, that is. Trayveon Williams found paydirt three times in Texas A&M’s loss.
The junior running back ran for touchdowns of 38 and 1 yards, and he also took a screen pass from Kellen Mond 14 yards for a score, avoiding a stop for loss from Auburn’s leading tackler Deshaun Davis in the process.
Williams finished the game with 107 rushing yards on 17 carries and added five catches for 74 yards as the Aggies became the third team in the last four games to go over 400 yards of total offense against the Tiger defense.
At Auburn, Ryan Davis is known for his pass-catching prowess. He caught five passes for 75 yards Saturday and is closing in on Courtney Taylor’s career program record of 153.
But before he came to the Plains, Davis was a quarterback at Florida’s Lakewood High, where he set a record for career passing yards in Pinellas County that still stands today. He got to show those skills off Saturday.
After Daniel Thomas forced a Texas A&M fumble that Jamel Dean recovered, Davis took a short swing pass from quarterback Jarrett Stidham in the backfield and threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Sal Cannella that put the Tigers ahead 7-3.
Davis is now 2 of 3 as a passer in his college career. He threw a 62-yard touchdown pass to Darius Slayton during a win at Arkansas last season.
CHANGE UP FRONT
Auburn made a change at center during the bye week, replacing redshirt freshman Nick Brahms with junior Kaleb Kim. Kim started the first three games of the season for the Tigers, but Brahms had started the last five.
Malzahn said during a radio interview before the game that “it gives us a little more stability with a veteran guy.”
Jack Driscoll, who was limited during the bye week and considered “day-to-day” after re-aggravating a knee injury at Ole Miss two weeks ago, started at right tackle.