Auburn, Ala. (EETV) - Auburn fans were not expecting Saturday's game against Mercer to go the way that it had.

A should be blowout against an FCS opponent became a close scoring game with the Tigers barely squeaking out the win 24-10.

Here are my 5 takeaways from Auburn's win over Mercer:

1) No Offensive Leader

Anchorman Leadership

This one may be a surprise because most would believe that the obvious leader of the team would be the quarterback. However, in Auburn's case, there is no strong alpha-male leader on the offensive side of the ball.

I took the time this week to observe the Auburn bench in the fourth quarter when Mercer was one touchdown away from tieing the game. What I saw was this, nothing.

The Tigers offense was quiet, reserved and just overall lacked any sort of emotion.You would think that Stidham would be sitting with his offensive line and other teammates trying to rally them and get them back in the game, right?

Well here's a surprise, Stidham spent most the game sitting alone on the sideline, not interacting with anyone.

He was sitting off by himself, seeming happy go lucky smiling while watching the video board. What was running through his mind?

Only he can say but I like to think he was thinking about puppies dancing. Because that is the only thing that would make me smile and laugh in a game that was going that poorly.

This is lack of leadership from Stidham and lack of offensive intensity is a major issue moving forward.

If the Tigers offense cannot rally themselves on the sideline, I have a feeling there will be no comebacks coming from the Auburn offense.

2) Sloppiness with the Ball

Jersey Shore Fumble Meme

This one is self-explanatory. The story of the game was the fact that the Tigers turned the ball over 5 times in the game.

And some of these turnovers happened in the redzone, keeping the offense from scoring.

“We’re going to have to look at that. It’s obviously an issue and it’s uncharacteristic," said Gus Malzahn. "That’s a tough pill to swallow there, and we’re going to have to correct that.”

Well I mean, yes the turnovers were a major problem for Auburn. Surrendering the ball 5 times to an FCS team is not a good sign for Auburn.

The Tigers have already turned the ball over twice this season, both coming in week 1 against Georgia Southern.

The 5 turnovers this week combined with the 2 previous brings the Tigers total to 7 turnovers on the season.

That number is not a good number to have considering Auburn had 14 all last season.

The players don't seem overly concerned about the turnovers, which is slightly troubling.

"Yeah, they were pretty frustrating. But we’re a team and we love each other," said WR Will Hastings. "We know we messed up, and we are going to come back next week and protect the ball.”

Let's hope the Tigers can bounce back and protect the ball better the rest of the season because if the turnovers continue, Auburn will be fighting an uphill battle in every game.

3) Kam Pettway is Not the Same

Todd Van Emst/AU Athletics | Auburn Athletics

Auburn's Kamryn Pettway dives

It was clear to see Saturday that Kamryn Pettway is not the same runner that he was last season.

Tiger fans expected to see Pettway exceed last season this year, however, he is struggling and looks like he lost a pep in his step.

Pettway carried the ball 34 times against Mercer for only 128 yards. That is an average of 3.8 yards per carry, which is very, very, very low.

He could not find his groove and break out for a long run against Mercer, something I expected to see often in this game. Instead, Pettway had to grind it out, barely progressing the ball throughout the game.

Yes, I know he had 3 touchdowns, but the problem is that he is not getting the yards to help move the Auburn offense down the field.

I first saw this problem against Clemson, where Pettway had 74 yards on 22 carries.

For an offense that has been struggling in developing a consistent passing game, these numbers are highly troubling.

There are rumors of Pettway having an ankle injury, however, he has yet to miss any time for Auburn (minus the one-game suspension).

If Pettway can't find his step the rest of the season, expect Auburn to continue to struggle in the run game and for the offense to look to pass the ball instead of running it.

4) Looking to Pass, not Run

Todd Van Emst/AU Athletics | Auburn Athletics

Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham (8) throws in the second half. 

Well, it is clear that Auburn cannot move the ball by running it anymore, and are looking to pass much more frequently to get the ball downfield.

With Pettway being the only back getting carries (Kerryon Johnson out with injury and Kam Martin is well, who knows), the Tigers have barely been able to get yards on the run, which means the main way the ball has been moved is by the pass.

Jarrett Stidham threw the ball 37 times against Mercer, which is a fairly high number. Luckily, Stidham looks to have finally found his groove.

He completed 32 of those passes for whopping 364 yards. Those numbers are just crazy, considering his average pass went almost 10 yards.

So to put it blankly, every time Stidham would complete a pass, the Tigers would be close to a first down, effectively moving the ball.

Malzahn said those numbers were "as efficient as it gets." 

With Stidham finally finding his groove and moving the ball through the air, finally, expect Auburn to look to pass more than to run.

That is something I would have never thought at the beginning of the season, however, Stidham is the Tigers best chance of moving downfield towards the end zone and will have to do so when SEC play begins this coming week.

5) Injuries to Key Players are Showing

Kerryon Johnson in sweats

This final takeaway may be hard to see, but after watching the game against Mercer, it was clear to see that the Tigers are missing Kerryon Johnson and Marlon Davidson.

Johnson was out for a second week for an undisclosed ankle injury suffered in week 1. The Tigers run game clearly missed him against Clemson and that became even more apparent against Mercer.

Pettway is the only back getting carries and with Johnson out, there is no one else Malzahn will put in to rotate the carries. 

If Johnson was back, the Tigers may be able to establish their run game and be more effective offensively. 

Now to a missing Tiger on the other side of the ball. Davidson was questionable in the beginning of the season but managed to play in week 1 and 2, playing a key role on the defensive line. 

Well, for unknown reasons Davidson was not dressed for the game against Mercer. 

You could see the defense missed him throughout the game. Mercer was able to move the ball more effectively without his presence, having 246 total yards offensively. 

The defense will definitely need Davison back when they travel to Missouri this weekend if they want to put pressure on early in the backfield to stop their first SEC opponent.



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