Auburn, Ala. (EETV) - The Tigers of Auburn got the win they needed to open up SEC play against Mizzou.
No. 13 Auburn looked the best they have all season dominating Missouri to win 51-14.
Here are my 5 takeaways from Auburn's commanding win in week 4:
1) Stidham is Finally Comfortable
After the first 3 weeks of the college football season, many Tiger fans were starting to think that quarterback Jarrett Stidham was overrated and was not going to be able to lead the team.
Well, in the win over Mizzou, it was clear to see that Stidham has finally found his groove and is confident and comfortable in the pocket.
Literally anyone who doubted or criticized Jarrett Stidham at any point this year needs to knock on his door and give a formal apology.— Aaron Kirkland (@therealaaronk) September 24, 2017
Stidham was able to sit in the pocket and find the open receiver time and time again, throwing for 218 yards and 1 TD.
What was, even more, promising for Auburn, was that Stidham threw accurately and was able to throw the ball for a large number of yards.
He wasn't afraid to sling the ball downfield against Mizzou, something he was previously hesitating to do.
Stidham's longest completed pass went for 58 yards, that's more than half of a football fields length!
This game showed that the Auburn offense is now a true ariel threat, something that is important moving forward into SEC West play because the Tigers are now able to spread the field with the pass and can compliment it with a run.
2) The Defense Keeps Improving
If you thought Auburn's defense couldn't get any better from the first 3 weeks of the season than you were wrong.
This Auburn defense keeps finding a way to get better and better as the season goes on in different areas of the field.
This week it was their secondary showing the most improvement while the defensive line continued to do their thing.
They were able to hold Mizzou to 340 total yards on the night (the most the Auburn defense has given up all season), which is a relatively low number to hold any SEC team
Not only did Auburn continue to dominate on defense, they were able to improve in their secondary holding Mizzou to 216 total passing yards on the night.
Auburn was able to prevent the pass, and they were finally able to get the turnovers the defense has been unable to do earlier this season.
Coming into the game, the Auburn defense had only 1 INT and 2 fumble recoveries all season.
Well, that changed quickly in the game, picking off Mizzou on their second drive of the game. On top of that, the defense was able to force Mizzou into fumbling the ball away 3 times.
That's a total of 4 takeaways for the Auburn defense, finally showing that they can not only shut an offense down but can also take the ball away during offensive drives.
3) Kerryon Johnson is the go-to back
Johnson has been MIA since the second quarter in week 1 with a hamstring injury. And you could tell his absence hurt the Auburn offense because they were unable to start a run game with Kamryn Pettway.
Well, Johnson made his reappearance this week and man oh man, he made a statement.
Johnson may not have had a lot of yards this game (48) but he was able to keep finding the endzone, scoring 5 times.
Considering the Auburn offense has struggled to score touchdowns in the redzone, Johnson's scoring numbers are astounding.
Malzahn has stressed the last two weeks that Pettway was their go-to running back. However, Pettway was held out this week because of an ankle injury.
If you look back at week 1, the Auburn offense was without Pettway and focused on Johnson and Kam Martin. That was the only game in the first three weeks that the run game was able to get started.
With that being said, is Pettway hindering the Auburn offense? I think so.
After the dominating performance of Johnson, I think you can expect to see more Johnson and less Pettway.
4) Kam Martin is Number 2
Since his breakout performance in week 1, Martin hasn't seen much action in the backfield since.
Malzahn stressed on the use of Pettway in weeks 2 and 3, leaving Martin out of the equation.
Coming into the Mizzou game Malzahn said, "now moving forward you are going to see more running backs like Kam Martin and others get into the game."
That statement rang true. Martin finally got his second chance and rushed for 74 yards on only 9 carries! That's an average of about 8 yards per carry.
With Martin out of the equation for 2 weeks, the run game was lacking and when he was brought back into the rotation, the run game flourished.
Martin keeps making a statement every time he touches the ball that he should be the number 2 running back instead of Pettway.
I love a good underdog, hard-working player and that is Kam Martin. Every time he touches the ball he plays like he has something to prove.
And man he proved his point against Mizzou, which is only going to help Auburn going forward.
5) Will Hastings is the top receiver
Something you would have never thought coming into the season, Will Hastings being the number one target for Stidham.
Well after the Mizzou win, it is clear to see that Hastings is the go-to target.
Hastings has a knack for getting open, and not only open, very open down the field. He runs a crossing route that no team has been able to stop this season.
Although he only caught the ball twice against Mizzou, Hastings had 59 yards receiving. That is a lot of yards on only two catches.
Which backs up my point, that Hastings can get very open down the field.
Hastings is now a constant threat for defenses, which now opens up the passing game even more.
His consistent play and knack for running good routes will only help Auburn moving forward by providing a constant threat but also forcing other teams to focus more on him allowing other receivers to get just as open in other areas of the field.