Auburn, Ala. (EETV) - No. 6 Auburn managed to pull out a win in the second half to defeat ULM 42-14.
What should have been an early blow-out win was closer than expected, forcing Auburn to play
Here are my 5 takeaways from the Tigers win over the Warhawks:
1) Slow starts kill
This past Saturday is commonly known in college football as 'Cupcake Saturday' because of the power-5 conference teams playing smaller FBS schools.
What should have been an early put away in the first half of the game ended up not being the case for the
auburn football sucks. Very good class! pic.twitter.com/dckHVqEJfE— Bam (@BigBam3) November 19, 2017
I don't know if it was because of the 11 a.m. kick or Auburn was coming off a Georgia-win high, but they came out slow and lethargic.
"We didn’t come out like we have the last five or six times to start the game," said coach Gus Malzahn. "But every game is valuable from a coach’s standpoint."
At the end of the half, Auburn only lead 14-7, something I did not expect to happen.
Although the Auburn defense was able to hold ULM to 133 yards total offense, the Tiger offense lacked in production.
It wasn't until the second half that the Tigers showed up and started to play like the more dominant team they are.
This slow start will be unacceptable moving forward. Auburn will not be able to play lazy football in the first half against Alabama and expect to be able to put away the Tide in the second half.
2) Too many injuries
This slow start stated above was critical in how the game played out in terms of personnel on the field.
The idea of 'Cupcake Saturday' is you are able to have your first-string put away the opponent early in the game so they have a lower risk of injury.
Now with a slow start and lack of scoring kept Auburn's star players on the field much longer than they needed.
Early thought on Iron Bowl— Peter Burns (@PeterBurnsESPN) November 20, 2017
Considering injuries, when both teams are on their game, Auburn is more dangerous. However Bama much more consistent
Which Auburn shows up?
During the game several top defenders for the Tigers left the game due to injury, the main one being Jeff Holland.
Holland did return in the game, however, if he would have had a serious injury the Auburn defense would have been missing a key component in the Iron Bowl.
I saw at least two other players go down for Auburn who also needed assistance in getting off the field.
Malzahn has not confirmed their diagnosis or who will be out for the Iron Bowl.
However, these injuries will be a critical factor in whether Auburn can upset No. 1 Alabama.
3) Kam Martin ready to take over
Kerryon is clearly the best player on the Auburn team and is one of the best running backs in the nation. But what happens if he gets hurt or when he leaves Auburn?
Well, I think after the win over ULM, Auburn fans have no reason to worry because second-string back Kam Martin lit things up.
Martin finished the game with 2 TDs, 124 total yards. On top of that, he averaged almost 7 yards per carry. That's a lot of yards everytime you get handed the ball.
I think 95% of us knew that Kam Martin could do this all year..— BARNING HARD (9-3) (@jckjes7) November 18, 2017
Compare that to Johnson: 1 TD, 151 total yards, and about 6 yards per carry.
Based on these stats alone, I think Martin is ready to fill the shoes of Johnson if needed, a good thing in case Johnson get's hurt during the first half of the Iron Bowl.
4) Playing to the level of the opponent
Auburn seems to have this problem: playing to the level of their opponent when the game begins.
Basically, the Tigers will either play below their capabilities or exceed their capabilities based on their opponent (sometimes).
Auburn looked about the same as ULM in the first half of the game, playing way below expectations.
The same thing happened against Mercer. Auburn turned the ball over 5 times and held a 17-10 lead at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
The Tigers cannot have this problem going into the Iron Bowl. Although Alabama is about the same talent level as the Tigers, they will have to play above their expectations.
5) It was the beginning of Thanksgiving Break
If you watched on TV, you were not alone. The stands of Jordan-Hare Stadium seemed very empty, mainly the student section.
Home for the holidays— Auburn Gold Mine (@AUGoldMine) November 18, 2017
Auburn students get a head start on Thanksgiving break pic.twitter.com/V1aMR5plTV
A game that is played the Saturday of the beginning of a week off from classes will never draw a big student crowd.
You could tell that the stadium was not as loud as it normally is, but then again it was also an 11 a.m. kick.
With the Iron Bowl looming on the Saturday following Thanksgiving, the Tigers better hope their fans and students flock back to the plains to provide a rocking atmosphere that will shake Alabama.