Big Plays Help Auburn Defeat Missouri
The Auburn Tigers offense had one of the best passing performances in SEC history this weekend when they took on the Missouri Tigers in a game they won 56-14. Quarterback Jarrett Stidham finished with the second best passing game in conference history, doing it without throwing a pass longer than 30 yards.
A big conference win like that is sure to affect sportsbook odds for Auburn’s next football game, but it also sends a statement to their opponents that the Tigers will be a tough team to beat this season.
Stidham and his teammates set the tone from the very first pass of the game when he hit Kyle Davis with a pass over the middle that went 58 yards for a touchdown. The touchdown was the longest of the season for the Tigers, and got the team rolling early in the game.
After the game, Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said the team got off to a fast start, which was something the coaching staff had stressed going into the game.
Stidham continued to have a big first quarter and hit Will Hastings with a 46 yard bomb late in the first quarter. He picked things up again in the third quarter with a 57 yard touchdown to Nate Craig-Myers. In fact, the three long passes combined for all but 57 of Stidham’s 218 total passing yards against Missouri.
The 57 and 58 yard touchdown passes were two pass plays longer than 50 yards for Auburn this season. In 13 games last season, the team only had two pass plays longer than 50 yards.
After the game, Stidham said that anytime you start a game with a big play, you set the tempo for the rest of the game. He said the team came into the game with the mindset of getting some big plays early, and he is happy they were able to accomplish their goal.
The Tigers also tried to get some big plays in their game against Clemson, but were never able to get one, which affected their play during the game. The next week, the team abandoned the long passes and settled for shorter routes when they played Mercer. The team was eventually able to get its vertical game going against Missouri on Saturday.
Stidham said there were plenty of times in their other games that they went for the big play passes, but they were not able to connect because of bad execution. On Saturday, they were able to properly execute the plays and they paid off.
Malzahn also told reporters that offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey has been stressing hitting the big play this season to give their offense a more balanced style of play and keep the defenses guessing after Auburn had focused on running the ball in the past few seasons.
Malzahn said the team embracing the vertical attack opens things up for the rest of the offense, which was evident on Saturday as the team played one of its most complete offensive games in the past few years.
The team believes the success they are having with the vertical passing game will give them momentum going into their week 5 matchup against Mississippi State, which gave up big plays against the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday.