By the numbers: Auburn hitting its stride at midway point
October 13, 2017
Gus Malzahn: “Very few teams in the country continue to improve. If we do that, then we will end up having a pretty good year.” Photo: Anthony Hall/Auburn Athletics
Oct. 13, 2017
By Greg Ostendorf
AUBURN, Ala. — We are halfway through the regular season, and Auburn is sitting pretty at 5-1 and ranked No. 10 in the AP Top 25. The path to an SEC championship and a potential spot in the College Football Playoff is still in place for the Tigers.
The only blemish to this point? A 14-6 loss on the road at No. 2 Clemson.
“When you bring up that name [Clemson], it hurts to hear that,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. “I know that it motivates our players and our coaches. All the experiences you have up to the first half help build everything in the second half.
“Very few teams in the country continue to improve. That is extremely hard to do. It takes a lot to get up each week and play at a high level. Very few teams can do it. That is our challenge. It is not easy. We talk about it, and we address it. If we do it, then we will end up having a pretty good year.”
That ability to improve each week will only magnify in the second half with road trips to LSU, Arkansas and Texas A&M looming over the next month, and home games against No. 4 Georgia and No. 1 Alabama to finish out the conference slate.
In the meantime, here’s a look at some key stats from the first half.
- Auburn is averaging 7.69 yards per play in conference games — best in the SEC.
- Auburn is second in the SEC in scoring (35.8 ppg), third in total offense (452.7 ypg) and fourth in both rushing (228 ypg) and passing (224.7 ypg). The Tigers are the only team in the conference that ranks top four in all four categories.
- Quarterback Jarrett Stidham leads the SEC in completion percentage (71.2) and passing efficiency (166.2). He’s tied for seventh nationally with eight passes of at least 40 yards and is tied for fifth with five passes of 50 yards or more this season.
- Auburn leads the SEC and ranks No. 11 nationally in third-down conversion percentage (48.9).
- Kerryon Johnson leads the nation with 12 rushing touchdowns this season. The junior running back is averaging a touchdown every 7.1 carries, and his 12 rushing touchdowns are more than 84 FBS teams have to date.
- Auburn has scored first in all six of its games this season. Under Malzahn, the Tigers are 31-8 in games when they score first.
- Auburn has allowed only 78 points, the fewest points the Tigers have allowed in their first six games since 2008 (67). The Tigers ranks No. 6 nationally in scoring defense (13.0 ppg) and No. 13 nationally in total defense (287.5 ypg).
- Against the run: Auburn has allowed 667 yards rushing this season (111.2 ypg) the fewest through six games since 2010 (574).
- Against the pass: Auburn ranks No. 19 nationally in defensive pass efficiency (107.88) and No. 20 in passing yards allowed per game (176.34). Junior cornerback Carlton Davis leads the SEC with 1.5 passes defended per game.
- Auburn is one of just 11 FBS teams that hasn’t allowed a play from scrimmage of 50 yards or longer this season. The Tigers have allowed negative or no yards on 155 of 425 plays (36.5 percent) through the first six games.
- Auburn has registered 35 three-and-outs on 77 drives this season, averaging 5.83 three-and-outs per game, which ranks seventh-best nationally.
- Auburn has held opposing teams without a first-quarter touchdown in every game this season. Opponents are averaging a mere 42.2 yards of total offense in the first quarter.
- Kicker Daniel Carlson is 11 of 15 on field-goal attempts this season. He has a total of 59 points through the first six games and his 14 points against Ole Miss last Saturday made him the SEC’s all-time leading scorer with 413 career points.
- Carlson is a perfect 26 of 26 on extra-point attempts this season. He’s made 167 consecutive PAT kicks, the longest streak in Auburn and SEC history.
- Carlson has touchbacks on 37 of 43 kickoffs this season. At 86 percent, he ranks third nationally.
Greg Ostendorf is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @greg_ostendorf
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