AUBURN, Ala. – “It’s not easy to win in this league, “ said Auburn head coach Hugh Freeze after leading the Auburn Tigers (4-4 SEC: 1-4) to its first SEC win this year with a 27-13 win over the Mississippi State Bulldogs (4-4 SEC: 1-4). The win was thanks in large part to an offensive statement led by Payton Throne and backed up by the Auburn o-line.
Throne would throw for 230 yards with 20 completions on 26 attempts the first time the transfer has thrown for over 200 against a power five opponent while on the plains. The quarterback would also end with zero interceptions with a QBR of 189.3.
Most of the season before this game Auburn had used a two QB system between Robby Ashford and Thorne. Ashford would not enter the game as much, ending with two attempts rushing and zero passing.
“I told him this week, ‘it’s time to put up a ‘shut up’ and ‘figure out,’ who can run the things we want to run,” said Freeze about the non-two QB system, “Both (QBs) showed signs this week in practice of improvement. We started hot and felt good about our plan. We had a little plan for Robby (Ashford), too. We just never really got to it.”
Throne would throw to 11 different receivers including Shane Hooks who opened the game in a big way with an over the shoulder touchdown catch with 11:38 left to be played giving Auburn a 7-0 lead that Auburn never lost.
"It helps for sure. When you connect down the field early on, you feel good about it,” said Thorne about confidence when connecting early.
“When I went in Sunday after our last drive at Old Miss I just said this is what we are going to do,” said Freeze about getting more people involved in the passing attack, “We are going to play with some tempo.”
"I thought it was very important. Coach emphasized it all week, and I thought our guys did a good job of getting the ball back to the ref, letting them spot it, and then rolling again,” said Throne about getting into a rhythm, “The O-line did a good job of picking up whatever they were bringing too. I thought that was a big part of what we were doing."
The o-line were playing off their backfoot this week after senior center Avery Jones went down with an injury, meaning Conor Lew would step up for his first start against an SEC opponent.
Lew and the rest of the o-line would do fantastic giving up no sacks and being a large part of the Tiger’s 186 rushing yards, with rushing yards being led by Jarquez Hunter with 144 yards on 17 attempts.
“A lot of the guys that are freshmen came in together,” said Lew about the chemistry of the unit “we played in the All-American Bowl together. Ever since then, we have just kind of known that our group is going to be special. We tell each other that all of the time.”
"The offensive line did great at executing their blocks. There were some explosive runs today,” said Hunter, “Connor did good with his first start, and he progressed as the game went on. He did really good today."
“All week, we just talked about knowing their (Mississippi State’s) indicators,” said Lew “we knew they were going to play it and play all kinds of games up front. We did a really good job in the first half picking that up. And as a result, we were able to do well in the run game and play a lot better.”
84,043 people saw Auburn win, they felt it, they have faith in a new regime that Hugh Freeze is setting up, and after an offense performance like that from all aspects of an offense the 84,043 have reason to have faith.
Auburn will being on the road the next two weeks, first in Vanderbilt on the fourth of November at 3:00 p.m. CT. Then Auburn will have one final road test against the Razorbacks of Arkansas.