Auburn broke out the fun playbook against Alabama, and one of its plays actually worked.
Quarterback Jarrett Stidham threw the ball to wide receiver Ryan Davis, who had sneakily dropped back. Davis caught it and positioned himself to throw a 23-yard pass to running back Malik Miller. Double-pass touchdown.
Alabama defensive back Shyheim Carter said communication was lacking before that play unfolded. That’s why Auburn was able to pull it off.
“It starts with the Mike linebacker, which is Mack Wilson,” he said. “Not blaming nothing on him. It was all of us. He called one call, and we kind of went the wrong way.”
Happens. Alabama still won 52-21 on Saturday in Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Auburn’s two other scores were from the everyday playbook. In the first quarter, AU wide receiver Anthony Schwartz had a 2-yard touchdown run. Then, in the third quarter, Darius Slayton, another one of the Tigers’ receivers, had a 52-yard catch that took him to the end zone. There was lots of contact on that latter play, but no flag.
Half of the Crimson Tide’s eight penalties were on the defense, though.
“I’m more disappointed in the judgments and decisions that our players make that puts you in that situation,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “You can’t give other people a new set of downs three or four times in a game on third down. … Not the kind of winning football you want guys to play.”
Three of Alabama’s defensive penalties led to Auburn first downs. Auburn went 9 for 18 on third-down conversions. It had 19 first downs.
One of those penalties is the reason Alabama will be down a player in the SEC Championship Game next weekend. Defensive back Jared Mayden was called for targeting in the third quarter and will have to sit the first half against Georgia.
“We didn’t execute to well, especially on third down,” UA linebacker Anfernee Jennings said. “A couple penalties set us back. We came out in the second half trying to do better, and we did. I feel like we did.”
Jennings did for sure. He was the Crimson Tide’s third-leading tackler with eight total stops. He broke up one of Stidham’s passes, pressured him another time and sacked him once.
Also, Jennings caught his first career interception in the fourth quarter
“They tried to do a throwback screen,” Jennings said. “I just did my job. The ball ended up in my hand.”
“It felt good,” he said.
Ultimately, Auburn finished with 153 passing yards and 130 rushing yards. Stidham completed 13 of his 20 passes. He was sacked three times, the other two were by UA defensive linemen LaBryan Ray and Quinnen Williams.
Alabama linebacker Dylan Moses and Ray led the team with nine total tackles.
“They tried to really un-focus us by doing a lot of tricks and gimmicks,” Carter said. “We came in and adjusted at halftime. We came out and played to the Bama standard in the second half.”
Defensive lineman Isaiah Buggs has a hyperextended knee but Saban said he’ll be OK.
Reach Terrin Waack at email@example.com or at 205-722-0229.