Oct. 19, 2013
Safety Ryan Smith intercepts a Johnny Manziel pass Saturday (Todd Van Emst photo)
COLLEGE STATION, Texas - Auburn's 45-41 victory over Texas A&M on Saturday at Kyle Field thrust the Tigers into the middle of the Southeastern Conference championship race.
With LSU's loss at Ole Miss, Auburn (6-1, 3-1) moved into sole possession of second place behind Alabama. The Tigers have full control of their own destiny. Should they win out, beating Arkansas, Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama, they will play in the SEC Championship Game.
Offensive line takes control
Offensive line coach J.B. Grimes had reason to be proud after Saturday's victory. When the game was on the line, his offensive line took control. The Tigers gouged Texas A&M's defense for 379 yards and three touchdowns on 60 rushing attempts.
"It's a great feeling," Grimes said. "The last time I was here I was with Kansas, and we got beat up pretty good. It was a great feeling to come back and win the game the way we did. I felt like before the game that if we were within 10 going into the fourth quarter we'd have a chance to win the game.
"It's a testament to a lot of things going on at Auburn right now. I want to give credit to our strength and conditioning guys. We were in better condition today, and when the chips were down we were able to pull it off."
Grimes said running backs Tre Mason, Corey Grant and Cameron Artis-Payne and quarterback Nick Marshall also deserved credit.
"They did a great job of running after contact," Grimes said. "When their defense got tired, the looks were muddy. You don't really always know who you are blocking because they aren't lined up right. There was some contact on the backs, and they made yards after contact. That was big."
A day for offenses
Saturday's game was expected to be a shootout, and it was.
Auburn had 615 yards offense on 379 rushing and 236 passing. Texas A&M had 602 yards on 133 yards rushing and 469 yards passing.
Frost gets first start
Sophomore Kris Frost got the first start of his career Saturday. He started ahead of senior Jake Holland, who had no contact work during the week after suffering a slight concussion against Western Carolina.
Frost was in on six tackles, including one for a loss. He chased down quarterback Johnny Manziel, holding him to a 5-yard gain and short of a first down on the next-to-last drive of the game.
Holland was in on three tackles.
Limited duty for Jeremy Johnson
Freshman quarterback Jeremy Johnson played three snaps in Saturday's game, throwing two incomplete passes and handing off once.
Quarterback Nick Marshall sat out last Saturday's 62-3 win over Western Carolina, and Johnson threw four touchdown passes in his first start.
Holsey doesn't make trip
Sophomore safety Joshua Holsey did not make the trip to Texas A&M after suffering a knee injury during practice Thursday. He was replaced in the starting lineup by senior Ryan Smith.
Tight end/receiver Brandon Fulse, suspended for last Saturday's game, returned and played significant snaps Saturday.