Auburn's Jovon Robinson rushed for 99 yards in the first half, then took a seat as the Tigers rested players for the games ahead
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. — He faked a punt, played a bunch of guys, saw a confidence-boosting performance from quarterback Jeremy Johnson and came out of the game without any additional injuries. Coach Gus Malzahn said Auburn accomplished what it needed to in Saturday's 56-34 win over Idaho, the last stop before playing Alabama in the Iron Bowl at home next week.
Auburn led 35-17 at the half and 56-20 before the Vandals scored two touchdowns against backups.
"The best thing is we got the victory and got a chance to play a lot of guys who deserved to play," Malzahn said. "It got a little sloppy there, but, hey, it's a win. We wanted to get our main guys out of there early in the fourth quarter, and we did that. We're just happy that we came out of this thing pretty healthy."
Johnson threw for two touchdowns and ran for two more before departing early in the fourth quarter with a sizable lead. Former starting quarterback Sean White didn't play as he recovers from a knee injury, but sometimes-quarterback Jonathan Wallace did, and so did walk-on Tucker Tuberville, who played in his first college game in front of his dad, Tommy.
Eleven players had carries. Six players caught passes.
The game story
Auburn scored on five of its first six drives.
"We talked about getting off to a fast start, and our guys did that," Malzahn said.
Malzahn said he was most pleased with winning the turnover battle. Auburn intercepted two passes -- one for a touchdown -- and recovered a fumble that set up another score. The Tigers' offense didn't have a turnover.
"That was really our focus, protecting the football," Malzahn said.
Auburn did all of that without White, and two starting offensive linemen in center Austin Golson and tackle Shon Coleman. Malzahn said he'd likely know more about their condition Sunday or Monday.
"I think everybody will try their best to get their selves ready. Golson may be a little bit of a challenge," Malzahn said.
Malzahn gave future opponents something to think about when he called a fake punt, and punter Kevin Phillips raced 24 yards for a first down.
"We've kind of had that up for a long time, and haven't had the right opportunity to call it," Malzahn said. "I thought that was a big play in the game, too. It was pretty close game at the time.
"I don't think we've faked a punt in three years around here, so I think that caught them off guard."
It certainly caught Idaho coach Paul Petrino off guard.
"I thought they would save their fake punt for Alabama," he said. "I didn't think they would fake it against us."
Auburn became bowl eligible with the win, but there's a bigger game waiting in Jordan-Hare next week. Malzahn was asked in his post-game press conference when he'd turned his attention to Alabama.
"Here in about 30 minutes," he said. "As soon as I get through with TV, I'll head to the office."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine