AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn hasn’t skipped over the fact that Ole Miss was part of an historic game last weekend.
Unfortunately for coach Matt Luke’s team, it was handed the worst loss in series history by No. 1 Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Still,
the 66-3 final score doesn’t fool the Tigers.
“I think everybody that sits in these chairs understands that, for some strange reason, when people play us, it’s like the
best game they’ve ever played,” junior Kerryon Johnson said ahead of Auburn’s second consecutive home SEC game.
“I don’t know what it is, but for some reason, when people play Auburn, it’s like, ‘Ahh, let’s go get this W, no matter how
we played last week.’ So that’s how we go into every game.”
That mindset worked well for coach Gus Malzahn’s team when it took on the other school from the Magnolia State last weekend.
Auburn routed Mississippi State 49-10 though just a couple of weeks earlier the Bulldogs had bullied LSU, 37-7.
If, in the words of Johnson, Patterson and his teammates come in “high-stepping,” it could be easy for the talented sophomore
to put up points on an unprepared Auburn team.
Preventing that from happening is an Auburn defense that learned in 2016 how important it is to stay focused on the next game.
“Because last year, we saw, you never know what can happen,” Johnson said. “You got to take these Ws, you got to take these
games one at a time and take it as far as you can.”
It’s a subject Auburn’s coaches bring up with players frequently. The message doesn’t get old, and every weekend in the SEC
West is “unique.”
“Our leaders understand that,” Malzahn said. “You can turn on the film and you can see they’re a talented team. … We’ve addressed
it. And like we talked about, the teams that are there at the end, they find a way to get up each week. You can’t buy into
what last week was, not in this league. We’re expecting their best and that’s our approach.”
Malzahn says Ole Miss’ receivers are “as good as anybody in the league.” And again, Patterson, who reminds Malzahn a little
bit of Johnny Manziel in terms of his escapability, is a force.
Wesley McGriff, who was Auburn’s defensive backs coach last season, is now the defensive coordinator for the Rebels, so Malzahn
knows McGriff will try to do a “super job” against his former team.
All in all, it’s another important test for an Auburn team that doesn’t have much room for error.
“I know they had a tough game last week. We are expecting their best,” Malzahn said. “Our guys understand that they are talented
and we’ve got to be ready to play. And our message has been, get better each week. I think we had a very solid game overall
last week, and our challenge has been to continue to get better.”
Lopsided scores aren’t typically the norm in the Southeastern Conference, but as Johnson says, “it’s happening.”
“Obviously, some people are getting better, some people are getting worse, some people are having bad games, some people are
having great games,” Johnson added. “Even though I think it’s the best league in college football, it’s unpredictable. … Anything
can happen. It just shows that, hey, every week, you can be on the receiving end.
“You’ve got to come out every day and every hour and every minute and be on your Ps and Qs. Or it could get ugly.”
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