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Analysis points: No. 14 Auburn 42, Texas A&M 27

November 5, 2017 GMT

Postgame analysis of Auburn’s win at Texas A&M:

THREE THINGS WORTH TALKING ABOUT

K.J. is a man

When Texas A&M threatened, Auburn turned to Johnson to move from the shadows of its end zone and put the game out of reach. Leading 35-20 and starting at its own 4 following a defensive stop of the Aggies, Johnson accounted for the first 65 of 72 yards on a drive that ended with Eli Stove’s score on a jet sweep.

In a league loaded with great running backs, Johnson is as good as anyone.

Red flags

The return of former starting quarterback Nick Starkel gave Texas A&M an immediate lift and provided an answer for the Aggies even after Auburn seemed to have control of the game.

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Keep in mind, Auburn still held Texas A&M below its total offense average. But breakdowns led to big plays and made what should have been a comfortable victory uneasy until the end. Considering the schedule dead ahead, this performance gives Kevin Steele and his defensive staff plenty to get the attention of everyone.

Road win

The SEC’s most recent addition now presents one of the better road challenges. It’s not just the size of the stadium (102,000-plus) or the size of the crowds. It’s just … different. It’s the 12th man, the swaying upper deck, the yell leaders and one of the largest, loudest student sections around.

It’s a unique, difficult environment, and Texas A&M has been consistently competitive, making it a chaotic environment for visiting teams.

MINI GRADES

Rushing offense – A: With Texas A&M threatening, Kerryon Johnson took over the game on the ground and with a sensational one-handed grab.

Rushing defense – C: Texas A&M’s Trayveon Williams gashed the Tigers for a 40-yard gain and cracked the 100-yard mark.

Passing offense – A: Jarrett Stidham approached his first 300-yard game against an SEC foe. Good protection and receivers Darius Slayton and Ryan Davis stepped up.

Passing defense – C: Nick Starkel came off the bench to ignite the Aggies. You wonder how different A&M’s season would have gone had he not been injured in the opener.

Special teams – D: An Auburn punt block resulted in a momentum-shifting touchdown. But two blocks on Daniel Carlson field goal attempts? Unthinkable.

Coaching – B: The step back defensively is a concern, but Auburn’s offensive prowess after going off the pregame script proved the difference.

Overall – B: A good victory on the road, before a hostile crowd with an early start, is a positive step forward.