Nick Marshall threw for only 99 yards in his debut as Auburn’s quarterback, but he didn’t throw any interceptions, which is three fewer than Washington State’s quarterback did.
The running game totaled 297 yards, which includes the nifty 75-yard touchdown run by Corey Grant.
Auburn gave up 28 first downs, which makes it awfully hard for the Tigers to get the ball back.
But, again, there were the three interceptions, which are a big improvement over last year. Also, Auburn allowed only three points after halftime, which is shades of the 2010 group that always seemed to do enough to win.
Cody Parkey kicked three field goals, and Steven Clark put three of his five punts inside the 20-yard line. Then again, did you expect anything other than excellence from these two?
Also, Tre Mason had a brilliant 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
There is plenty to work upon, but Auburn displayed the identity it will develop under Gus Malzahn. The Tigers showed a willingness to run the ball, which is important to sustain success in the SEC.
Also, Malzahn showed a fun side by going for two — and making it — after an early touchdown.
Defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson didn’t inherit a ton of talent from last year’s squad, and that shows, too. But the Auburn defense doesn’t look much like the disheartened group of a year ago.
This Auburn team hardly looks like a threat to the top-level SEC powers Saturday, but it was an important first step.
Every rebuilding program has to start somewhere, and Auburn started by avoiding what would’ve been an embarrassing defeat.
Washington State has won only 12 games in the previous five years, but years from now on paper, it will look like a good win over a team from a major conference in the Pac-12.
Auburn will face Malzahn’s former team, Arkansas State, next week. Arkansas State opened its season Saturday by hammering Arkansas-Pine Bluff 62-11. Arkansas State did all of its scoring in the first three quarters, including 48 in the first half.