NASHVILLE – Despite a slow start, the Auburn Tigers (5-4, 2-4 SEC) picked up a 31-15 win over the Vanderbilt Commodores (2-8, 0-6 SEC) for their second win of conference play.
It took Auburn some time to get going, but two quick touchdowns in the third quarter put the Tigers up 31-7. Vanderbilt had a four-play, 44-yard drive towards the end of the third quarter that resulted in a touchdown with a two-point conversion.
The Commodores threatened to bring the score even closer in the fourth quarter, but a 16-play drive that covered 79 yards and took 9:04 off the clock ended in a turnover on downs, helping secure the win for Auburn.
What are the biggest things to take away from Auburn's second SEC win of the season?
Jarquez Hunter broke out in a big way
After a slow start to the season, Auburn running back Jarquez Hunter put together his second stellar performance in a row.
Hunter picked up 183 yards and two touchdowns off of 19 carries. Hunter finding his footing offensively will go a long way toward helping Auburn keep things going offensively.
Hunter broke the game open with a 67-yard touchdown run on Auburn's second play.
"As soon as that first run hit, on the headset, I told Cadillac (Williams) that's as patient as I've seen him on the inside zone," Auburn head coach Hugh Freeze said. "I do think that's why he's having more explosive runs the last few weeks."
Auburn's defense dominated on third down
Auburn held Vanderbilt to 2-14 on third down conversion attempts, and both successful attempts came in the fourth quarter.
Getting off the field on third down made a world of difference in Auburn's ability to hold Vanderbilt to one offensive touchdown.
"Just different pressures," Auburn linebacker Eugene Asante said on what was working for Auburn on third downs. "Giving them different looks, different fronts, different things they haven't seen and timing up the blitzes."
Sticking with Thorne at quarterback is paying dividends
Ever since Auburn has moved away from having a revolving door at the quarterback position, Thorne has played better.
This likely has a lot to do with him constantly being worried about being pulled.
"Yeah, it feels good," Thorne said on how it feels to play without the rotation. "I feel like we're on the same page right now and it helps with rhythm."
If Auburn lets Thorne work, good things tend to happen.
Dropped passes are an issue
Auburn had a lot of dropped passes in this game, particularly in the second half. Several of them wasted what could have been a golden opportunity to pick up a large chunk of yards or even put points on the board.
Auburn had five total passes dropped by four different receivers.
Thorne often goes back to a receiver after a drop occurs.
"I can't go, oh, he dropped the last ball so I'm gonna go to the next one (receiver in the progression," Thorne said.
Auburn's offensive line keeps getting better
Offensive line play for Auburn has gotten better as conference play moves along. Thorne has more time to throw, and the running backs are able to make more happen as a result of this.
"We don't need to leave it in the hands of anyone else," Auburn offensive lineman Connor Lew said. "Us five up front need to take control early, set the tone early, and good things will happen after that."
If the offensive line can keep improving, Auburn could find itself in a good position down the stretch.
Auburn will be back in action next week against the Arkansas Razorbacks (3-6, 1-5 SEC). The game will take place at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville, Ark. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. CT, and the broadcast can be found on SEC Network.
Don't miss out! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning.