Red zone running rewards

Bryan Matthews, Senior Editor
Auburn Sports

AUBURN | No. 13 Auburn had five trips inside the Missouri 20-yard line Saturday night and came away with 35 points.

That’s peak efficiency when it comes to red zone offense.

“Being able to go five for five in the red zone, I thought that was good with the offense,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said.

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Todd Van Emst/Auburn athletics

Auburn came into the game tied for fifth in the SEC in red zone offense, scoring on 10-of-12 (83.3 percent) of its trips inside the 20-yard line. But only six of those scores were touchdowns.

Kerryon Johnson scored a rushing touchdown on all five of Auburn’s red zone opportunities against Missouri leading Auburn to a 51-14 win.

“We’ve kicked too many field goals up to this point,” Malzahn said. “We were able to run the football in. To be a good red zone team, you’ve got to be able to run the football in. I know Coach (Chip) Lindsey and his staff have worked extremely hard on that."

Auburn ran 16 plays in the red zone and 15 of them were rushes, although two of those were scrambles by quarterback Jarrett Stidham on called passes. Stidham’s only official pass was a shovel pass to Ryan Davis.

Johnson was used extensively in the red zone with 10 carries including five from the Wildcat formation. Three of his touchdown runs came via the Wildcat.

“We got to punch it in, which was big for us with our struggles in the red zone lately,” Johnson said.

The Tigers are now ranked fourth in the SEC in red zone offense with an 88.2 score percentage.

Another plus for the offense was no turnovers after committing five a week earlier including a fumble in the red zone.

“The focus this week was protecting the football. We knew what we did worked and we just had to hang onto it and get in the end zone. We did that tonight and the scoreboard showed it,” Johnson said.

Auburn hosts No. 24 Mississippi State next Saturday at 5 p.m. CT on ESPN.

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