No. 15 Auburn hoping to get offense going against Mercer

BY AP • September 15, 2017

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) The Auburn Tigers are hoping to change the view for both offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey and quarterback Jarrett Stidham.

The 15th-ranked Tigers (1-1) are moving Lindsey from the sidelines to the press box starting with Saturday's game against Mercer (1-1). As for Stidham, they're aiming to ensure he spends more time upright.

Facing an FCS team on the heels of a night of offensive misery against No. 3 Clemson could provide a good start if not hard evidence of progress.

Stidham was sacked 11 times against Clemson and the offense produced 117 total yards - the fewest of Gus Malzahn's college coaching career - in a 14-6 loss.

''All those things are correctable and will be corrected,'' Malzahn said. ''It's two games under a coordinator's belt with our players.

''Just defining what we're going to be and who we're going to be going forward and he's got a great understanding of that, and our players do, too.''

The Tigers are running out of time to fix the issues before starting a stretch of seven straight Southeastern Conference games at Missouri next week.

The Clemson game showed there's a lot to work on.

Auburn's running game has been short-handed. Stidham has been sacked a whopping 14 times and the passing game has produced few big plays and gotten scant contributions from a highly touted crop of young receivers.

''We're not going to overreact,'' Malzahn said. ''We are a good offense. You'll the offense improve. We've just got to do a better job of coaching our guys and getting them prepared.''

Mercer is coming off a 28-27 loss to Southern Conference power Wofford. The defense has only allowed 188 passing yards but that's skewed because Wofford only attempted 11 passes.

This is Mercer's first game against either a ranked FBS opponent or a Southeastern Conference team since restarting the program in 2013 after a 72-year hiatus.


Some other things to know about the Mercer-Auburn game:

BALL CARRIERS: Tailback Kerryon Johnson is ''day to day'' after missing the Clemson game with a right hamstring injury, Malzahn said. He expects Kamryn Pettway (plantar fasciitis) to be able to go. Neither Kam Martin nor Malik Miller logged a carry a week after Martin racked up 136 yards against Georgia Southern . Pettway was suspended for the opener so the backfield has yet to be full strength.

''Those other guys will be ready to go,'' Malzahn said. ''Kam Martin and Malik, both of those guys are ready to go if called upon. I think both of them will do a good job once they get in.''

WHITE'S BACK: Backup quarterback Sean White returns from a two-game suspension for undisclosed reasons. This game seems likely to afford Auburn a chance to get the 16-game starter onto the field.

RUNNING RILEY: Mercer's freshman quarterback Kaelan Riley has passed for five touchdowns but he's also run for three more. He has been intercepted four times. Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant ran for two touchdowns against Auburn, which ranks eighth nationally in total defense.

JUST FOR KICKS: Two-time Lou Groza Award finalist Daniel Carlson is perhaps Auburn's best player and has made a 50-yard field goal already this season. Mercer's Cole Fisher leads SoCon kickers in scoring, with two field goals and nine extra points.


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