Washington v Auburn

Auburn's Sal Cannella catches a touchdown in the first half. Kickoff Game Washington vs Auburn on Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018 in Atlanta, GA. Todd Van Emst/AU Athletics

Postgame analysis of No. 9-ranked Auburn's 21-16 win over No. 6 Washington:

THREE THINGS WORTH TALKING ABOUT

Deee-fense

Just like we've seen often in the past, the Tigers can play some defense.

Washington managed a touchdown and three field goals, but the Huskies got to the Auburn 8 once and didn't score. They reached the AU 3 and didn't come away with points, either.

And it's not like Washington had a rookie quarterback behind the line -- Jake Browning is a senior and a four-year starter.

Another Carlson

Freshman kicker Anders Carlson made his debut Saturday in place of his brother, Daniel Carlson, who's now kicking in the NFL.

Anders made three of five field goals, including a 53-yarder. He missed a 54-yarder, but more problematic might've been the 33-yard miss. He didn't seem as free and easy on that one as he did his other four attempts.

Flag on the play

Auburn finished with 12 penalties in Saturday's game, which was called by a Big Ten crew.

That's the most Auburn has had in a game since it had 13 on Nov. 1, 2014, at Ole Miss. Most importantly for the Tigers, they had only one flag in the fourth quarter.

That was a Big Ten crew calling the game, by the way.

MINI GRADES

Rushing offense — C: Kam Martin showed more running chops that we might've expected as Kerryon Johnson's replacement. Still, he's running behind a line that was almost totally rebuilt, and that showed Saturday.

Rushing defense — A: Myles Gaskin broke off a 25-yard run, and Salvon Ahmed had a 22-yarder. But other than that, the Tigers gave up only 55 yards on the ground. 

Passing offense — B: Jarrett Stidham didn't exactly roast Washington alive, but he still made some throws that not everyone in the country can make. That one touchdown pass to receiver Sal Cannella (a tight end a year ago) was a big-league pass.

Passing defense — B: The Tigers gave up nearly 300 yards, and ordinarily, the performance they had Saturday would be worth a "C." But considering the quality of quarterback they faced, let's bump it up a letter grade.

Special teams — B: Carlson will develop into another great Auburn kicker, and Ryan Davis is a pretty good return man. The punting was solid, and the Tigers didn't allow a punt or kick return.

Coaching — B: Auburn has gotten some knocks for not having beaten a ranked team in a season opener since 1957 when it knocked off No. 8 Tennessee. Gus Malzahn directed his team well, and the Tigers were solid (not spectacular) in offense, defense and special teams and as a result, that streak is over. The decision to go for two points after the first touchdown was an unusual one, however.

Overall — A: Auburn's biggest advantage Saturday was in the stands, as there was a whole lot more blue and orange than purple. Otherwise, Washington appeared to have the advantage everywhere else. More experience, better offense, better defense. Auburn might better than we originally thought.

Sports Editor Mark Edwards: 256-235-3570. On Twitter: @MarkSportsStar.

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