ATLANTA — The first win of Auburn's 2018 season marked a number of firsts for the Tigers players.
Sal Cannella came up with the first touchdown pass of his career, hauling in a beautiful 10-yard strike from quarterback Jarrett Stidham to give the Tigers' an early 6-0 lead.
Cornerback Jamel Dean recorded the first interception of his career in the first quarter, which set up the first of Anders Carlson's three field goals — the first of the redshirt freshman's career.
Most importantly, redshirt freshman running back JaTarvious Whitlow capped off the first game of his collegiate career by rushing in from 10 yards out to score the go-ahead touchdown with 3:34 left in the fourth quarter.
Whitlow, the LaFayette native known as "Boobee," finished his first game with eight carries for 28 yards to go along with one reception for 5 yards.
In the first game of the season, Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn said, penalties are always your mind. That was the things he said the coaching staff tried to emphasize and over-prepare for during preseason camp.
That effort proved for naught. The Tigers committed more penalties Saturday than they had in any game during each of the past three seasons.
The final count was 12 for 103 yards, which is the most Auburn has had called against it in a game since a Nov. 1, 2014 win over Ole Miss, where it committed 13 for 145 yards.
At least three of those penalties were defensive pass interference calls committed on plays where the Washington receiver made the catch through the foul. A few came on drives that led to Husky points.
Carlson looked, at times, like the player his name suggests — the heir apparent to record-setting older brother Daniel, the answer at placekicker for Auburn for the next four years.
He also, at times, looked like a redshirt freshman making his collegiate debut on a national stage against a top-10 opponent.
Carlson attempted five field goals on Saturday, missing the second and last and making the rest. He was good from 32, 28 and 53 yards and off the mark from 33 an 53.
Auburn attempted a two-point conversion after both touchdowns, so Carlson did not attempt an extra point. He did, though, launch all six of his kickoffs out of the back of the end zone for touchdowns.
Auburn had a few players need help leaving the field after being shaken up on plays Saturday, but it doesn’t appear the team suffered any serious injuries.
Defensive back Javaris Davis, wide receiver Ryan Davis and linebacker Darrell Williams all had to be checked on by trainers but soon returned to the field.
Dean played with a heavy wrap protecting the injured fingers on his right hand.