First (serious) Auburn thoughts

Teasing aside, Auburn’s found a balanced offense for itself this season and scored at a record pace in conference play.

Auburn has been run-dominated in Malzahn’s five seasons, with his 2013 Southeastern Conference champions averaging an eye-popping 328.4 rushing yards per game and 173 passing yards a contest. This year’s Tigers do not possess the same rushing arsenal as their 2013 predecessors but enter Saturday afternoon’s contest against the visiting Bulldogs with a balanced average of 236.7 rushing and 229.4 passing yards.

Through six SEC games, the Tigers are averaging 43.5 points a game.  As the linked piece mentions, Auburn’s offense has never been that prolific before.  Georgia’s defense is going to have to pay attention to a vertical passing game that hasn’t really been there in the same way previously with Malzahn.

“They’re a great team with a good quarterback who can throw the ball,” Bulldogs senior inside linebacker Reggie Carter said. “We need a coordinated pass rush. We need to disguise coverages. We need hits on the quarterback and batted balls. All that plays into affecting a quarterback, and it’s everybody’s job.”

Said sophomore safety J.R. Reed: “Each week somebody is going to try and attack us, and we’ve got to limit the explosive plays and get some interceptions like we have been.”

Stidham was sacked 11 times in Auburn’s 14-6 loss at Clemson on Sept. 9, but he has been sacked only 13 times in the other eight games. Georgia’s defense has 17 sacks this season, including seven the past two weeks against Florida and South Carolina.

“You’ve got to push the pocket, and you’ve got to be able to get off the field on third down,” Bulldogs senior nose tackle John Atkins said. “We give them four seconds, and after four seconds it’s on the rush. You want to get back there.”

Getting pressure on Stidham may be a painfully obvious key to Saturday’s result, but that doesn’t make it any less relevant.  Auburn’s allowed a total of 24 sacks this season; fourteen of those came in its two losses.

As Smart noted yesterday, Auburn will be Georgia’s toughest opponent since Notre Dame.  As they were in that game, the Dawgs will be the road team.  Auburn and Notre Dame make for an interesting comparison in other ways.

ESPN’s FPI favors Auburn slightly.  S&P+ forecasts the opposite.  So does Sagarin.  As far as the raw numbers go, Notre Dame surpasses Auburn in offensive yards per play, but the Tigers have the better numbers in defensive yards per play.

The Irish held Georgia to its lowest average in offensive yards per play of the season, but considering that it was Fromm’s first start and the offensive line hadn’t fully settled in, I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to say the Dawgs are more formidable on offense than they were at that time.  Even so, Boom laid the groundwork for what Auburn’s defense might try to replicate in hopes of slowing Georgia down.  The reason Auburn may have more success with that approach is because it’s better at defending third downs than South Carolina’s been.

That being said, in conference games, Georgia’s posted a lower defensive yards per play average and a higher offensive yards per play average than the Tigers.

This looks to be a tough matchup for both teams.


Filed under Georgia Football

40 responses to “First (serious) Auburn thoughts

  1. While the country’s eyes will be on South Florida for the Irish and the Canes, the game of the day is shaping up to be Dawgs and War Tiglesmen in Greater Opelika.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Got Cowdog

      Good weekend for football. I’m at home in front of the big screen, no OOC travel or OOS nuptials, finally. Will have an old fashioned or two, Go Dawgs!


  2. gastr1

    Didn’t Aubrun have something like 11 sacks against Clemson? Kinda skews the numbers a bit. We need to figure out how to pressure them, that much is obvious.


  3. 92 grad

    I hate making an “if” statement, but, if our offense can be physical enough to block well we will likely hold a 10-15 minute time of possession advantage. So, our defense will be less fatigued late in the game. Could prove to be the key to survival.


  4. paul

    I expect Auburn to throw the mid range pass outside the hash early and often. South Carolina hit it a number of times.


  5. Derek

    I’m having a hard time being afraid of a team that we’ve beaten 9 of the last 11 times (should’ve been 10 of 11) and whose best win is vs. MSU.

    Paper tiger I say.


    • Scorpio Jones, III

      Uhhh…”Stidham was sacked 11 times in Auburn’s 14-6 loss at Clemson ” 11 sacks, and Clemson scored 14 points. Something about those numbers make me a little uncomfortable.


      • Hmmm.

        LSU, which only managed 21 against Troy and 17 against Florida, put up 27 against Auburn.

        Lots of data points in a season, grasshopper.


        • They scored 20 on offense. If you told me UGA would get a PR/KR I’d say 20 points would be enough, too. Though we haven’t seemed close to getting a big return in a while, though AUB has had issues conceding them.

          I think AUB is far more likely to give up 3 sacks or less to UGA, though. The Clemson game was an outlier for several reasons, not the least being CLEM’s DL is far better at getting after a QB than UGAs.


      • cali_dawg

        Me too. Although Clemson is not even close to the offensive powerhouse they were last season with Watson. They’re not really running up the score on anyone.


        • Cojones

          Good point. Are we making Clemson bigger than they really are this year predicated on last year’s NC? I think we are and the 4-point win over Auburn looks different when turned upside down from the current angle that says Auburn is tough.

          Yep, they have a couple of players who are good and have had good plays, but we can say the same for every SEC team that we have played. I continue to maintain that SCar remains the toughest team we will play on our SEC schedule this year.


        • tbia

          Come on now, don’t you watch all the playoff shows and how great Kelly Bryant is, and how his injury was the only thing keeping them from trucking Syracuse by 40?


      • dawgtired

        It’s hard to give your nerves a lot of credibility Scorp, Auburn’s water boy probably makes you nervous. 🙂

        That being said, I’ll admit, I’m a little more nervous about this game than others…probably that dang rabbit’s foot…


    • Biggus Rickus

      They’ve lost two games by 8 and 4 and rolled in the others. They’re good. I do think Malzahn’s only a slightly above average coach, so there’s always the potential for them to faceplant in this thing. I wouldn’t bet on it, though.


  6. WF Dawg

    Here’s the thing: I think we win Saturday, not because Auburn isn’t good, but because we’re better. Auburn has a once-every-5-years kind of team–nothing to sneeze at–but we have a once-every-30. It’ll still be a close game, probably within one score, and they’ll have moments of success, but we’re too talented, too deep, too multi-dimensional, and too focused to drop this one. I predict we’ll emerge with a lot of respect for Auburn, just like we did for USC, but ultimately with a W.


  7. JT

    I might be wrong but when they were rolling they had Pettway. I think even going back to last year they are a different team without him. He isn’t playing this Saturday.


    • Pettway hasn’t had much burn this year, honestly. His loss is not good for them, but he’s been behind Johnson the entire year for various reasons (suspension, health, etc). I think his loss will be felt this weekend in the sense that he’s good for the third and 2-3 whereas Johnson isn’t as heavy and is more apt to go down at the point of collision.


  8. Cojones

    What say you, War Eagle? You have the most objective viewpoint of any Auburn fan here. Of course, if that message is negative towards your alma mater, we understand your silence. 🙂


    • WarD Eagle

      Not sure what happened. I wrote a tome earlier.

      Short answer. Anything can happen. I hope it’s close. Nothing duller than a blowout.


  9. I’m starting to get the nervous shits thinking about it.


    • Russ

      I reserve those for Saturday morning. But yeah, I can see it coming.

      And I was really enjoying the stress-free Saturdays.


  10. Derek

    They were a lot scarier the last time we were No. 1 and 9-0:


  11. Spike

    Let’s step it up defensive secondary! Especially on third down!


  12. Will Trane

    Getting off the field on defense.
    Third down conversions.
    That was an issue at home against South Carolina.
    Probably boosted the numbers re SEC stats.
    Would like to see better run yardage production on first and second down.
    Has Chubb slowed down in hitting the gaps and outside lanes?
    Offense has to be very productive in this game. And our frosh QB has to play like he has never played before.
    Same for Pittman’s O-line.


  13. Will Trane

    I’d be very interesting in seeing the numbers by game in SEC play of Auburn’s QB vs. South Carolina’s QB.


  14. I am banking on the idea that Mel Tucker intentionally showed nothing in the way of creative blitz packages last week in order to unleash it on Auburn.


    • paul

      I like the way you think.


    • Derek

      We’re not going to do a lot of blitzing. CKS didn’t do a lot of it at Alabama and I doubt you’ll see us do it that much.

      He likes to rush four and cover. You’ll see blitzing under the following scenarios:

      -Desperation to get the ball back, i.e., down a score late
      -After the other team has completely given up on running the ball
      Empty backfield- the sack by 3 Saturday was essentially a read by Roquan. Once they emptied and they left no one in to block, that was a green light
      – some obvious passing downs

      They want to affect the quarterback through pressure, coverage and confusion but they don’t want to do it such that it risks the integrity of the defense. They don’t mind someone throwing from the pocket because, due to the tightness in coverage, there will be a lot of incompletions and interceptions. They just don’t think a qb can throw it around enough to beat them. The key to winning the football is stopping the run. If you can do that it takes a special qb to put a team on his back and beat high caliber athletes. There’s just not too many of those.

      That’s why they got all that hardware in T-town.


      • Scorpio Jones, III

        Spot on analysis…one comment I have to make is that all that hardware was produced with Bammer’s players.

        But the principle is sound for us, too. We have played one team with a quarterback who could really sling it around, but that team had no defense.
        Which is not true about Awbun. The problem for Awbun is that they are a little thin, numbers-wise on defense…especially across the front.


  15. J.G.

    Awbun’s got 2 RBs with more than 300 yds. rushing this season. Johnson has 868, and Martin has 310. Dawgs have 3, with Holyfield at 227. Fresh legs in Q4 make the difference, I think, assuming we take care of the ball. Dawgs win, 28-21.


    • Blakedawg01

      Dawgs have two nearing 1000…Swift will and Holyfield may break the 500 mark. Johnson is playing well but can he play and play at a high level for all 4 quarters taking a beating from our defense…that will be a big deal seeing that Pettway is out. He was a bruiser that took some of the beating Johnson will have to take all of on Saturday. I think it will be a war but if we go in and assert our will, we will win by 10 or more. I really like this team and their mindset this year. Go Dawgs!


  16. Scorpio Jones, III

    Here’s another thing that worries me if it comes down to a close game.

    I am, without question, a Blankenship fan, but….


    • WF Dawg

      Another way to read the numbers: Carlson is 2nd in the conference in FGs missed.


      • …. And Hot Rod is most accurate. I think Blankenship can nail a 50-yarder if required.


        • Scorpio Jones, III

          Pinkie comes to the sidelines after Gus calls his second time out. Kirby pats him on the hat…says “Look son, when you make this thing and win the game, for God’s sake don’t take your helmet off, ok?”

          “But, coach,” says Rodrigo, grinning, stadium lights reflecting off his glasses, “look at all the hot girls in the stands, don’t you want them to see me after I make this 52-yarder as the game ends?”

          Kirby yanks his face mask, pulling Blankenship’s head down to where they are eye-to-eye…stares into Blankenship’s face…

          “Ok, ok, ok, just kidding coach, when I make the field goal that wins the game…I can jump around and stuff, though right?”

          “Fist pump, Rod…act like you been there, we got four or five tough games left, there’s plenty of time for jumping around.”

          Liked by 1 person