Boat Race in College Station
Buckle up and hang on! The Tigers and Texas A&M Aggies seem destined to have a shootout in College Station this weekend, and Auburn is a far cry from the paper target it was last season for the relentless Manziel-led Aggie attack. The buildup to this game is a testament to the job Gus Malzahn and his coaching staff has done since arriving on The Plains of restoring confidence and competence to the football program. Conquering ‘Manziel Mountain’ will still be a daunting task, but it is at least a legitimate possibility this year as opposed to 2012.
With a trip to Baton Rouge in the back of their minds, I really like the idea of Auburn approaching this game as if they are playing with house money. The Aggie defense has been porous all season long which bodes very well for Malzahn as he prepares to dial up an attack to keep pace with Sumlin, Manziel, and company. Offense aside, I also believe that Auburn’s defense might also have a few surprises in store for Saturday as Ellis Johnson continues to impress week in and week out.
Another interesting aspect of this game is the possible addition of Jeremy Johnson to the Auburn offense. Nick Marshall earned the starting job, no doubt about it, but Johnson showed some tantalizing potential last week against Western Carolina. And yes, I understand it was inferior competition, but I’d say JJ performed as one should when facing such an overmatched opponent. I wouldn’t be surprised if Johnson is on the field for most of Auburn’s attempts to land the deep ball – something Marshall has struggled with all season. Against an offense like A&M’s, you need to take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself.
One thing that a lot of people seem to have overlooked is the line of scrimmage battle in this game and how Auburn may very well have a distinct advantage. Auburn’s offensive and defensive lines have played very well this season, and that could spell big trouble for the Aggies in the long run.
Auburn must play mistake-free, create turnovers, and be physical from the first snap to the last – it is something they are completely capable of doing. They can’t shut Manziel down, no one would do that, but limit the damage he inflicts and keep him scrambling to keep up with the offense and the Tigers could make it two weeks in a row for the visiting team in an SEC matchup to send shockwaves through the conference. Win, lose, or draw – it is AUsome to be in the conversation again.
War Eagle! Beat Texas A&M!