Bomb the Aggies!
Can the Auburn D break through this crew?
War Eagle, everybody! It’s another Auburn home game week, the first of four straight. This week, the Tigers get a chance to right the ship with a win over Texas A&M. This game will be the first SEC matchup between Auburn and and SEC newcomer this season. The game will kick off at 6:00 PM Central Time Saturday, on ESPN-U. While few folks give Auburn much chance in this matchup, it’s never over till you play it on the field. Auburn at night is a different animal, with an electric atmosphere. Texas A&M would not be the first heavily favored team to receive a surprise beating on Pat Dye field with a horde of fans screaming their lungs out.
For Tiger fans who’ve not seen much of the Aggies this season, I’d say the team they remind me most of as far as recent Auburn opponents go, is the West Virginia teams of the last decade. Aggie quarterback Johnny Manziel has similar speed to Pat White, and and receiver Ryan Swope can do a pretty good Jock Sanders imitation. The Aggies have been prolific on offense this season, averaging 31 points per game against SEC opponents, while Auburn is averaging only 12. Texas A&M gives up 20.2 points per game to league opponents, while Auburn gives up 24.4. Where Auburn might have a chance is if a struggling offense can get it together, and take advantage of an Aggie squad that is 11th in the league in total defense against SEC foes.
The Aggie defense is a blitz-happy bunch, somewhat reminiscent of the old defenses Joe Lee Dunn used to employ at Mississippi State. They blitz to get to the ball carrier, the quarterback, and especially to intimidate the offense. Auburn cannot come out in a three receiver set and run the ball away from the formation into the short side, because we’ll keep seeing heavy blitzing on that side till we successfully throw over it.
Where Auburn seems to have advantages are in field goal kicking, and penalties. Texas A&M is 11th in the league in penalties, averaging 57 yards per game to Auburn’s 40. Both teams have had a penchant for turning the ball over, but Auburn had none the last week at Vanderbilt.
While folks have seen an exceptionally moribund Auburn offense this season, it could be the defense’s turn this week to be exposed. Auburn has been decidedly average on the defensive line, less than average at linebacker, and a potentially good secondary has instead had to try to keep it in front, and make most of the tackles. Each week in the past I have pointed out matchups against young offensive lines that Auburn might be able to exploit. There won’t be any this week against Texas A&M’s veteran line. This team features several likely NFL draft picks next spring, up front. A&M will zone read and quick pass a defense to death. Tackling will be at a premium.
For those attending the game, dress warmly. It’s supposed to be windy and cool. Also, don’t boo our team. Cheer for them, or sit quietly. This year’s 1-6 start is not those players’ fault. The blame goes on the coaching staff, much of it for the schemes involved. Support those players.
One thing I’m really looking forward to is the military appreciation theme that will be evident at this game. Our troops don’t get enough thanks, and it’s great that these two schools are coming together to celebrate our great men and women in uniform. They keep freedom ringing in this country, make no mistake! I’m looking forward to the fighter jet fly by, and the parachuting at halftime. It should be noted that the chute part could be subject to cancellation, if the winds are too strong.
We’ll have an open thread up Saturday, and feel free to join in, cheer our Tigers, and even vent frustrations. I’ll be at the game, and hopefully will remember to pack my camera, this time! If nothing else, I’ll try to take as many as I can of the jets! War Eagle, and let’s give those Aggies an SEC night-game welcome!