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Five Things Auburn Must Do to Beat Bama

By on November 27th, 2015 in Football 20 Comments »

What Auburn team will show up for the 2015 Iron Bowl? Will it be like 2001 where  the Tigers found a way to win in spite of a decimated backfield or 2012, which was the least competitive game in the rivalry going back to 1949’s 49-0 beatdown by Alabama?

I think there are five ways for Auburn to win this game. Let’s talk about them. 

McKinzy must tackle. Auburn’s defensive front, specifically the interior linemen, hasn’t been able to create QB pressure but has done run-gap fitting very well. If the line can fill the run lanes, Derrick Henry will need to turn to the outside, where he is not elite at lateral movement and turning the corner explosively. If McKinzy can overcome a 2015 propensity to miss tackles, this gives Auburn a chance to stop Henry.

Contain Coker in the pocket with pressure. If McKinzy can help stop Henry, especially on first-down plays, Auburn will be in position to put Coker where he doesn’t like to be: behind the chains. Coker’s past performance in such situations has resulted in his being flushed out of the pocket where he has thrown across the middle of the field, resulting in multiple interceptions. With a defensive line that has had difficulty in getting sacks, Auburn just needs to apply pressure. Coker has proven that he is capable of screwing up on his own.

Don’t play in the box. Auburn can’t afford to play in the box against the best front seven in football. Auburn has to find a way to stretch the field, attempting the deep ball and completing it at some point, to overcome Bama’s propensity on defense to play with at least 9 players within five yards of the snap. Auburn hasn’t been able to push the ball down the field this year, and if it continues to call 90% of the plays to develop within five yards or less from the line of scrimmage, it will be completely destroyed

Play the hot hand. So many times we hear coaches refer to sticking to the hot hand. However, at running back Auburn has done anything but. In the near disaster against Jacksonville State, Barber was picking up first downs but was shelved for almost the entire second half before winning the game late. Against Georgia, Robinson completely disappeared despite bashing the Dawgs in the first half to the tune 9 yards per carry. Thomas hasn’t done much on the ground, but at times he has been a force at wide receiver. Auburn needs to go more with the guys who have the hot hand.

Play the youth. For all they have done at Auburn, many current offensive players are just not performing. While the leadership that comes from experience is invaluable, it can be provided on the sidelines. I have seen enough from younger players such as Kerryon Johnson, Tony Stevens and Jason Smith to know that they need the ball. They have been electric when called on but have not received enough chances.

Auburn’s chances to win are extremely slim. Most fans, in their heart of hearts, believe that this game will be similar to the 2008 and 2012 losses. But, unlike those teams, this year’s Auburn isn’t a defeated bunch lacking skill or coaching. The bones to be Beat Bama are there. If the Tigers can stick to the points noted above, they have a shot at winning.

 

20 Comments

  1. DBAU81 says:

    Out of all these, “don’t play in the box” may be the most important. We have to stretch the field by making the Alabama defense respect the downfield pass. That means (a) Sean White will have to play a lot in this game, (b) our offensive line will have to play like maniacs protecting him, and (c) our wide receivers will have to catch the ball. Opportunities to make good plays will be few and far between in this game, and we simply can’t afford to waste them when they arrive.

    Another key will be to have some early success in some phase of the game to develop some momentum and keep the crowd into it – like we did in 2009, for example. If we can just hang around until the fourth quarter we’ll have a shot. And that’s all we can ask. WDE.

  2. neonbets says:

    #6. Win the turnover battle…by 3.

  3. domaucan1 domaucan1 says:

    I MADE THIS COMMENT TO UGLY JOE’S COLUMN, BUT I THOUGHT IT COULD FIT HERE ALSO:

    GREAT TO HEAR WHAT I HAVE BEEN PREACHING TO YOU YOUNGSTERS FOR OVER HALF A CENTURY. AUBURN IS THE PLACE TO BE ANY TIME BUT ESPECIALLY ON GAME DAY. MY ONLY REGRET IS THAT I LIVE SO FAR AWAY THAT IT’S A LITTLE TOUGH TO GET BACK OFTEN.

    THE LA/MS WAR EAGLE EXPRESS WILL BE HEADED TO AUBURN ON FRIDAY, IF THE GOOD LORD IS WILLING, AND, THE GAME WILL BE JUST A SMALL PART OF THE WEEKEND. IT WOULD BE WONDERFUL FOR OUR BRAVE YOUNG WARRIORS TO PULL AN UPSET OF BIBLICAL PROPORTIONS, BUT, ALWAYS REMEMBER, WIN OR LOSE:
    IT’S GREAT TO BE AN AUBURN TIGER !!! ( I WOULDN’T TRADE PLACES WITH ANYONE, ANYWHERE OR ANYTIME !)
    WAR EAGLE !!!
    GO BIG BLUE !!!
    DAM THE TIDE !!!
    – See more at: http://trackemtigers.com/auburn-is-a-good-thing/#comments

  4. AUFan1 AUFan1 says:

    Enjoyed this article Zach. Maybe your best yet. And thanks for making it shorter. I could actually read this one on my I pad. War Eagle – Beat Bama!

  5. Older Whiskey says:

    But the years and scores in the opening paragraph need editing. Here are some correct scores:

    1948 – UA 55, API 0
    1949 – API 14, UA 13
    2001 – UA 31, AU 7
    2002 – AU 17, UA 7

  6. easyedwin easyedwin says:

    Run to the edge and turn up field. Make UA persue laterally.
    Run pop passes [they work].
    Get Jason Smith involved in a seam.
    Put Roc in the slot as receiver.
    Use Jovan more [Robinson]
    Use Barber more.

  7. AUNation AUNation says:

    Good article Zach. So how do I nail down a fishing trip with you to the Big G in about March?

    • Zach Taylor Zach Taylor says:

      Buddy, you don’t want me to take you in the G. I’ve struggled for 2 years on that lake. Any other lake though, I’m golden.

      • AUNation AUNation says:

        Haha I grew up in north AL (Athens) fishing Wheeler and Wilson mostly with the occasional trip to Pickwick or Guntersville. I now live south of Montgomery so I don’t get to fish much big water anymore. Didn’t know I was living in fisherman’s paradise as a kid, with about 4 of the best bass lakes in the country within a couple of hours driving distance. G’ville can be frustrating and has semi been in decline the last few years from the insane bags that were coming out of there when the A-rig first caught storm. Still knowing that your next bump could be a 10+ keeps me going back.

  8. Orangeblood says:

    WHO HAVE THEY PLAYED?
    Scanning back through the Tides opponents you will see they’ve all got at least three loses. SEC teams will always be ranked, so what! Who really have they put down. LSU? Georgia? Wisconsin?
    Tennessee and Arkansas stayed close till third Qtrs.
    Yeah, Henry’s a beast. But if we can hold him to a buck/fifty, and make Coker throw it to beat us we got a 50/50 chance. We must pressure their qb.
    And Gus better show 4 wide outs and a blocking back 30% of the plays. Or Saban will have 8 tacklers on the line of scrimmage.
    We need an early lead and make them play catch up. Tigers got to throw deep at least three times in the first qtr. 5 by the half. Keep their corners and safety’s running deep. We’ll hook up once or twice.
    And for Heavens sake block on the perimeter. Our WR are not blocking well enough.
    A good plan. Play error free. some luck.
    We can win the Iron bowl.

  9. JRoweMDN says:

    I think you have some great points. They are all of the things that have put us in a good position to win games this year, but did not get played through to the end. The one thing I will say is most important will be momentum, getting some early, maintaining it through the middle and keeping it rolling all the way to the end. I believe this team can show up and play a respectable game. I can say this will be a defining game for Auburn in how it is won or lost and I think will show us what the coaches can do with the talent on the field.

  10. wde1988 wde1988 says:

    Ah. Iron bowl week. Let the smack talking begin!

    Great article Zach!

    Personally I think if AU has any hope of winning it won’t be with Jermy Johnson. No offense Jeremy. Bama will confuse the crap out of him with coverages. They will lay their ears back and pick him off all day. Why? Because their defense is that good. I don’t think he can handle the pressure they will bring.

    With that said… Auburn isn’t going to run between the tackles on bama who is stacking the box. To think that LSU and UGA couldn’t run on bama’s front four… you think Auburn can with our backs and lesser Offensive line? Not going to happen. Bama has fast linebackers! Really fast. Lateral running won’t get it done either.

    That means that if we have a hope of winning…. it’s with a healthy Sean White and a quarterback that can throw with confidence down the field. Is he up to it? That’s the million dollar question. We all saw him flounder in the Georgia game. His mechanics were way off. I don’t think that was his fault. He hurt his knee pretty badly in the Arkansas game. I didn’t know it was as extensive as it was… but apparently it’s pretty bad.

    Now – Rhett Lashley is already on record that we can expect to see two QBs on Friday if White can go. My opinion on splitting time is normally it never works. We demonstrated that against Georgia already. But if I were bama I would stack the box until AU started scoring points through the air.

    Because of our QB situation – we have to pass the football. We have to be successful at the pass in order to make bama defend against it.

    There is another issue that I think is noteworthy: Auburn’s defense. For AU to be successful or have a chance at success against bama – they have to play like they did against UGA. THEY HAVE TOO. Otherwise this game gets ugly early… and becomes the bane of Auburn’s existence for the next 365 days.

    I love the underdog role. However, I am not sure this program has it in them to pull this out againsts a very good bama team. So, my list of what Auburn needs to do is pretty short. Gus Malzahn has to make a decision… pick his poison and stick with it regardless of the outcome.

    For folks to think that Kirby and Saban won’t have Gus figured out… is a bit silly when 5 other lesser teams did it in spades.I mean Dan Mullen and Brett Bielema??? Come on!

    In situations like this… I just hope we can at least score a field goal… and be as competitive as we can be. It’s only my opinion… but I think we can only hope that bama has a monumental bad day and turns the ball over to us alot with a short field. Sure hope I am wrong.

    AU better pull out all the stops (which I have never seen with a Gus Malzahn coached team). I can think of one other time that was like this (or near this). In 2009 we faced a very similar situation. Bama finally beat us but it was in the fourth quarter as time was fading away. I would take that outcome 9 out of 10 times if it bought AU any respect for 2016. To me – that is the only way possible to put a positive spin on a very dismal season.

    WDE

    • wde1988 wde1988 says:

      Anyone watching the drama at LSU?

      I am afraid the SEC is about to lose a good coach to the big 10 or big 12. You can say what you want about an under achieving LSU team… but Miles has pinache. The mad hatter…. is what football is all about. LSU will regret the day when he walks out the front doors.

      The dude has guts. But more than that… he is the luckiest SOB I have ever met as a head coach.

      Enjoy the $15 MILLION apologies of having to listen to that noise – Da-da-da…. da!

      War Eagle!!

  11. audad says:

    Good column, Zach. I always like your stuff. AU hasn’t really played a full game all year up to its full potential, let’s hope they’re saving it for this one. That would give them a fighting chance. Opening betting line is 13, I’m surprised it’s not a bit higher after the pts we allowed against Idaho, even though the last two scores were during garbage time. All five things you list would be critical, but I will only comment on #2 (containing Coker in the pocket and flush him out). Even with the minimal pass rush AU has exhibited this year, there have been many, many times where enough pressure came from the outside to force an opposing QB to step up as the pocket starts to collapse. However, more often than not, AU linebackers are nowhere to be found and the QB ends up taking off up the middle of the field for a decent chunk of yardage. Or stops just short of the line and finds a wide open receiver across the middle. If that story plays out repeatedly again, it could be a long day.

    • Zach Taylor Zach Taylor says:

      I wanted to go into the use of edge rushers using the nickelback, which we saw at times this year. Of all qbs, Coker is the least likely to hurt Auburn on reading a blitz. The issue is, less is more. If Muschamp has to fabricate a pass rush with a nickelback all game, eventually Coker will find a screen or otherwise blitz read. And that’s a disaster. Auburn would need to be 3 for 3. Not 3 for 8.

    • wde1988 wde1988 says:

      Opening line is 13 points? With a back like Derrick Henry?

      Wow!

      I am not sure which program is getting disrespected more. Seriously. That’s amazing.

      I thought it would be like 26 or 28.

      If there was ever a need for a positive… maybe Las Vegas knows best!

      WDE

  12. […] week, leading up to the latest edition of the Iron Bowl, I wrote a piece entitled Five Things Auburn Must Do to Beat Bama. In that article, I outlined the critical things Auburn had to do to win. Typically, I don’t […]