Five Things Auburn Must Do to Beat Bama
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.