Gearing up for Week Two.
Let’s hope Dameyune Craig has thrown these guys a LOT of balls this week!
War Eagle, everybody! We’re into week two of the 2013 college football season. There are a few big games in the SEC this weekend, but far more cupcakes than last week. All eyes this week in the league are on the big South Carolina at Georgia matchup. The winner of this one vaults ahead in the Eastern Division race. The loser could start 0-2, if it’s Georgia. Also of note is Florida visiting the Miami Hurricanes. Miami pasted FAU 34-6 last Friday night, but that’s probably not enough preparation to face Florida’s soul-squashing defense and ball-control offense.
Auburn’s opponent this weekend is the Arkansas State Red Wolves, a team the Tigers have played only twice before. In 2006, Auburn hosted the Red Wolves between the Ole Miss and Georgia games, and held Arkansas State to just 177 total yards, in a 27-0 beating. The Auburn offense looked pretty anemic in that one, as they were setting up for dismal 37-15 loss to Georgia the following weekend that wrecked any title hopes for the next three years. In 2010, Auburn played Arkansas State in the opener, and Cameron Newton burst onto the Auburn scene with 171 yards on the ground and 186 through the air as Auburn downed the Red Wolves 52-26. Tiger fans were alarmed that the defense allowed that many yards and points, however.
This game will kick off at 6:30 PM, Central time, and it will be televised on FSN. Check your local listings, and I hope you don’t have to rely on WatchESPN.com like I did, last week.
This year’s edition of the Red Wolves could make things tough, but I like Auburn’s chances. Only five defensive starters return for Arkansas State, and they are trying to break in a new starting quarterback, senior Adam Kennedy. He threw only 12 passes in the opener against Arkansas Pine-Bluff, completing 9 for 149 yards and a touchdown. Four Red Wolf runners broke 100 yards against Arkansas Pine-Bluff, but I suspect they’ll run into a tougher defense this week in Auburn. It’s going to be an interesting test for an Auburn linebacking corps that did very little against Washington State. Can they tackle a veteran runner like David Oku? Struggling in this game would not be good, considering the runners they’ll face the next two games after this one, against Mississippi State and LSU.
Much has been made about Arkansas State Red Wolf receiver J. D. McKissic, who caught 103 balls last season. Against Arkansas Pine-Bluff, he had just two catches for 3 yards. I’d expect him to see a lot of attention from the Auburn secondary, this week. If I’m the Arkansas State coordinator, though, I’d first try to run it on Auburn’s front seven, rather than trying a ball-hawking Auburn secondary too much with a new starting quarterback. Auburn has three of the top four players in the SEC after week one, in passes defended. Robensen Therezie, Jonathan Mincy, and Chris Davis all have three, along with Vanderbilt’s Andre Hal.
I’d also imagine that the Arkansas State defense, coordinated by SEC veteran John Thompson will try to load the box and slow down Auburn’s running game. They’ll make Nick Marshall prove that he can throw the ball efficiently, and to a receiving corps that can actually catch it. I’ve looked through the SEC league stats, and one thing that’s eye-popping is that Auburn and Alabama are 13th and 14th in the league in pass efficiency after week one. Auburn has the excuse that Nick Marshall had been Auburn’s starting quarterback for two weeks. A. J. McCarron over on the Crimson team was supposed to challenge Georgia’s Aaron Murray for top dog, this year.
In other SEC action, Arkansas hosts Samford, Kentucky hosts Miami of Ohio (could the Wildcats lose again, here?), LSU hosts UAB, Ole Miss hosts Southeast Missouri State, Mississippi State hosts Alcorn State, Missouri hosts Toledo, Tennessee hosts Western Kentucky (can Bobby Petrino make it two in a row over SEC opponents?), Texas A&M hosts Sam Houston State, and Vanderbilt hosts Austin Peay.
We’ll have our usual open thread up before the games start Saturday morning, and as always, feel free to chime in! I’ll be at a social event Saturday afternoon and evening, and won’t be available for my usual play by play. I’ll have a pretty dinky Android device on hand, but I’m sure not going to try to post much on that little thing! I’ll be watching, and I’ll have my grades up as usual Sunday afternoon one-ish or two-ish. I should be back for the full treatment of the Mississippi State game!
War Eagle, and let’s beat those Red Wolves!