Mississippi State’s Defense Will Provide Test For #4 Auburn
The competition gets a lot tougher Saturday when Auburn travels to Starkville to take on Mississippi State. To make that point, Tigers coach Tommy Tuberville wore maroon during his Sunday afternoon press conference. To make the point further, he put the team through two grueling days of practice (Monday and Tuesday) while most of us were cooking out with family and friends. His message: forget about Saturday’s win. It’s conference time.
Tuberville is concerned about Saturday’s game with the Bulldogs. And with good reason. If you watched last Thursday’s game with State and South Carolina, you know that the MSU defense is solid. Anytime you hold a Steve Spurrier offense to 15 points, you’ve done enough to win the game. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, they lost starting quarterback Michael Henig early and were never able to recover.
The game will squarely fall on the shoulders of the Tiger offense. And the task won’t be easy. No, I’m not kidding. Anytime you stop All-SEC receiver Sidney Rice dead in his tracks, you’ve accomplished something. Mississippi State shut him down Thursday.
Kenny Irons and company will see a much better opponent than last week’s. The MSU defense gave up only 81 yards rushing to the Gamecocks. Auburn’s offensive line will be tested. Look for them to respond favorably.
Tiger offensive line coach Hugh Nall ran a brutal preseason camp. His entire focus was on making his line more physical. It was apparent on Saturday against Washington State. The offensive line delivered one of its more dominating performances in recent memory. That should serve them well heading into this week’s game.
Nall says he’s been impressed with what he’s seen out of State. “I got the film on them yesterday and I was amazed by what I saw,” he said. “Those guys really come up off the ball and they’re well-coached. They gave up 81 yards rushing (to South Carolina). I don’t care who you play, that’s pretty good.”
Auburn enters Saturday’s contest a three touchdown favorite. That seems high in my opinion. Mississippi State will start red-shirt freshman Tray Rutland at quarterback. We should get to see more of Will Muschamp’s blitzing schemes as a result. That should be a lot of fun.
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