One Last Dance.
War Eagle, everybody. It’s tuneup week for the Iron Bowl, and Auburn’s final home game of the year. It’s one last time to strap on the pads in the home locker room, for a group of 13 seniors who’ve been through good times and bad on the plains. When these seniors depart, the last vestiges of the Tuberville administration will have moved on. These survivors are Jamar Travis, Ashton Richardson, T’Sharvan Bell, Ikeem Means and John Sullen, who’ve toiled five years at Auburn
Auburn also has nine fourth year seniors, and these are DeAngelo Benton, Anthony Morgan, Onterio McCalebb, Daren Bates, Jonathan Evans, Phillip Lutzenkircken, Emory Blake and Travante Stallworth. We know Lutz won’t play, as he’s rehabbing a hip injury. We certainly hope the rest of the guys have a good day, and a rousing send off from the partisan crowd.
There’s a football game to be played, against Alabama A&M. I think most pundits expect Auburn to win, but this game could be more challenging than many folks think. The Alabama A&M Bulldogs have a balanced attack, and a mobile, capable quarterback in Daunte Mason. They also have running back Kaderius Lacey, who’s closing in on a thousand yard season. What Auburn must do defensively is contain the running game, and put the pressure on. In the Bulldogs’ three losses to Alcorn State, Jackson State and Alabama State, they’ve been held to 47 of 105 passing, and only averaged 5.5 yards per pass. A ten yard cushion by Auburn, and soft front seven play will not get the job done.
On offense, Auburn has to get Tre Mason and Onterio McCalebb loose. Earlier this year, I watched a chunk of the Alabama Classis featuring Alabama A&M and Alabama State. State’s backfield occasionally featured former Georgia Bulldog Isaiah Crowell, and he was pretty difficult for the A&M defense to handle. Mason and McCalebb should have similar results. In those three A&M losses, Alabama A&M has given up 177 rushing yards per game. When the running game is working against them, they’ve been susceptible to the play action pass. Opponents in the losses have averaged 11.1 yards per pass. A balanced attack and some crisp throws by Auburn quarterback Jonathan Wallace should allow Auburn to open up the offense and put this team away early.
In other notes, Auburn seems to have a pretty big advantage in special teams, with the Bulldogs’ Chance Wilson averaging 37.1 yards per punt and 56.8 yards per kickoff. This only puts the ball at the 8 yard line on the average, so there should be opportunity for Auburn to break a big return. The A&M return game has had only a couple of returns longer than 21 yards, and Auburn specializes in not allowing returns at all, either on touchbacks on kickoffs, or fair caught punts.
We’ll have an open thread up early Saturday morning, and as always, feel free to join in and cheer on our Tigers! I’ll be unavailable for play by play this week, as I had to seek another venue to watch the pay-per-view-only broadcast. I should be able to produce my usual grades by Sunday lunch time. Then, we gear up for Iron Bowl week. Regardless of what’s transpired this season, we are NOT giving up on that game! There’s a chance Alabama won’t take it seriously, and Auburn could come up with another effort like the LSU game this past September. Regardless, I’ll be chronicling every play of that one. War Eagle, folks! Let’s smash the Bulldogs this week!