Friday, October 18, 2013

From the Expert: Auburn Preview

The expert got just enough right last week to be invited back for another go-round.  We are a results oriented blog.  I am kidding.  Mr. Crawford Jones knows his way around a football field.  TWEET AT HIM!

Mid-season is upon us! Texas A&M comes into this one after a huge scare against Ole Miss. The game itself wasn't even the biggest scare; when Johnny Manziel clutched his knee in agony last week a collective gasp rippled through College Station. There will be no rest either as Auburn represents another tough test for the Aggies. Thus is the life in the SEC.

Who is Auburn this year?
  • Auburn comes into this game with an identical 5-1 record and a national ranking of #24. Their lone loss was to #6 LSU. This game has Auburn’s full attention since it was scheduled between two cupcake games versus Western Carolina and Florida Atlantic.
Battle to Watch
  • Mike Evans vs. Auburn Secondary: This is a big question for every opponent, but who will guard the big wideout? While Evans is third in the NCAA in receiving yards, the Tigers do have ballhawk Robenson Therezie (who is tied for the SEC lead in interceptions). So what’s the problem? Well, Therezie stands only 5’9” while Evans comes in at 6’5”. Giving up over a half foot to an already explosive receiver seems like a recipe for disaster on deep balls.  How will the Tigers counter this glaring mismatch?
Common Opponents
  • At this point it’s only Ole Miss. The Aggies beat the Rebels last week on a late field goal while the Tigers beat them two weeks earlier by a score of 30-22. The Tigers were more dominant overall, albeit they got to play them at home. The Tigers defense fared better against the Ole Miss offense, but the Aggies put up more points than Auburn did.   I don’t think we learned anything new here.
Defensive Outlook
  • A&M notched another sack last game, pushing their season total to five. IN SIX WHOLE GAMES! Once again, they will need to get pressure on Auburn QB Nick Marshall. Marshall has 4 TD’s and 4 INT’s (half of those coming in their loss to LSU). If he can take care of the ball, manage the game and keep the A&M offense off the field, the Tigers could be thinking upset. The Aggie defense gives up the most yards in the SEC, making the potent Auburn rushing attack all the more frightening. The Aggies will need a couple turnovers to create additional possessions and wear down the Auburn defense.
  • The Tigers bend-but-don’t-break defense ranks 3rd in the SEC in scoring defense but 10th in yards – with most of those coming through the air. This defense is tougher than what they faced last week, but it could still be a big passing day for Johnny Manziel.
  • With a defense that gives up a ton of yards through the air and nobody to match Evans’ size (honestly who does) expect his assault on SEC secondary’s to continue.   He will find the end zone at least once.
Offensive Outlook - More Fireworks!
  • Enjoy this one because it will likely be a high scoring repeat of last week, but expect the Aggies to work more through the air with just enough of Malena and the William’s duo to keep the defense off balance. The Aggies have always been the pacesetters on offense so expect them to score early (captain obvious, I know) and get the Tigers out of their comfort zone.
  • The Tigers would be smart to hold on to the ball as long as possible and try to play a “time of possession” game with the Aggies. The Tigers run the ball well and the Aggie defense is stuck in neutral, being pushed around almost at will. With that being said, I still expect the Tigers to make one or two crucial mistakes to give the Aggies some breathing room.
  • Texas A&M (-14) vs. Auburn @ Kyle Field 
  • 2:30 CST (College Station Time) 
  • CBS (prime time SEC slot)
From the Mouth of Head Coach Kevin Sumlin
  • "They're 5-1. They're ranked 24th in the country. They're very different from the team we played last year. They've got a lot of energy. In some respects, it's a lot like where we were last year. They've got a new coach. They've got new players. They're playing with a lot of confidence. Gus (Malzahn) does a great job schematically. They're playing very well. They've played some close games and gained some confidence. It might be a lot of the same guys, but it's a completely different football team from an attitude standpoint. That shows up, not only in their record, but in their approach as well."
Injury Report
  • Johnny Manziel took another couple years off of every Aggie fans life expectancy last week with his knee injury but he should be good to go this week.  Sumlin stated that Deshazor Everett is “probably probable” for Auburn.  I expect him to play, and the Aggies defense needs all the help it can get.  Which leads me to the understatement of the week: the Aggies really miss Kirby Ennis. 
  • Manziel will need to gash the defense through the air this week after torching the Ole Miss team on the ground last week. I expect that Manziel to predominantly move the team down the field with his arm, but finish one or two with his legs.
Kicking Game
  • Josh Lambo got the nod and gained some much needed momentum (and trust from the Aggie faithful) when he hit the game winning chip shot. Overall he was 2 of 3, but he made the one that mattered most.  RIP Bertolet.  
Last Week
My Prediction
  • I was close on A&M’s score last week but I gave too much credit to their defense. I expect a similar game this week in relation to the scoreboard. A&M Wins this one 41-32 with Lambo hitting a late FG to ice it.

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