Know Your Enemy: Auburn Tigers
All the narratives and talking points surrounding this matchup have been exhausted, so here is some #Analysis from the two coaches.
Two (War Eagle) Tigers to Watch
Defense: CB Chris Davis
As he proved Saturday evening, Chris Davis is very dangerous as a return-man on special teams. He has racked up 246 yards on 12 punt returns this season, highlighted by this 85-yard return for a touchdown against Tennessee.
However, do not overlook the impact he has for Auburn’s defense. The 5-11 cornerback leads the team with 65 tackles (45 solo) and has broken up 12 passes. It will be interesting to see who he’s lined up against (Dorial Green-Beckham or L’Damian Washington) and how often James Franklin chooses to test him.
“He’s a very physical corner. He’s a very good tackler. He’s meant a lot to our defense this year. He’s a great competitor. In the secondary, we’re going to need to play extremely well against their wide receivers.”–Auburn coach Gus Malzahn
Offense: WR Sammie Coates
On the rare occasion when Auburn does throw the ball, it’s usually to Sammie Coates. The 6-2 receiver has caught 32 passes for 747 yards this season. It should be noted that his best games have come against the likes of LSU (4 catches, 139 yards), Texas A&M (5, 104) and Florida Atlantic (3, 113), but he did have two receptions for 60 yards and this crucial touchdown against Alabama.
Under the Radar
TE C.J. Uzomah
This feature from AL.com offers very good insight on the 6-foot-4 tight end.
Fun with numbers: Uzomah has nine receptions, with three touchdowns on the season, including the game-winner against Mississippi State. Of his nine catches, four have either been inside the red zone or on third down.
Matchups to Watch
- Missouri’s basically playing with house money at this point. No one is expecting the Tigers (MU) to reach the BCS Championship game without help from either Michigan State or Duke. There’s no reason to expect a start similar to the one we saw last weekend against Texas A&M.
“I think offensively we were out of sync a little bit the first half…I think we just settled down a little bit, number one. Number two, we made a few adjustments in terms of things that we were doing. I thought that really helped us. Came out, had two scoring drives right away for touchdowns in the third quarter. Certainly was a momentum builder for us.” — Gary Pinkel following the Texas A&M game
- The same cannot be said about Auburn. The majority of the outside noise surrounds War Eagle and their chances of clinching a National Title berth over an undefeated Ohio State or Florida State. They’re also coming off of back-to-back emotional wins over their rivals, Georgia and Alabama (with a bye week in between).
“Each week [the coaching staff] presents a challenge to our team. Of course, it was a little easier in the Georgia win because we had an off week.
We just challenged them today, ‘Hey, we got to find a way to put that behind us.’ We’ll talk about it after the SEC Championship game, all that. But we have our hands full with Missouri. We’re playing for a championship.
This team has risen to the challenge each time we’ve challenged them. But it is a definite factor, as emotional a win as that was last night.” — Gus Malzahn following the Iron Bowl
- Auburn does a tremendous job of wearing down opposing defenses with its triple-option style. While Missouri’s athleticism should give its defense something of an edge as it tries to corral Nick Marshall and Tre Mason, keeping that offense off the field as much as possible will be imperative. Obviously, that implies making stops on third down, but some of that responsibility also falls on the offense, which must establish the ground game early with Josey and Murphy. Despite the temptation to test that Auburn secondary early and often, Mizzou will be best served by taking the air out of the ball and grinding it out on the ground.
- At no point can Missouri let off the accelerator. Even a 4-score lead in the 4th quarter feels vulnerable against this Auburn team, considering its knack for bizarre and miraculous comebacks.
- It’ll be interesting to see how Pinkel handles Andrew Baggett when field goal opportunities arise. He’s hit just 3 of his last 7 attempts, but playing in a dome for the first time in his career may be good for him.
- Embrace the sudden lack of national respect Missouri has been receiving over the past week. It will make the victory over Auburn (if, of course, MU is able to pull it off) that much more impressive and figures to have a positive impact on the polls.
Missouri emerges victorious in high-scoring affair at the Georgia Dome Mizzou by 4Brian Haenchen founded Hank’s Sports Blog in 2009. You can follow him on Twitter (@Brian_Haenchen) or email him (firstname.lastname@example.org).