During the first 5 games of the game, the Auburn offense faced an average of 7.2 situations involving 2-yards to convert a first down or touchdown. In the last 2 games, they’ve had only 3 against Arkansas and 3 against Florida. Facing fewer short yardage situations is a strong indicator of poor production on first down.
A forced-turnover by the Auburn defense has been worth 2.85 points. An Auburn offensive turnover has been worth 2.7 points for the opponent.
Only 5 players were targeted in Auburn’s pass-offense vs. Florida from their 16 pass attempts. Jay Wisner was the most targeted passer with 4 passes thrown in his direction.
Seven games into the season, Barrett Trotter has completed 64 percent of his passes on first down. The combination of Clint Moseley and Kiehl Frazier has connected on 80 percent of their first down pass attempts.
Through 7 games, the Auburn offense has scored on 28 percent of their possessions beginning on their side of the field. They have scored on 54 percent of their possessions starting at midfield or better.
During the last two games, Michael Dyer has averaged 6.04 yards per rush during the first half of his total carries and only 2.19 yards per rush during the last half of his carries.
Running the ball to the left 13.4 percent of the time, Auburn has averaged 4.44 yards per carry. Running between the tackles 61.2 percent of the time, Auburn has averaged 4.13 yards per rush. Running to the right 25.4 percent of the time, Auburn has averaged 7.81 yards per rush. The loss of Jared Cooper has been huge in the running game.
During the first 4 games of the season, the opponent was converting 75 percent of their 3rd downs in the 4th quarter and 64.7 percent during the second half. During the last 3 games, the opponent has converted 18.2 percent of their 3rd downs in the 4th period and 16.7 percent during the second half. The defense is clearly starting to close out games.
During the first 3 games of the season, the Auburn offense generated a play of 30-yards or more every 19.5 snaps. During the last 3 games, the offense has generated a big play every 72.5 snaps. Auburn will need at least 2-3 big plays on offense to beat LSU.
During the first 3 games of the season, the Auburn offense netted an average of 34.7 yards per possession. In the last 4 games, it has dropped to 24.5 yards per possession. Auburn also averaged 3 red zone opportunities per game during the first 3 games of the season. The Tigers had 2 red zone opportunities against FAU and only 1 against Arkansas and 1 against Florida.
During the 2006 and 2007 seasons, Auburn was extremely conservative on offense, relying on running, defense and special teams to win ball games. This approach was successful, leading AU to 11 wins during the 2006 season. Auburn's current coaching staff appears to have adopted the same philosophy, winning close games against South Carolina and Florida. The only difference was that Auburn ran the ball on first down 70.3 percent of the time in 2006 and 2007 and Auburn is currently running the ball 87.1 percent of the time in their last 3 games.
Since 1992, Auburn has averaged 19.0 points per game against conference opponents with 5 or less pass attempts on first down and under 200-yards rushing during the game.
Based on what we have witnessed over the past 4 games, the Auburn defense and special teams have played well enough to beat LSU this coming Saturday. The same cannot be said about the offense, which will need some form of offensive punch to score enough points to beat a dominating LSU defense. Tennessee gave LSU a good challenge during the first half, trailing 17-7. The Volunteers gained a respectable 111-yards rushing on 29 carries but LSU progressively pulled away and at the end of the day, Tennessee was on the short end of the stick, 38-7.
Auburn has struggled sustaining drives this season. In their last 3 games, Auburn has 4 possessions of double-digit drives from 44 possessions (9.1 percent). They have 4 possessions, where they netted 60-yards of offense during a possession (9.1 percent). They have 10 possessions, where they netted 40-yards of total offense (22.7 percent), which won’t get any better facing one of the best defenses in the country. This means that Gus Malzahn will have to be creative as well as aggressive in his play calling in order for the offense to produce points. It doesn’t mean the Tigers must abandon their conservative approach to offense but it does mean they will have to bring more to the table than what we have witnessed the last 4 games.
It all depends on how the game evolves. LSU could implode during one quarter, giving Auburn an opportunity for a couple of easy scores or the Auburn defense could play the game of their lives and hold LSU to 17 points. Even in the scenario that LSU is held to 17 points, Auburn must still score at least 3 times to win the game. The Auburn offense has scored only 2 offensive TD’s in each of their last 4 games, which still requires some improvement on offense to overcome 17 points scored by the Bengal-Tigers. Auburn rushed for only 155-yards against Florida. Even if Auburn can manage 150 rushing against LSU, the pass-offense will need to step up this coming Saturday.
It will take a complete “team” effort to defeat No. 1 LSU this Saturday but don’t count Auburn out. On paper, LSU should be the heavy favorite but upsets never happen on paper, they happen on the field. Auburn will be given their opportunity this coming Saturday but they MUST take their shots!