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  1. This is a great point, and we shouldn't have needed 40 to beat UGA. That's a schematic issue that I hope Coach Johnson will address in the offseason. We also didn't exactly "step-up" vs. FSU. I'm convinced that FSU's offense benefitted greatly... GREATLY... this past season from their defense forcing turnovers. We didn't give up TO's like they were used to and their offense showed that it has trouble stringing together long drives. As for the secondary, Robinson Therezie will be the leader next year, Johnathan Mincy will step up in a big way to cover the most dangerous receivers, and I'm hoping to see Johnathan Ford get more time on the field as well. This is a great year for buildling up our secondary, what with every QB in the SEC leaving for greener pastures...
  2. So, it seems that the opinions for the outcome of the game on this forum are really polarized. A lot of you either think that FSU is going to be the toughest team Auburn has faced all year or that FSU has just played a bunch of cupcakes and will get embarrassed playing Auburn. In some ways, both of those opinions are correct. I've taken a look at the statistics and watched a few of the games in my down time this holiday season and here are some notes I've picked up along the way. First, statistically, Auburn doesn't even belong on the field with FSU. But this is where both of the above assumptions are correct. If we're looking at just the numbers from the season, FSU would destroy us, but we can also see that they played what may have been the weakest schedule in the ACC, and that's saying a lot. But, there are three games that just don't make sense. Clemson, Duke, and BC. One would expect FSU to have more difficulty with Clemson and Duke, but to have easily blown out Boston College. So why is it that the outcome of the games makes it seem like the complete opposite happened? I'll address BC first, mostly because it matters the least. Anyone that uses this game as a measuring stick for FSU should be forced to use the Miss State game for Auburn. Both of these teams have grown a lot this season. Yes, auburn more so than FSU but Auburn also has had a lot more room to grow. Either way, BC didn't hold FSU to any less offense than other teams did throughout the season, but the major difference was their ability to put up points. This suggests that BC has an offense that FSU wasn't able to match up well with but it was actually a combination of a couple of factors, the first being special teams. BC started drives either in FSU territory or within 10 yards of it 5 times in the game and scored on 3 of them. Which bring me to my first note on FSU: Their special teams are not going to help them in this game. If the game comes down to special teams, its an Auburn win easily. We are stacked across the board in kicking, punting, coverage and returning. FSU has some major holes. They are pretty average on punt returns (42nd) but terrible at punt coverage (121st). They are very good at kick returns (3) and good at kickoff coverage (17th). They should be fine kicking off but if we can force them to punt (and we will), they will not have a good time. They rank 116th in Net Punting with just 34 yards per punt, Auburn ranks 9th with 40. Expect Auburn to win the field position battle all night. The other factor that allowed BC to stay in this game was FSUs mental errors. This is not something that they will carry into the national championship. The BC game was FSU's first conference game and came in week 4 after games against Pitt, Nevada, and Bethune-Cookman. They were still putting things together and they made some errors that allowed Boston College to stay in it. Based on their performance the rest of the season, that was not a problem for long. But moving on from BC, just two weeks later, FSU travelled to Clemson and completely embarrassed the Tigers. This game was the most confusing part of the season for me because, believe it or not, Clemson is a great team. So how was it that FSU was able to beat them to the tune of 51-14? The answer is simple and its a key for Auburn on Monday: Turnovers. Clemson gave up the ball four times and only had one pick on Jameis. On those 4 turnovers, FSU got a TD every time, Clemson punted after they picked off Jameis. Turnovers, and specifically interceptions, are exactly why FSU is where they are today. They are 3rd in the nation with 34 turnovers this season and first in the nation with 25 interceptions. It is vital, absolutely vital, that we don't throw multiple interceptions to them. But, as you all know, this is also in Auburn's favor. FSU has created gigantic statistical differences against their opposition this season by ending their drives early and gaining new drives for themselves. They get points on almost all of their turnovers and they create a short field for Jameis and co. to work with. But with Auburn, they will need to find a way to create that short field opportunity without interceptions. They won't be able to count on fumbles either. Auburn may fumble the ball once, or twice on a bad day. FSU will have to force that to happen in auburn territory, but FSU is tied for 54th in the country with just 9 fumble recoveries this season. A final note on the FSU/Clemson game: Clemson actually played a great game on defense. 24 of FSU's points came off of turnovers and they were unable to drive the entire field on Clemson once the whole game. They did achieve two drives of over 70 yards, but both of them ended in field goals (there was one 95 yard possession, but it was the result of a 72 yard TD pass in which two clemson defenders failed to wrap up on what should have been a 12 yard pass). Clemson applied strong pressure on Jameis all night and even forced an interception. And they did that with just their front 4. The problem was their secondary, which played a weak zone defense all night and allowed Jameis to hit receivers on 10-15 yard passes almost at will. Finally, FSU played Duke. A Duke team that just took A&M down to the wire in the CFA bowl. And they put up 45 while holding Duke to just 7. Yes, Duke did essentially the same as Auburn against A&M, however, put it in perspective. Auburn did it in mid-October in College Station. Duke did it two days ago on a neutral field. Also, we all know that A&M has almost no defense. Their greatest defensive asset was their home crowd and they didn't have that in Atlanta. Auburn had some missteps when we played A&M but we have worked those out in the last 2 months. Looking at the ACCCG, it's apparent that Duke's offense is not on par with their defense. So consider also, that A&M put up more on Duke than FSU and they did it without the 3 turnovers that FSU turned into 21 points. All in all, there's no doubting that FSU is a very good team. They have won big in all of their games and they've done it with a stifling defense. But many of the key factors for FSU will likely be negated on Monday. If FSU is going to win their keys are Slow the Auburn rushing attack and force Marshall to throw. If they can do that, they should be able to gain a handful of INTs. Second, they have to hold off the Auburn defensive line. Our pass rush is very good and against they only team they've played all year with a similar front 4, their offensive line did not perform well. Finally, avoid punting from their own territory. Auburn is great as punt returns and FSU is bad at covering them. If they only ever punt from mid-field, they can avoid allowing Auburn to win the field position battle. The keys for Auburn: Run like they've run all season. Use Marshall and Mason to pound it down field all night. Take FSU's secondary out of the game by avoiding passing as much as possible. Avoid costly turnovers. FSU will take advantage of any chance we give them and a short field is all they need to add 7 to the board. Fundamentals. We will likely be playing man coverage to slow down Jameis. They have very athletic receivers so when they bring in a reception, make the tackle. One broken tackle can make the difference in this game. Oh, and if you want my score prediction: Auburn 43 - FSU 24
  3. I was at that game. Clemson's problem is that they weren't prepared to run a true HUNH. Whenever they used a quick snap, it was a first down. But they only did it once every 10 plays or so. After an initial look, I'm expecting to see auburn open up big holes and run those package plays a lot. I'm not sure FSU has a true answer for that. FSU has started slow against all of their major opponents with the exception of Clemson. They only take big early leads against teams like NCState, Wake Forest, and Syracuse.
  4. We might find a point in the game where pinkel lines the safeties up in the box and plays man coverage on the receivers. That would work to slow down the run game but Gus has some really tricky plays he can use to gash a defense that does that. Either releasing Uzomah and hitting him off the play action or whatever it is that we run that keeps getting coates/louis open deep.
  5. I like our chances against the ends. Gus has shown later this year that his package plays don't come with 2 or even 3 options but rather up to 5. We'll attack the ends with reads because reads are most effective when they target the best defensive player. Missouri is more dangerous than Bama on offense. But it remains to be seen if their numbers are somewhat boosted by a weaker SEC east schedule or if they're the real deal.
  6. The turnover argument is the best stat that Mizzou has going for them. However, Mizzou is +4 in TOs vs. OOC opponents. So they're +9 in the SEC. Also, They have only played 2 conference games where the TO ratio is not -1, 0 or +1 for Mizzou. Those were UGA and UT. Mizzou was +4 against UGA (again, without Gurley/Marshall) and +3 against UT (who they played after UT who Mizzou got at home after UT travelled to Alabama). Auburn was +2 against UGA/UT combined so we aren't as good at forcing turnovers. We've basically given up a single turnover every game and forced 1 every game with the major exceptions being Miss ST where we gave up 3 and forced 0 (when Gus decided we were going to pass all game) and Arkansas, where we gave up 0 and forced 3. I'm not worried about TOs as we dont have any real tendency towards giving up big ones and Mizzou doesn't force a lot outside of playing weak opposition.
  7. Saying "with an Auburn win on Saturday..." i mean that if Auburn wins, we will be watching intently. I'm not trying to assume we will win. In fact, I'm more confident about an MSU win than I am about an Auburn win. But I assume that if Auburn loses, we won't be quite as concerned with the outcome of the MSU/OSU game. Context. The main reason that avoid looking at strictly performance against common opponents is that teams change drastically throughout the course of a season. For example, Both Perdue and Illinois faced OSU after facing that tough MSU offense. Could that have had an effect on their performance against OSU? Can't say one way or the other. But I also don't think I included any "intangibles" in the analysis. I'm not talking about Field Awareness or composure or anything like that. That is included when I talk about MSU not allowing 100 ypg rushing at all this season alongside the fact that OSU runs almost twice as much as they pass. OSU is not on par with MSU offensively because MSU does not rely on their rushing attack like OSU does. I like the way you looked at this game, but I think MSU is actually going to score 20+. They may actually be one of the more underrated offenses out there right now. ** I did say that both teams rely on the rushing attack. But I was wrong about that. MSU is a very well balanced attack and will throw all over the field on OSU's 98th ranked passing offense.
  8. Seeing as, with an Auburn win Saturday, we'll all be watching the Big Ten CG just as intently as the SECCG, I wanted to put some notes out there on the two teams. The national perception, of course, is that Ohio State is the second best team in the country behind Florida State having destroyed almost all of the opposition that they've faced this year but with the asterisk that they have not faced very stiff opposition. On the flip side, as someone who has not watched any Big 10 football with the exception of some Nebraska games (go Huskers!) my understanding was that Michigan State can play incredible defense but may not have what it takes, offensively, to beat Ohio State. However, after a first glance at the numbers, here are a few things of note: Both teams started the season with all 4 of their OOC opponents. While MSU lost a close one to Notre Dame, OSU's strongest opposition was (or should have been) Cal, who is easily the worst team in the Pac 12 and maybe the worst AQ team in the FBS. Michigan State also faced South Florida. So while OSU blew out weak opposition, MSU struggled a bit early with somewhat tougher competition (they also played a terrible first game against W. Michigan). As for their Big 10 schedules, these two teams played a lot of similar teams. But I can't give a lot of credit to OSU for blowing out weak teams more than MSU did. So for this analysis, I chose to throw out a few games from both teams schedules: For MSU, I threw out Purdue and Illinois (the two worst B10 teams on the schedule) as well as the OOC teams. For Ohio State, I threw out Purdue, Illinois, the OOC schedule and the Penn State blowout. MSU did not get a chance to play PSU, instead having faced Minnesota, and I would throw out Minnesota but it actually hurts MSU to keep them in and I don't want to be overly biased with the analysis. Finally, while OSU played Wisc, MSU played Nebraska, but I think these teams are fairly similar, I mean, they both wear red, right? SO, looking at the numbers again, the teams are much closer on paper. OSU scoring 37.8 ppg and giving up 26.6 while MSU is scoring 30.3 and allowing 14.2. Not only is MSU scoring way more than I thought they were this season, but they're only scoring about 7 pts less than OSU while allowing 12 pts less. I started to look at common opponents but I decided that MSU will win this weekend when I noticed the following: OSU is giving up at least 1 fumble and 1 INT against every major opponent this season excepting Iowa. But including Iowa, they're averaging 2 TO's per game. Against the same opposition, MSU have given up 1 INT to each of them and lost 1 fumble, but they have forced almost 2 INT's each game. Additionally, both of these teams rely on their rushing attack. OSU has rushed about twice as much as they've passed against major opponents while allowing only marginally decent rushing from them. MSU, however, has a more balanced attack and has picked up more yards from passing in almost every game while absolutely destroying any team that attempts to run against them. (They have not allowed 100 yards rushing yet, at all, this year. OSU gave up at least 100 to Iowa, Indiana, and Michigan) So the keys to this game? OSU has to prove they can run against MSU if they are to have any hope of winning. At the same time, they absolutely cannot turn the ball over. For MSU, they have to use their ground game to set up the passing game (OSU is 98th in Passing Yards Allowed) and force a turnover or two. Honestly, I know it's not going to happen, but after having seen these numbers, I think the best possible NCG out there would be either Auburn or FSU against Mich State. What they've done on defense is pretty incredible. I also have more faith in MSU beating OSU than I do in either Auburn or Mizzou winning. I know one of us has to but that's a much better matchup than MSU/OSU.
  9. Pinkel is no slouch. He's a damn good coach. I still think we win but don't dismiss Coach Pinkel. Pinkel is a recruiter but from what I've seen of their season so far, the playcalling has been pretty dry. If the game is a chess match, Auburn wins hands down. If mizzou is going to win, its going to be on talent and execution.
  10. Before the Iron Bowl, I said that Auburn would need to do two main things to win the game, score at least 30 and not turn over the ball. Despite the one turnover, I would say that that was exactly what happened in that game. Even further, if you all are anything like me, you've heard a lot lately about how "lucky" this Auburn team is. But considering the performance of Alabama's kicker and Auburn's red zone defense, I liked our chances in overtime. So congratulations to the Tigers for one of if not the single biggest win in Auburn history. As we turn our gaze towards Atlanta, I'm feeling the itch again and felt the need to dig into a few numbers and see what we can expect this coming Saturday. I want to preface this with saying that this has been a much harder match-up to look into because of the major discrepancy in strength of schedule between the two teams. This discrepancy mainly comes from the incredible amount of injury that the SEC east experienced this year. On top of that, half of Mizzou's season has been played with a back-up quarterback. And adding one more wrinkle to the whole thing, event common opponents have been in very different positions when playing us: In fact, with the exception of Arkansas State, every common opponent that played us at home, played Mizzou away and vice versa. This Mizzou team has done more this year to impress me than Alabama has. The two most impressive things being putting up 36 on Florida and holding A&M to 21. It can be noted that both A&M and Florida faced mizzou after road trips to Baton Rouge, however, which might bring that back into perspective. A couple of promising things have been that Mizzou has given up over 25 points to mediocre offenses on the road 3 teams this year (@Indiana, @Vanderbilt and @UGA) although they were also able to hold Ole Miss to just 10 points in Oxford. Mizzou also has spread out both points scored and points allowed throughout entire games without any major drop off after halftime, in the fourth quarter or the need to ramp up in the first quarter. They do not seem like the type of team to score big initially and sit on the brakes like Alabama and they don't seem, at first glance, to have any extra difficulty in playing close games. So, they're basically unbeatable, right? I mean, their only loss came against S Carolina in the middle of the most difficult part of their schedule with a back up quarterback... BUT There is one immeasurable part of this matchup that could prove extremely beneficial for Auburn. Mizzou has never faced a rushing attack like ours. Not even close. They did face S. Carolina, who has been able to run the ball on everybody this year. But S. Carolina's rushing success has come from their well-balanced offense. With Connor Shaw out of the game for the first half, Mizzou was able to sell out against the run holding S. Carolina to just 75 yards on 35 attempts. They also faced Georgia, but that was a Georgia team without Gurley OR Marshall. The truth is, we will be able to say this about any team that we face this year because nobody in the country is running the ball like we do. At least, not with the same level of success. Every team that we have played KNEW that we were going to run the ball. And with the exception of Mississippi State, we lined up and ran it down their throats anyway. And the fact that we were able to do that against Alabama, Arkansas, and, with success later in the game, LSU, Auburn has proven that we will be able to do it against any team in the country. So what does that mean Auburn has to do? Well, it starts with playing sound offense and not turning the ball over. We should be able to put up 30 on mizzou without any problems but we will need to score consistently because they will also have a strong day against us. Mizzouri is well balanced but they lean towards the rushing attack (507 rushes vs. 373 passes this year). They are picking up 5.6 yards per rush and 236 yards per game. Our DB's have been strong playing man coverage this year and although Mizzou has been recruiting frost giants as wide receivers, we should be able to keep them in check most of the game. Mizzou is also a bit predictable. The playcalling, from what I can see, seems to be very similar to Spurrier's old Run 'n Gun from the nineties. Starting almost every first down with a rush and tossing the ball on most third downs (unless they're third and short, across the fifty, or experiencing difficulty passing.) My confidence level in this game is very similar to how I felt before the A&M game (remember back when we were expecting an 8 or 9 win season?) I think that both teams are going to be effective at moving the ball and coming out with a W is going to be a matter of how we perform in the red zone. So let me know what you think, and look for some notes on OSU/MSU later as well.
  11. We'll load the box for sure. We've faced better passing attacks for sure and as much as Bama fans like to think that McCarron is heisman quality, he's benefited more from his supporting cast than any QB since...well... Greg McElroy. I took a look at the numbers and here's how strong passing offenses have fared against us this year: WSU - Connor Halliday had a strong showing against us in the first half with 290 passing yards. The team grew a lot during this game and shut them down in the second half, allowing only 54 passing yards. Ole Miss - 154 passing yards in the first half. We let off the gas but they still only had 186 passing yards in the second half. Texas A&M - Nobody has been able to stop A&M's offense all year, so it was no surprise that we allowed 267 passing yards in the first half. But the defense stayed strong in the second half and allowed 202 yards. UGA - Just as we did against Ole Miss, the defense stepped up in the first half and allowed only 152 passing yards. But combining the short routes that UGA ran with the soft coverage that CEJ installed, they picked up 263 passing yards in the second half. I've stated before that the key for Auburn will be to keep it close going into the half. After allowing an Air Raid offense to put up 290 yards in the air against us in week 1, only one team has had similar success in the first half, and that's A&M. If you think Alabama is going to see that kind of success against us, at home, in the first half, you've got another thing coming. I'm not going to say that you can't beat us, but if you do, it will have to be either with your running game or by forcing turnovers.
  12. In terms of yards per game, the best team Alabama has faced is Arkansas, ranked 26 at 211.1 yards per game. In terms of YPC, it's still Arkansas, ranked 20 with 5.28. For the record, Auburn has 6.41 ypc for 320.3 ypg.
  13. The sample size is an unfortunate result of any college football season. There are only 12 games total (11 for this mid-season analysis) and when a team has played a weak schedule like Alabama has, there are only 4 good teams to compare to. And one of them is very very good on offense but abysmal on defense, so we're down to 3. Were it that college football could be played all year so many things in my life would be better. ;-) But I totally agree that we lose a game in the 20's. And I'm not straight up saying that we will be able to outscore them. I have no idea how well Auburn's offense will respond to this game. But I will say that IF Auburn can put up 30, we will win this game. Putting up 30 will require clock control and a lack of turnovers which are key to taking down Alabama. Their offense can't move fast enough to overcome an opposing offense that doesn't turn over the ball. I still can't credit Alabama for throwing against A&M. You might as well credit Auburn for running against Tennessee. But you make a great point in that Alabama crushed LSU on the ground. It's one of two things they've done all season that really impresses me (the other being shutting out Ole Miss). But the one thing that gives me hope about that is that they haven't done it on the road. Alabama's had 3 road games all season, A&M, Kentucky and Miss State. They escaped with close wins against A&M and Miss State. Miss State is the only defense that they've played on the road that gives up fewer than 30 ppg. Or, to even go FHeal's route on this one. Miss State is the only team they've played on the road that gives up fewer than 400 ypg. (Auburn is sitting at 406). I can't say that they CAN'T put up strong numbers on the road against decent opposition, but I can say that they have had the opportunity once and they failed to do so. Take that how you will.
  14. First, the entire post only ever talks about scoring defense. Auburn is the second highest scoring defense that Alabama has faced all season: Link, Not Opinion. You are right that Auburn's defense is not very highly ranked in Total Defense but that's the nature of a "Bend but don't break" defense. Alabama will put up yards but if they can't hammer it in in the Red Zone, and it won't be easy for them, then they won't put up points. And THAT is why Auburn is a much more highly ranked scoring defense. As for basing your argument on the other 8 games. You're only adding more noise to the equation. Alabama has played a weak schedule this year by picking up Kentucky in the east and playing Tennessee, who hasn't been good in half a decade. Colorado State isn't exactly a world beater either.Virginia Tech even lost to Duke! So when I base my analysis on the best defenses that Alabama has played all year, I'm just making the closest comparisons to Auburn as possible. Nobody is impressed with Alabama for blowing out Arkansas, Tennessee or Kentucky. So looking back at the score differentials against only teams that can field something more than a high school defense, Alabama is outscoring opponents. But then again, you don't win a game by increasing your score differential. All you need is 1.
  15. I would argue that we do have a similar defense to Alabama with the exception of 2 main components. One is the LB corps. Our Linebackers are a bit of a mixed bag in that we have either great game management or great athleticism where Alabama has very strong athletes that make great decisions at LB. The second part is the scheme. Alabama never lets up on defense. When a game is in hand, they crush the opposition relentlessly. They play their best football when they're up by 21 and the opponent is facing a shutout and Nick Saban has no qualms about doing things like icing a kicker from putting 3 points on the board in the fourth quarter when the team is down by 30. But Auburn goes prevent when the game is in hand. It allowed both UGA and Ole Miss to get back into the game in the second half. It also allowed Arkansas to put up 14 in the second half vs. the 3 they had in the first. The one major exception to this all year has been the LSU games. Alabama played lights out defense against LSU where Auburn struggled, even in the second half, to completely stop LSU's offense. However, Alabama did get LSU at home and despite the rain and the smaller than normal crowd, There's a big difference between LSU playing at night in Death Valley and LSU playing on the road. Again, even more reason to be thankful (seasonal relevance!) that we get this game in Jordan-Hare.
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