StatTiger 2,975 Posted August 27, 2006 Share Posted August 27, 2006 Possible Storm Brewing A football weather advisory has been posted at Jordan-Hare for September 2nd, with a strong warning of footballs raining through the Auburn secondary and a slanted front smothering the Auburn offensive line. It should be a vicious storm originating in Pullman, Washington making itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s way to Auburn, Alabama. We all know the Cougars posted a 4-7 record last year but five of their losses were by four points or less. Last season, the Cougars were No. 8 in the nation in total offense averaging 489-yards and 33 points per game. Defense was the Achilles heel of the Cougars football team in 2005 and any improvement could flip-flop a 4-7 campaign into an 8-4 season should their offense continue to click. The Cougars were balanced on offense last season but they must replace Jerome Harrison at running back, who rushed for 1900-yards last season. Quarterback, Alex Brink returns behind center and is considered one of the top quarterbacks in the country. The Cougars are pumped for the 2006 season and their players are focused on the challenge of playing one of the best teams from the Southeastern Conference. Should the Auburn players take this game lightly, a repeat of the Capital One Bowl is more than likely. Previous OutingsÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ Over the past five years, the Auburn Tigers have competed against nineteen teams that averaged over 400-yards per game on offense during the course of an entire season. AuburnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s record against those teams was 8-11. Here are some other numbers to rememberÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ Ã‚Â· Auburn allowed 24 or more points in 12 of the 19 contests, posting a 2-10 record when allowing 24 or more points. Ã‚Â· Auburn surrendered at least three touchdowns in 12 of the 19 games. Ã‚Â· Auburn is 4-2 in games where the opponent passed for over 300-yards. Ã‚Â· Auburn is 4-2 in games the opponent is held to under 100-yards rushing. Ã‚Â· Auburn is 3-6 in games the opponent rushes for 150-yards or more. Ã‚Â· Auburn is 2-4 in games the opponent totals over 400-yards in offense. Ã‚Â· Six of AuburnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 11 defeats were by 14 or more points. Ã‚Â· AuburnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s margin of victory is 8.2 points with the most impressive victory coming against Georgia (24-6) in 2004. Ã‚Â· AuburnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s margin of defeat is 15.0 points with the worst defeat against the Florida Gators (38-7) during the 2000 season. As lethal as the Washington State passing game might be, the concern should still be centered on the Cougar running game. The majority of AuburnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s losses to quality offensive teams have come at the hands of a team with a good running game and a balanced offense. Auburn has normally faired well against one-dimensional opponents, especially those teams that featured the passing game. Over the past five years, Auburn has allowed an average of 379.5 yards and 23 points per game against Ã¢â‚¬Å“qualityÃ¢â‚¬Â offensive opponents. 14 of the 19 opponents have scored at least 20 points, which means the Auburn offense will be called upon to ride out the storm. AuburnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s opponents have compiled a 134.8 quarterback rating, completing 58% of their passes for an average of 250-yards passing per game. This also includes a 7.63 average per pass attempt and a 1.67 touchdown / interception ratio. Whether or not AuburnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s offense executes on opening night, Washington State will throw the ball at least 30-35 times. Odds are, the Cougars will easily pass for at least 250-yards but stopping the run will be the Tigers key to success. About Washington StateÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ The Cougars are coming off back-to-back losing seasons but they also strung together three consecutive 10-win seasons prior to their losing streak. Like most Pac-10 teams, the Cougars depend upon a wide-open offense to win games but they are one of the few who compliment their passing game with a solid running game. For those that question the CougarÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s defense, donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t forget AuburnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s offensive showing against an average Wisconsin defense in 2005. Entering preseason practice, the Cougars are still searching for a running back to replace Jerome Harrison and it just might be a committee of running backs in 2006. DeMaundray Woolridge (RB) could be the solution, posting two 100-yard rushing games, while averaging six yards per carry as a reserve last year. Alex Brink enters his third season as the primary starter with a career QB rating of 130.6. Over the past two seasons, Brink has performed very well considering the Cougars have consistently trailed on the scoreboard. Brink has passed for over 200-yards in 12 of 18 appearances, while throwing at least two touchdowns in 7 of 11 starts in 2005. Jason Hill remains the CougarÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s premier offensive weapon as well as being one of the top receivers in the nation. Hill has a career average of 19.6 yards per reception and 25 touchdown receptions entering his final year in Wazzou. With the focus on the CougarÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s wide receivers, Cody Boyd (TE) might be the CougarÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s secret weapon against the Tigers. Boyd has 60 career receptions, giving Brink a huge target to throw to against AuburnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s undersized linebackers. Washington StateÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s point production against Division I opponents with a winning record: 2001: 27.4 PPG 2002: 31.1 PPG 2003: 31.6 PPG 2004: 18.4 PPG 2005: 33.7 PPG Say what you will about Pac-10 defenses but the Cougars have shown the ability to score against solid competition in the past several years. Over the last five seasons, Auburn has surrendered an average of 23 points per game to quality offensive opponents. Over the last three years, that average has improved to 18.5 points per game. The only problem is that AuburnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s offense has averaged only 11.8 points per game during the same time period. For the most part, AuburnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s defense has played more consistently than the Tiger offense against quality opponents. Final thoughtsÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ Initially, the focus of the game will be on AuburnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s defense and Washington StateÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s high scoring offense but the game will be decided by AuburnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s offensive performance. One of the main reasons why AuburnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s defense has surrendered nearly 380-yards to quality opponents has been the struggle on the offensive side of the ball. In 11 of the 19 games over the last five years, AuburnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s offense has been held to under 20 points, placing more of a burden on the Tiger defense. Despite giving up 548-yards to the Badgers in the Capital One Bowl, Wisconsin only scored 24 points. Had the Auburn offense executed well, the game would have been competitive and WisconsinÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s offense would not have been on the field as often as they were. The Auburn Tigers gained over 400-yards total offense in four of the previously mentioned 19 games and were held to under 300-yards on nine occasions. Looking back at the games against Southern Cal, the Tiger defense played well enough to win both games. The Trojans gained 386-yards in 2002 and 315-yards in 2003. On the other hand, the Trojans held Auburn to 281-yards in 2002 and only 164-yards in 2003. Take away the two games against Louisiana Tech and Auburn has averaged 311-yards and 15 points per game against opponents with a quality offense. Based on AuburnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s recent production against good offensive teams and what Washington State returns in 2006, odds are the Cougars will have success moving the football against Auburn. With the addition of a new defensive coordinator and new faces at critical positions, Auburn will more than likely make a few mistakes on defense. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s essential the Auburn offense operate efficiently should these mistakes occur on defense. Any speculation Auburn will Ã¢â‚¬Å“blow outÃ¢â‚¬Â Washington State is just that, speculation. Recent history indicates Auburn should win the game but not in a blow out. Unless Alex Brink is unable to complete the game, the Cougars should have success throwing the ball. The key will be making them one-dimensional and taking away their running game. Coach Al Borges is very familiar with the Pac-10, Washington State in particular. He should be able to adjust his offense accordingly, should the Tiger defense struggle. If the Auburn Tiger offense executes well, Auburn should have no problem coming away with a victory. With the combination of the Cougars Ã¢â‚¬Å“big playÃ¢â‚¬Â ability and AuburnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s youth on defense, there is a high probability of Auburn giving up the big play. On the other side, there is every indication Auburn will be much more physical on defense with an emphasis placed on forcing turnovers. Alex Brink threw at least two interceptions in 5 of his 11 starts last year despite the fact the Cougars allowed only 18 quarterback sacks in 2005. Coach Will Muschamp has stressed the importance of forcing turnovers during spring and preseason practices. Last season, Auburn struggled against athletic quarterbacks and Brink will be a more stationary target compared to a D.J. Shockley. Coach Al Borges is arguably the best offensive coordinator in school history but Auburn was not the smooth running machine they were during the 2004 season. AuburnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s running game remains the foundation of the Tiger offense but it will be the passing game which will decide just how good the offense can be in 2006. With the loss of three starting receivers and Brandon CoxÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s poor performances when the running game was taken away, you can bet Washington State will sell out to stop the running game. Like Jason Campbell, Cox will have to prove he can carry the offense when the running game is taken away. Last year, Cox compiled a QB rating of 100.2 during the two games Auburn was held to under 100-yards rushing. Jason Campbell posted a 101.2 rating in the four games Auburn was held to under 100-yards rushing in 2003 but improved with a 165.7 rating in the two lowest rushing outputs during the 2004 season. Yes, there is a storm brewing for the eighth installment of Tommy TubervilleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Auburn Tigers and itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the 2006 Washington State Cougars. When the Tigers take to the field on September 2nd, they will be facing more than a team from the Pac-10 conference. They will be fighting all the ghosts from the past; including the assumption Auburn buckles under high expectations. The time has come to remove the Ã¢â‚¬Å“preseasonÃ¢â‚¬Â label and put it to rest. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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