This is a big test coming up on Saturday night for Coach Gus Malzahn’s Auburn football team as he takes his Tigers on the road to play against a Top 10 opponent at LSU. I think LSU has a lot of talent and is tough to beat at home, but saying that I don’t think this an unbeatable opponent for Auburn.
For Auburn to win this game the defense has to do a good job of getting the LSU offense off the field on third downs. Auburn has to keep quarterback Zach Mettenberger, Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry off the field as much as possible because those guys are capable of producing big plays. Beckham and Landry are the best pair of receivers on the same team that I have seen so far this year.
I really think Auburn will be able to score on LSU this year. The question for Coach Malzahn’s team is will they have enough points to win at Tiger Stadium on Saturday night? How many points the visitors need is largely dependent on how well the defense performs on Saturday night because LSU’s offense is a lot more productive than the group that scored just 12 points at Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium last season.
A plus for Auburn this season is its kicking game. The Tigers have been really good on special teams and I don’t expect that to change. A big play or two from those units could go a long way toward helping spark an upset at Tiger Stadium.
Another plus for Auburn is that different players are stepping up for this team. I hated to see Chris Davis get hurt and miss the Mississippi State game last week, but I thought Ryan White came in as a starter and did a really good job.
Ryan White is a senior cornerback who also contributes on special teams as a holder.
Offensively, I really liked what I saw from young number 80, Marcus Davis, who knows how to catch the football and what to do with it when he has it in his hands. I think that freshman is going to make the other receivers better with how he is performing.
The Tigers need more guys to keep stepping up week after week. Against LSU for Auburn to be able to win on the road the Tigers need to keep pushing forward when they have the football. This group is so close to making more big plays, which are a major part of Coach’s Malzahn’s offense. Against an opponent like LSU, when the opportunities are there to hit on big plays the Tigers can’t afford to miss opportunities. Just about every time Auburn has thrown a deep ball this season there has been a receiver open with a chance to make a big gain. If the Tigers can hit on a higher percentage of those plays it will make a big difference.
I think this Auburn team has gotten better each week, but this is still not a real efficient unit offensively and that needs to change this week to beat a talented opponent on the road. Yes, LSU will be tough to beat, but I still think there are questions about how good each team is going into this SEC West matchup that should give us a lot better read on where they stand.
(If you have a question or a subject you would like me to write about in future columns, you can email it to PatDye@autigers.com.)
Editor’s Note: This is part of a series of columns that College Football Hall of Fame member Pat Dye is writing for AUTigers.com about the game he played and coached. An All-American player at Georgia and one of the top head coaches in SEC history at Auburn, he also served as a head coach at East Carolina and Wyoming. Dye writes three columns for AUTigers.com--The Dye-Log, the Dye-Gest and Pat’s Picks.
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