Both teams played different games last week, as Auburn struggled against Utah State at home and Memphis (coming off a 1-11 year) got a 59-14 beat-down handed to them from Miss. State.
State walks into this game as favorites, and rightly so. They played a much more convincing game last week and didn't seem to struggle against Memphis. Auburn was the opposite, as they would have lost the game if it weren't for a beautifully concocted onside kick, in which Auburn recovered and won the game from.
But it's not as if Auburn will walk into this game without a hope in hell, you do remember who we are playing right? Yes, Mississippi State, a team who we have practically dominated forever so don't get all nancy on me and act like we are walking into Baton Rouge or The Swamp. We are at home, and still have a punchers chance to win. Last week was not a positive sign as to where we are now, I said last week I thought we would probably lose this game but I also mentioned I would probably feel better about this game as the week goes on.
The truth is, if Auburn plays like they did last week then they won't win the game, it's as simple as that. We got pushed around in the trenches, displayed poor technique in several areas (particularly tackling) and got caught out of position quite frequently. State have enough weapons on offense to take advantage of that which is why we need to come out this week looking like a different team. Practice reports from this week have been positive which I guess is a good sign considering the circumstances. We don't have to be flawless but we can't make too many mistakes either. I think we may see more man coverage this week which is likely a good thing if we want to get enough stops on defense.
Good alignment, physical play and sufficient tackling can't hurt either.
I don't want to repeat what I have already said about the team, because I feel like I am wasting space. The coaches know what to do and I trust them to make the right calls this week and for the players to play a much more physical, hard-nosed football game (gosh, I sound like Chizik don't I?).
So what is Auburn's game-plan? Simple, just try and limit the run game of Miss. State. If Ballard can have limited holes to run through they will be forced to pass and we know that Relf is not a great passer. Auburn needs to quit making quarterbacks look like Joe Montana and start making them look like JaMarcus Russell. Get some pressure, get in their faces, be physical, ruthless etc. etc. You get the drift. I'm not worried about the offense because we will score in every game we play. It's almost a guarantee.
I'd like for less rotation this week so we could gain a team of those on a hotstreak. For instance, if a defensive-tackle is playing well in the middle we shouldn't just take him out. Keep him in there for a few more snaps so we can get vital stops. I understood last week was Auburn just trying to get younger guys reps, because to quote Coach Pelton they have to "grow up". Rightly so, because that is how you build depth.
The good news is that Auburn has tons of room to improve. The team is very young and the more experience they gain the better. I want the coaches to challenge the team and prove that they belong on a team like Auburn. We don't settle for mediocrity and Chizik knows it.
We don't have many home games this season so I feel like we need to make the most of every one. The fans need to be loud, proud and cheer on the team for 60 minutes. If you are going then act like we are the best fans in the country, because you know we are!
After thinking about the game extensively, I want to give my most real, yet Auburn fanned prediction I can give. I think we turn up the volume this week and come away winning 31-28. I can see it ending up like Clemson like year with it being close until the very end. I wish we could play Auburn Football and win the game with ease, but unfortunately it isn't that easy. I can see us getting the vital stops on defense and get more done on offense but you just never know with Auburn. That's the exciting, yet scary thing.
Stay loud, stay proud and stay true.
Just because I'm cruel, remember this?