Auburn-Ole Miss: What To Watch

At look a keys for the Auburn football Tigers as they take on Ole Miss at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday night.

Slowing Down Speed Racer

Senior running back Jeff Scott is one of the keys to the Ole Miss offense in 2013. Leading the team in rushing with 358 yards while averaging 8.3 yards per carry, Scott is a big-play threat of the highest order.

With two touchdowns this season, including a 73-yard punt return for a score, Scott is fourth in school history with 3,465 all-purpose yards and sixth with 2,162 rushing yards. Last season Scott had 207 all-purpose yards in the Ole Miss victory, including a 70-yard touchdown reception. Limiting Scott's big plays is a must for Auburn on Saturday night.

Getting Out Of The Gate

Scoring 46 points in the first half of the first two games this season, Auburn's offense hasn't performed nearly as well coming out of the gate against conference foes Mississippi State and LSU. Scoring 14 points in the first half against the Bulldogs and getting shut out in the first half by LSU, Auburn's offense needs a better start in the third conference game of the year.

Much of that falls on the shoulders of quarterback Nick Marshall. Completing 58.3 percent of his passes for 809 yards, Marshall has connected on just 26-52 passes in the first half this season. Getting that percentage up means more first downs, which in turn creates more tempo for the Tigers, something Gus Malzahn and Rhett Lashlee are looking for this week.

Eliminating Mistakes

Turnovers have been a problem for Auburn's offense this season with four fumbles and four interceptions in four games. Currently minus two in turnover margin, the Tigers aren't good enough to win if that pace keeps up. Throw in drive-killing penalties and it has been a frustrating first month for the offense. While the turnover numbers look bad, things could be much worse as Auburn has fumbled the ball 12 times, losing just four. That was a focus during the bye week for the offense and will be worth watching not only against Ole Miss, but the rest of the 2013 season.

Keep QBs In The Pocket

The quarterback run was damaging to Auburn's defense against both Arkansas State and Mississippi State so the Tigers will have to be prepared for that again this weekend against Ole Miss. Second on the team in rushing with 125 yards, Bo Wallace is a physical runner who is good in short yardage for the Rebels. The same is true of backup Barry Brunetti. Combined the duo has nearly a third of the total rushing yards for Ole Miss and five of the team's 10 touchdowns. Auburn's defense has to be aware of the running threat from both and make them win the game from the pocket.

Restoring The Order

Auburn leads Ole Miss all-time 27-10 and leads 13-2 in games played in Auburn. Since winning three in a row from 1949-1952, the Rebels have not won back-to-back games against the Tigers in the series.

Since the matchup became an annual event in 1990, Auburn has lost just five games to Ole Miss with two of those five have been in the last five seasons. Earning a win would not only get Auburn back on the winning track against the Rebels, but also all but ensure a bowl game in Malzahn's first season on the Plains.


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