What To Watch: Taking Care Of Business

The Auburn football team (6-1, 3-1) faces Florida Atlantic (2-5, 1-4) in a 6:30 p.m. start Saturday night at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

How Will Auburn Handle Success?

The toughest thing for a team to deal with can sometimes be success. There is nothing tougher to get over than a big win and that's exactly what the Auburn Tigers have facing them this week.

Taking down Johnny Football and the Texas A&M Aggies on the road last week in College Station, Auburn has gone from the team not a lot of the college football world was talking about to the one that is the talk of the town.

One thing the Tigers have going is that they are a hungry football team coming off a three-win season in 2012. With the new coaching staff that has preached one day at a time since Gus Malzahn arrived on campus last December, Auburn should take care of business this weekend and if the Tigers do so with ease then it will be a very good sign for the rest of the season.

Youth Is Served

Auburn has played true freshmen and other young players on both sides of the ball this season, but Coach Ellis Johnson and his staff have no choice but to get even more guys involved in the defense this week. With Ryan White moving to safety because of the injury to Josh Holsey it leaves just sophomore Jonathan Jones along with converted running back and true freshman Johnathan Ford as the top backups at cornerback.

The situation at safety isn't much better as White and Trent Fisher are the top two reserves behind starters Jermaine Whitehead and Ryan Smith.

With his redshirt a thing of the past, it would be a good time to see what Khari Harding can do. The same is true of Brandon King as well. Both could help provide some punch at safety down the road and with five games left the more capable bodies the Tigers have then the better off they'll be.

Imposing Their Will

Auburn's offensive line is the locomotive that leads the way to what has become one of the most powerful running games in school history through seven weeks of the season. Currently averaging 300.1 yards per game on the ground, the 2013 Tigers trail only the 1985 team (312.5 ypg) in single season rushing yards. With 20 rushing touchdowns they are only eight away from breaking into the Top 10 for a single season in that department.

Led by junior center Reese Dismukes and sophomore left tackle Greg Robinson, the offensive line has made major strides since last season. There is no question the change in offensive system has made a big impact on the production, but the maturity of the front five and its play under Coach J.B. Grimes has been the big catalyst.

Facing an undersized defensive front from Florida Atlantic this Saturday will give the Tigers another opportunity to establish the running attack and dominate the line of scrimmage in order to keep the momentum rolling into the final four weeks of the season.

Auburn gets a hat on a hat to allow Tre Mason to break through the line for good yardage

Defense Faces Another Playmaker

He's not Johnny Football, but FAU quarterback Jaquez Johnson could present plenty of problems for the Auburn defense on Saturday night. In six starts this season he has completed 100-165 passes for 1,060 yards with six touchdowns and five interceptions. He has also added 346 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. His biggest game came in a 42-35 loss in overtime to Middle Tennessee when he threw for 321 yards and accounted for five total touchdowns.

Where Is The Tight End?

Coming into the season one of the positions of strength was at tight end where juniors C.J. Uzomah and Brandon Fulse returned as two of most experienced played on offense. With both missing games this season and the offense more of a ground control attack, Uzomah has just three catches for 48 yards and a touchdown while Fulse has just one catch for five yards. Because of the success the Tigers are having running the ball, it should allow one or both to become a bigger weapon for Gus Malzahn and Rhett Lashlee moving forward.

The good news is that fullback Jay Prosch has picked up some of the slack in that department, catching five passes for 95 yards this season, including a 56-yard rumble last week against Texas A&M. Throw in a guy like Melvin Ray, who can play a similar hybrid role in the offense, and the Tigers have plenty of options in the short passing game, now they just have to take advantage of them.

Big Play Sammie

While he is still having the occasional drop, sophomore wide receiver Sammie Coates is starting to show the athleticism that made him an important signee for the Tigers three years ago. With 18 receptions for 423 yards (23.5 yards per catch) and two touchdowns, Coates has shown the ability to consistently run by the opposing secondary for the deep ball, but has also become a more physical runner after the catch.

If Coates can continue his improvement and players like Ricardo Louis, Quan Bray and Marcus Davis keep coming on, this Auburn receiving corps has a chance to do some big things down the stretch.


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