Stat Tiger: Analyzing Louisiana Tech at AU

Stuart Carter crunches the numbers and predicts what will happen as the Auburn football team takes on the Bulldogs of Louisiana Tech for Homecoming on the Plains.

Louisiana Tech (2-2 at Auburn (3-0)

Series Record: Auburn leads 11-0-1

Last Meeting: (2009) Auburn 37, Louisiana Tech

About the teams:

Skip Holtz is in his second year at Louisiana Tech. This year marks his 15th year as a head coach, compiling a 94-81-0 record overall. Holtz is 6-10 at Louisiana Tech. Gus Malzahn is 24-5 all time and 15-2 as head coach at Auburn.

Auburn is coming off a road victory over the nationally ranked Kansas State Wildcats. Louisiana Tech is coming off a disappointing loss to Northwestern State.

Nick Marshall is 14-2 as Auburn’s starting quarterback. He currently has a QB rating of 126.8 and has rushed for 168 yards. His No. 1 target has been Duke Williams, who has caught 21 passes for 324 yards and two touchdowns.

Cameron Artis-Payne leads Auburn in rushing with 352 yards followed by Corey Grant with 203 yards.

Auburn has seven defenders with double-digit tackles, led by safety Johnathan Ford with 21 stops. Montravius Adams leads Auburn in tackles for loss with four.

Jermaine Whitehead and Trovon Reed are tied for the team lead with two interceptions.Whitehead, who is suspended, is not expected to play vs. Louisiana Tech.

Auburn’s Daniel Carlson is 4-5 in field goals and has 13 touchbacks on 18 kickoffs. Carlson has averaged 44.1 yards per punt as a dual-threat kicker.

Daniel Carlson is a redshirt freshman for the Tigers.

The Bulldog offense is directed by senior quarterback Cody Sokol, who boasts a 143.1 efficiency rating. He has thrown for 252 yards per game and has 10 touchdown passes on the season. His leading receiver is Sterling Griffin, who has caught 19 passes for 280 yards.

When Louisiana Tech takes to the ground look for Kenneth Dixon to be the primary weapon. He enters the game with 404 yards rushing and five touchdowns. The junior has more than 2,500 career rushing yards.

The Bulldogs have seven players with at least 12 tackles this season. Kentrell Brice leads the team with 26. Vernon Butler leads in tackles for loss with 2 1/2 and Xavier Woods has a team-high two interceptions.

Inside the Numbers...

*This will be the 13th meeting between the two programs with Auburn holding an average score advantage of 33-14 in the series.

*Though the Bulldogs are 9-70-2 against teams currently in the Southeastern Conference, Louisiana Tech does hold a 3-2 record over Alabama.

*Louisiana Tech's last victory over a Southeastern Conference opponent came against Ole Miss in 2011 with a dominating 27-7 victory.

*Though Auburn has not lost in this series, three of the last seven meetings have been decided by 10 points or less. During the last eight meetings Auburn averaged 460 yards and 39 points per game while allowing 351 yards and 20 points.

*Auburn is currently No. 11 nationally in run offense and will face the No. 97 run defense. The Bulldogs are No. 61 in rushing and will face an Auburn defense ranked No. 11.

*Auburn is No. 36 in pass efficiency and will face the No. 26 pass efficiency defense. The Bulldogs are No. 56 in pass efficiency and will face a defense ranked No. 32.

*Auburn should be able to control the line of scrimmage this Saturday. The Tigers are No. 18 in preventing tackles for loss and the Bulldogs are currently No. 97. Auburn is No. 65 in tackles for loss while Tech is No. 98.

*If third downs become a focal point this weekend look for the Tigers to have the edge. Auburn is No. 8 nationally in producing first downs with its passing on third downs while the Bulldogs are No. 89.

*Auburn’s offense under Malzahn has averaged 532 yards and 49 points against opponents from a non-major conference.

Keys to victory...

*Auburn’s secondary will be challenged this weekend. The Bulldogs are No. 25 in generating plays of 15 yards or more in their passing game and the Auburn defense is No. 48 in allowing them.

*It will be vital for Auburn to reestablish its offensive identity by running the football. After being held to 128 yards rushing in game three, Auburn should fare better this week. Tech is ranked No. 61 against the run.

*Auburn must improve its passing, especially on first down. The Tigers are No. 117 in the nation completing only 50 percent of their throws on first down.

*It will be important for Auburn to tackle well, which it has done this season. The Bulldogs' pass offense has prospered with yards after contact this season.

*If Auburn continues to be inconsistent with its passing this game could be much closer than it should be. Auburn cannot afford to be looking ahead to LSU.

Final Word...

Louisiana Tech will be Auburn’s last opportunity to address some of the issues experienced on the field before the return to league play next week. The offensive line is still attempting to come together as smoothly functioning unit and the Tigers have been inconsistent in their passing game, both throwing and catching.

Auburn’s talent and depth should be enough to secure a victory over the Bulldogs, but Malzahn is still in search of improvement. Game four should be the opportunity needed to reestablish the offensive identity, something Kansas State was able to take away. Offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee is still waiting for his group to put it all together in one game.

The Auburn offense has shown it is talented based on its overall numbers, but there are some concerns. As much talent as Auburn possesses the Tigers have failed to produce explosive plays at the rate they should be. Auburn is currently No. 41 in generating run plays of 20-plus yards and pass plays of 25-plus yards. The Tigers are ranked No. 33 in touchdown ratio.

In terms of yards-to-touchdown ratio, Auburn is No. 41 nationally and No. 8 in the conference. This means the yardage gained thus far has not produced the number of points Auburn should be scoring. Yardage is great but at the end of the day it is scoring that truly counts.

Duke Williams is Auburn's leading receiver this season.

Look for the AU coaching staff to utilize this game to evaluate some of the younger players who will provide depth for the remaining season. On offense Auburn needs for someone other than Williams to make big plays. The juco transfer has generated nine impact plays while Ricardo Louis and Sammie Coates have combined for just one.

On defense Auburn has played a lot of youth in the secondary and the group will receive plenty of tests against a Tech offense expected to throw the football 30-35 times. Auburn should improve to 4-0 after Saturday's game, but the coaching staff is searching for “team” improvement. Auburn 45, Louisiana Tech 17.

Around the Southeastern Conference:

Georgia over Tennessee

Kentucky over Vanderbilt

Texas A&M over Arkansas

South Carolina over Missouri

Ole Miss over Memphis

LSU over New Mexico State

Season Record:Record: 35-6

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