All In Favor Of Execution:
Auburn’s struggles on offense, defense and special teams since the loss at Mississippi State have been numerous, making this week’s game against Samford more important as the Tigers get ready for next week’s Iron Bowl. Winning this game comfortably is obviously big, but it will be more important to execute in all three phases of the game and eliminating turnovers, penalties, alignment issues and missed tackles. Saturday night’s contest is a confidence game for Auburn and they will need to be feeling good about themselves heading into Thanksgiving.
That starts on defense with Coach Ellis Johnson’s group needing to play well on all three levels before the Tigers head up the road to Tuscaloosa. Particularly important will be shoring up a secondary that has become particularly porous the last month. It’s obvious that guys like Jonathon Mincy and Robenson Therezie have been less than 100 percent health-wise and it has impacted their play. Getting off to a good start and building a lead is a must for Auburn on Saturday night. If this game is in doubt heading to the second half it’s bad news for the Tigers in a number of ways.
Youth Is Served
Because of the need to perform well and rebuild confidence, this week's game is probably not an opportunity for wholesale changes in the lineup, but that doesn’t mean young backups won’t get their chance to play. On offense guys like Roc Thomas should get more touches this week with several second-team offensive linemen also possibly working into the rotation.
Tre Williams is a freshman from St. Paul's in Mobile.
On defense this week's game could be a great opportunity to get more snaps for T.J. Davis and Nick Ruffin along with others such as Tre Williams and Stephen Roberts. Roberts and Williams, both true freshmen, played a bigger role in Auburn’s defense early in the season, but have disappeared in recent weeks with Auburn's defensive struggles mounting.
It’s the final home game for a large group of seniors who have seen very highs and the lowest of lows during their careers at Auburn. Angelo Blackson, Quan Bray, Wirth Campbell, Reese Dismukes, Brandon Fulse, Forrest Hill, Jonathon Mincy, LaDarius Owens, Trovon Reed, Chad Slade, Robenson Therezie, C.J. Uzomah, Brian Walsh, Jeffrey Whitaker, Jermaine Whitehead, Gabe Wright and Patrick Young are all players who spent their entire college years with the Tigers.
When you throw in guys like Cameron Artis-Payne, Ben Bradley, Corey Grant and Nick Marshall it’s a group of players Auburn will definitely miss following this season. Going for their 20th win the last two seasons on Saturday, the Tigers have the opportunity to do some memorable things the rest of the season. With victories the last three games Auburn would win 10 games in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1988-1989.
Run It Up
Coming off the lowest offensive output of the Gus Malzahn Era at Auburn, you can expect the Tigers to want to be physical against Samford. A team giving up an average of 171 yards on the ground, the Bulldogs allowed 200 yards in the opener against TCU and 359 last week to the triple-option attack from The Citadel. Expect a heavy dose of Artis-Payne and Roc Thomas early and often as Auburn tries to get back to the up-tempo rhythm they’re wanting to get on offense.