StatTiger: Tennessee Tech at Auburn Preview

Stuart Carter (StatTiger) gives a preview of Auburn's Homecoming against Tennessee Tech on Saturday at 1:30 p.m.

Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles (4-5 Overall, 2-5 OVC)

Offensive Numbers: 366 yards per game (161 rushing, 205 passing), 33 points per game
Defensive Numbers: 378 yards per game (150 rushing, 228 passing), 31 points per game

Record Against Auburn: First Meeting

64th Total Offense
33rd Scoring Offense
66th Total Defense
82nd Scoring Defense

The Golden Eagles are 4-5 on the season, coming off back-to-back 4-7 seasons. Their last winning season was in 2004 when they compiled a 6-5 record. Tennessee Tech is currently 2-5 in Ohio Valley Conference play, traveling out of the league to take on the Auburn Tigers. After starting off the season 4-1, Tennessee Tech has lost its last four games, allowing 43 points per game during the current losing streak.

Veteran coach Watson Brown was hired this season to bring his extensive coaching experience to Tennessee Tech in an attempt to rebuild a struggling football program. Coach Brown has installed a balanced offensive attack as the Golden Eagles are averaging 161 yards on the ground and 205 through the air.

Last time out...

The Golden Eagles are coming off a heart-breaking 59-52 loss to Samford. The teams combined for 885 yards and 47 first downs. Samford scored the winning touchdown with only 52 seconds left in the game. Tennessee Tech is two plays from being 6-3, but the breaks have not gone the Golden Eagles' way. Losing their starting quarterback during their winning streak was a huge loss.

The Auburn Tigers picked up their fourth conference victory of the season with a 17-3 victory over the Ole Miss Rebels. The Tigers rolled up 420 yards on offense with 231 on the ground, but struggled when it came to finishing their offensive possessions. The Auburn defense played very well, moving back up to No. 8 in the country in total defense and No. 9 in scoring defense.

About the Golden Eagles...

The heart of the Tennessee Tech offense is senior running back Derek White, who has compiled 1051 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns. He also has 26 receptions on the season, making him the Golden Eagles' second leading receiver. The leading receiver for Tennessee Tech is Larry Shipp with 42 receptions on the season, giving him 184 during his career. Quarterback, Lee Sweeney has recently come back from an injury after missing three games. Sweeney has completed more than 60 percent of his passes for a QB rating of 134.0.

Tennessee Tech has two defenders with more than 80 tackles on the season but both players are from the secondary, which explains why the Golden Eagles have struggled on defense. Maurice Smith has 87 tackles and Broderick Jamison has 85 stops. Up front, Tennessee Tech's Geoffrey Woods and John Jackson both have 8.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage. As a team, the Golden Eagles are 31st in the nation in tackles behind the line and second in conference.

Place kicker Justin Kraemer is nearly perfect with 10 of 11 field goals on the season. Kraemer also doubles as the punter, averaging 39.1 yards and dropping seven inside the opponents' 20. Eight of his 33 punts have been over 50 yards. Shipp is very dangerous on kick returns with a 31.4-average, taking three to the house this season. Bryon Ottrix has a solid 12.2-yard average on punt returns.

Fannin could have an opportunity on Saturday for more playing time from the tailback position.

About Auburn...

Since tossing six interceptions in Auburn's first three games, Brandon Cox has completed 65 percent of his passes with five touchdowns and only one pick. Rod Smith remains Cox's primary target, hauling in 41 passes for five touchdowns this season. Montez Billings continues to become more involved in the passing game with 18 receptions on the season. The combination of Ben Tate, Brad Lester and Mario Fannin has given Auburn 1,394 yards on the ground along with a 4.8-yard average per carry.

Chris Evans leads the Tigers with 53 tackles on the season and Antonio Coleman has 13 tackles behind the line. This includes a team leading six quarterback sacks. Patrick Lee is fifth in the SEC and 35th in the nation with four interceptions. Lee is also one of five players with at least 40 tackles on the season. Overall, the Auburn defense has made 54 tackles behind the line, which is 72nd nationally and ninth in the SEC.

Punter Ryan Shoemaker is 18th nationally and second in the conference with a 43.6-yard average per punt. Wes Byrum has connected on 13 of his 17 field goal attempts, but has been hampered with an injury. Only seven of Auburn's 46 kickoffs have resulted in a touchback, which has been a consistent problem all season.

Final Thoughts...

Auburn plays its final non-conference game of the season and it could not have come at a better time. After nine straight games and a grueling road schedule, the Tigers needed the break this Saturday. This will be the only game of the season Auburn can basically show up and win, but the coaching staff will certainly want more.

The primary objectives this week will be staying healthy and playing the majority of the roster. Cox bruised his right shoulder against Ole Miss, but will start and play against Tennessee Tech. Hopefully the coaching staff will limit his playing time this week with Georgia and Alabama around the corner. Expect to see a lot more of Kodi Burns this week along with Blake Field and possibly Neil Caudle.

Look for Auburn to keep it very simple with 50-plus plays coming on the ground. Auburn coaches will want to secure the victory and speed up the game as much as possible. Fannin will get a few more carries this week and don't be surprised to see all three backs rush for over 100-yards or at least close to it. Putting things in perspective, Eastern Illinois defeated Tennessee Tech, 45-24 and Purdue crushed Eastern Illinois, 52-7.

It might not be an entertaining game for the fans unless you enjoy a lopsided victory against a lesser opponent but it remains a much-needed break for the team. It also allows some of the younger players and backups the opportunity to play in an actual game. It would be nice to see Cox limited to 2-3 series at the most and for Burns to run the conventional offense.

Auburn 55, Tennessee Tech 7

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