Pregame Breakdown: Tennessee vs. Auburn

ITAT takes a look at some of our keys for Saturday's game between Auburn (3-1) and Tennessee (1-2).

When Tennessee Has The Ball: The key for the Vols will be using the tailback tandem of Arian Foster and Montario Hardesty effectively. This season in three games the duo has combined for 342 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. Together they are averaging better than five yards per carry, but are only averaging just over 20 carries per game. If that number is closer to or over 30 then it means Tennessee is in the game and not having to depend on turnover prone quarterback Jonathan Crompton.

When Auburn Has The Ball: Again it comes down to the play of junior quarterback Chris Todd. Last week against LSU, Todd had a solid night with 250 yards and a touchdown through the air. The key for the Tigers will be throwing the football on more on first down. Last week Auburn threw just two passes on first down in the first half, completing one for nine yards.

That number increased in the second half as Todd completed 5-8 for 36 yards and was sacked once. For the game Todd was 6-10 for 45 yards on first down. On the flip side the Tigers ran the ball 16 times on first down against LSU for a total of just 32 yard. Success on first down throwing the football should equal more success in the running game down the road.

Tennessee Player to Watch: An easy call to pick Eric Berry here. The sophomore has been a ball hawk for the Volunteers since he arrived on campus. In 17 career games Berry has accumulated 104 total tackles, but the most impressive part of his game is taking the ball away from the offense. He has seven career interceptions, two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble already in his short career.

Auburn Player to Watch: The missing person for the Tigers has been sophomore do-everything player Mario Fannin. A weapon on offense, Fannin has been relegated to spot duty at wide receiver while he recovers from offseason shoulder surgery, a surgery that prompted a move from running back to receiver. In four games Fannin has carried the ball four times for 36 yards, caught five passes for 24 yards, and returned a kickoff for 24 yards. With Auburn looking for playmakers, Fannin needs that many touches in a single game.

Something You May Not Know About The Vols: Senior tailback Arian Foster is the current workhorse of the SEC. He is the active career leader with 558 carries for 2,627 rushing yards and he also has 3,430 all-purpose yards. He is currently sixth on Tennessee's career rushing list just 461 yards behind Travis Henry. His is third for all-purpose yards behind Stanley Morgan and Willie Gault.

Something You May Not Know About The Tigers: Auburn has won three in a row in the series against Tennessee with wins in 2003 (28-21), and twice in 2004 (34-10, 38-28). This is the fifth time in school history that Auburn has owned a three-game streak against the Vols with the last coming from 1982-1984. The Tigers will be looking to change the trend though as they haven't beaten Tennessee four consecutive times on the football field since doing so from 1961-1964.

The Difference: Auburn's defense. This season Tennessee has struggled when falling behind opponents and Auburn's defense hasn't allowed the opposition to get going in the first half. In four games the Tigers have allowed just three total points with LSU's 105 yards the most they have surrendered in the opening 30 minutes. If Auburn can keep the defense strong in the first half it will go a long way towards a victory on Saturday.


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