at Auburn (4-5 Overall, 2-4 SEC)
|Rush Offense:||79th||130.0 YPG||Rush Offense:||195.6 YPG|
|Pass Offense:||98th||170.1 YPG||Pass Offense:||219.7 YPG|
|Total Offense:||104th||300.2 YPG||Total Offense:||415.2 YPG|
|Score Offense:||113th||17.6 PPG||Score Offense:||40.7 PPG|
|Rush Defense:||61st||139.9 YPG||Rush Defense:||147.3 YPG|
|Pass Defense:||10th||163.1 YPG||Pass Defense:||211.3 YPG|
|Total Defense:||27th||303.0 YPG||Total Defense:||358.7 YPG|
|Score Defense:||14th||15.9 PPG||Score Defense:||25.0 PPG|
Playing out of the Ohio Valley Conference, the Skyhawks are 7-2, bouncing back from a 4-7 season in 2007. Offensively, Tennessee-Martin has been extremely balanced this season, averaging 196 yards on the ground and 220 yards passing per game. Brandyn Young leads the Skyhawks in rushing averaging 99.8 yards per game in the last five games. Young has shared the workload with Miguel Barnes, who has posted four games of 60 yards or more rushing. Junior quarterback Cade Thompson is having a sensational season with 18 touchdown passes. Thompson has also completed 59 percent of his passes for 9.2 yards per pass attempt. Mike Hicks has already caught 40 passes for more than 600 yards and has seven touchdowns on the season.
Starting linebackers Josh Bey and Brent Acker are the Skyhawks' two leading tacklers. Bey currently leads the Ohio Valley Conference with 13 stops behind the line. Ray Williams leads a Skyhawk defense that is currently No. 1 in their conference with 23 sacks, registering four of his own. Dontrell Miller is a dangerous corner with four interceptions on the season, including two returned for a touchdown. Miller also returned three fumbles for touchdowns this season. Excluding sack yardage, the Skyhawks have allowed 191.0 yards rushing per game.
Tennessee-Martin has averaged 41.2 yards per punt but has connected on only four of eight field goal attempts. As a team UTM has averaged 12.8 yards per punt return and 20.9 yards per kick return. The Skyhawks have returned one punt and one kickoff for a touchdown this season.
Inside the Numbers...
* Coming into this season Auburn under Tommy Tuberville is 47-0 against teams with a losing record or from a non-major conference. The average score in those 47 games was 34-11.
* Auburn is 24-0 against teams from a non-major conference from 1999-2008 with an average score of 40-11.
* Auburn currently has gone seven consecutive games without scoring more than two offensive touchdowns in a game. The last time this happened was in 1966, when Auburn finished the season 4-6.
* Auburn has allowed 183 yards rushing per game in the last six outings with an average of 5.1 yards per carry.
* Auburn has gone seven games in a row without scoring 30 or more points. The last time this happened was in 2006-2007 when the Tigers went eight straight games before scoring 55 against New Mexico State.
* Through nine games the Auburn offense has taken 615 snaps but only 152 plays have been part of a scoring drive. This leaves 75 percent of Auburn's offensive snaps resulting in zero points.
* In the last six games Auburn has scored on 56 percent of its red zone possessions while the defense has allowed the opponent to score on 88 percent.
* Last week against Ole Miss the Auburn offense finally averaged more than six ards per play on first down. Since 1992, Auburn has averaged 423 yards and 33 points per game when averaging better than six yards per play on first down and 288 yards and 18 points per game when held under 4.5 yards on first down.
* Since becoming the full time starter at quarterback, the Auburn offense directed by Kodi Burns has converted 45 percent on their third-down conversions. Auburn had converted on only 29 percent in the previous seven games.
Could this be the week Neil Caudle gets to show what he can do?
Based on Tennessee-Martin's competition it would be pointless to compare scoring margins. It should be noted the Skyhawks were destroyed by South Florida this season, 56-7. South Florida has averaged 418 yards per game but gained 520 yards against Tennessee-Martin. Last season Southern Miss defeated the Skyhawks 35-13, totaling 432 yards of offense including 310 on the ground. South Florida rushed for 300 yards against Tennessee-Martin this year.
The Auburn offense showed some life in the second half of the Ole Miss game but three costly interceptions translated to only seven points from 319 yards gained in the last two quarters. Kodi Burns has shown potential to be a good quarterback but greatness will only come with consistency, something the entire offense has lacked all season. The lack of consistency is the direct result of Auburn's inability to run the football, averaging only 93 yards per game in the last six games. Poor offensive line play and injuries to the running backs has been difficult to overcome.
The Auburn roster is plagued with injuries, which means the coaching staff will hope to clear the bench this Saturday. With Georgia and Alabama looming on the horizon, several key starters need to be rested, exposing an already questionable defense. Auburn should be able to counter this deficiency with a strong running game against a weak run-defense. It would be great to see Eric Smith and Tristan Davis receiving the majority of carries to rest Ben Tate, Brad Lester and Mario Fannin for conference play. Auburn should be able to out-man the Skyhawks, but the play calling on offense should not be so bland if the offense is to continue to improve. Kodi Burns needs plenty of work and every snap he can take within reason should be geared towards his improvement.
If Auburn is to have any chance of winning its last two conference games it will need big plays on offense, which will need to come from the passing game. Auburn has an opportunity to work on their vertical passing game, improving Burns timing with his wide receivers. Rod Smith is expected to be held out this week, allowing Chris Slaughter the opportunity for another big game. It would be nice to see James Swinton step up to finish out the season on a high note. Auburn should win this weekend and a victory is so badly needed for an ailing team's confidence, even against an inferior opponent.
Auburn 38, Tennessee-Martin 10