This week the Tigers may face one of their toughest tests from an Alabama offense that is physical running the football and also in the passing game. Led by senior quarterback John Parker Wilson, a tandem of power running backs, and talented freshman receiver Julio Jones, Alabama comes in undefeated. After facing Georgia the last time out and seeing Matthew Stafford up close, junior cornerback Walt McFadden says much like the Bulldogs, Alabama's success is three-fold but begins at quarterback.
"They have an explosive offense," McFadden says. "They are a balanced team right now. From what I've seen they've got great running backs and a couple of great receivers. Their quarterback is putting the ball on the money. He just as efficient as Stafford."
While his numbers don't blow you away, just 1,775 yards with eight touchdowns and five interceptions, Wilson has been exactly what you expect from a fifth-year senior quarterback with multiple years of starting experience and that is poised. McFadden says all you have to do is look how much better Kodi Burns is after just a few games to see what it means to have a guy like Wilson running the show.
"Just by watching our quarterbacks they've done a lot of learning this year," McFadden says. "Just by not being experienced you make the little mistakes when you know you've got two high safeties or something like that. Playing an experienced quarterback he'll look you off and make you think the ball is not coming to your man and then bam there comes the ball. That's what kind of guy I think Parker is."
Even with Wilson and the running game coming on, perhaps the key to Alabama's success has been the play of Jones outside. Leading the team with 43 catches for 687 yards and four touchdowns, Jones presents a physical challenge for defensive backs. McFadden says that's what stands out about him heading into Saturday.
"He's a physical receiver," McFadden says. "From what I've seen and all the games I've broken down he's a great receiver. I can't give him any room. I have to be close to him.
"I have played against fast receivers to physical receivers to tall receivers," McFadden adds. "That gave me an idea of what kind of guy he is. He's a guy with all three things. I expect a lot out of him on game day so I've been practicing very hard for him."
McFadden and fellow junior cornerback Jerraud Powers could be the key for Auburn if the Tigers hope to pull off the upset against the Crimson Tide. With so much attention given to Alabama's running game, the two will likely have plenty of chances to make plays in Saturday's game.
If that happens few players will be happier than Powers. A native of Decatur, Powers has several friends on Alabama's team and McFadden says he's constantly talking about the Alabama game. Several years ago McFadden says he didn't know what to think about Powers and his love for the Iron Bowl, but he says now that he's had a taste he understands exactly why for this state this game is of utmost importance.
"At first I used to think this rivalry was just another game," McFadden says. "As the years went on it got so big that I felt like I was from Alabama and I chose the Auburn way to go...it's big and it has grown on me a lot."
The Tigers will travel to Birmingham on Friday and the take a bus trip to Tuscaloosa for Saturday's game at Bryant-Denny Stadium that will be televised nationally on CBS at 2:30 p.m. CST.