Passing Game The Key For Tigers In Iron Bowl

Auburn's success throwing the football may just determine the outcome of Friday's Iron Bowl game against Alabama.

Auburn, Ala.--The old adage in football hasn't changed over the years. The team that runs the ball the best and stops the run usually wins the game. That will likely be the case when Auburn faces Alabama at 1:30 p.m. today, but the biggest indicator for the Tigers may come in the passing game.

In seven wins this season, Auburn has averaged 270.5 passing yards per game with 19 total passing touchdowns. In four losses the number drops to just 136.75 yards and only three scores through the air. Facing an Alabama defense that allows just 70 yards per game on the ground, the Tigers will be hard pressed to grind out yards on the ground meaning Chris Todd needs to have a big game if the Tigers hope to pull off the upset.

While Alabama's defense is strong against the run, it's no slouch when it comes to defending the pass. Playing physical on the corners with Javier Arenas and Kareem Jackson and at safety with Justin Woodall and Mark Barron, the Crimson Tide secondary has definitely caught Auburn's attention on video.

"You've got to give it to them," sophomore wide receiver Darvin Adams said. "They are pretty good on defense. They like to man up on the outside. All I have been watching is the corners and safeties. They do a pretty good job of technique and things of that nature. Coach Trooper (Taylor) is teaching us the right things to do with that and we're getting better every day."

Arenas is the playmaker in the secondary with a pair of interceptions as well as leading the team with 11 tackles for a loss. He's also added four sacks and is third on the team with 57 total tackles. Barron is second on the team with 61 tackles and has a team-high six interceptions. Senior Tommy Trott said Alabama's ability to play the football is what stands out to him.

"They are physical," Trott said. "A lot of times you see guys in the secondary not have very good ball skills, but that's not true at all with Alabama. They cover you and they're not just trying to cover you, they're trying to go up and make a play on the ball. They'll knock it down and often times they'll end up with an interception. It's a good group. They put pressure on receivers.

"They play a lot of man to man. They trust their secondary to be able to play man to man. At the same time a guy like Javier Arenas hasn't had too much trouble blitzing off the edge and making plays in the backfield. We're going to have to take advantage of some of that man to man and when they are blitzing. A lot of teams haven't been able to hurt them like that, but hopefully we'll have the ability to do that."

Making it easier for the secondary is a defensive front that has the ability to get to the quarterback. Marcell Dareus leads the front four with six and a half sacks, part of 28 on the season for the Crimson Tide. Junior Kodi Burns said the challenge will be a big one for the Tigers, but he's ready for the challenge.

"Their defensive line gets a lot of pressure, but the biggest difference is the secondary," Burns said. "The secondary does a great job of grabbing and holding and harassing receivers. They do a great job of getting their hands on you in man coverage. What they're saying is that they feel like they can cover people. They're really good and really talented. That's the kind of ball they play.

"It's definitely a challenge for us, but that's why we play the game," Burns added. "It's going to be fun. We really haven't been challenged like that all year. We're going to see what we're about."

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