Scouting Report: Auburn Offense

As far as I'm concerned, the worst thing that happened when the SEC changed from one common East/West opponent to two was the end of the Florida/Auburn rivalry. This was my favorite game throughout the '80s and '90s. There were some great Gator wins, gut wrenching setbacks and a conga line of superb players on both sides of the field. It was special.

This isn't a great Auburn team, entering The Swamp with two losses already. Despite a 34-point second half explosion against New Mexico State, Auburn has really struggled on offense. They scored just 60 points in their first three games and averaged just more than 300 yards.

The cause of the trouble primarily is the offensive line, which has done a poor job of protecting the quarterback. They made two changes in the line last week which seemed to help. Two freshmen, left tackle Ryan Pugh and right guard Chaz Ramsey stepped into the lineup and seemed to help things. However, this week will be a better barometer than New Mexico State.

Auburn usually has great running backs, but they don't have greatness back there. They do have goodness with Ben Tate and Mario Fannin both of whom have good size and speed. Fannin might have a chance to be a special player. The two combine for 137 yards a game.

The receiving corps is just okay with one exception. Rodgeriqus Smith (11 cathces, 23.0 yards per catch, 2 TDs) is similar to Mike Wallace of Ole Miss and can burn you deep. Prechae Rodgriguez (9, 12.0) gives them a big target on the outside and tight end Gabe McKenzie (10, 9.4, 2) is a threat on the inside.

Quarterback Brandon Cox had two pretty good seasons the last two years (59 percent, 4,522 yards, 29 TDs/7 INTs). However, thanks in part to the pressure he's been under, he is off to a poor start this year (53 percent, 571, 3/6). He was benched last week, but came off the bench to lead the Tigers to a win and reclaim his job. The other quarterback Kodi Burns is a better runner than thrower.

All in all, this is one of the weaker Auburn offenses I can remember Florida facing. And keep in mind, last year the Gators held them without an offensive touchdown. Then again, Florida was a whole lot better on defense a year ago. Still, Auburn causes UF some problems. The Gators have to make certain they play excellent first-down defense to try and put Brandon Cox in long down-and-distance situations. Since Rodgeriqus Smith is such a deep threat, it's crucial that Florida not repeat the mistake of last week when they allowed Wallace to get behind the defense for an easy 77-yard score.

Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Larry Vettel


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