To get an update from the Auburn side and gather insight into where things stand with War Eagle, TSD went to ITAT veteran writer Jason Caldwell for five pregame questions.
What's been the biggest difference between the good Jeremy Johnson we saw last year compared to the struggling Jeremy Johnson we've seen this year? How confident is Auburn that he can turn things around in time for this LSU game?
ITAT: I think the biggest difference right now is taking too many chances throwing the football. Last season he let the offense come to him, but now that it’s his team things have been a little more forced so far through two games. I think the Auburn coaches are very confident he can turn things around based on how he finished last week.
When you look at his numbers things weren’t nearly as bad as they looked on first glance. He completed 21-32 passes for 236 yards and two touchdowns, and had at least four passes either dropped or thrown away. The problem continued to be giveaways as he had two more interceptions. If the stat sheet following Saturday shows a 0 in the interception total for Johnson and the Auburn offense I think you would have to like the chances of getting a win in Baton Rouge for the first time since 1999.
Brandon Harris' lone start last season came against Auburn, and it was a disaster. How much stock is Auburn putting in that game in terms of using it to prepare for this year's version of Brandon Harris?
ITAT: I’m sure Auburn is watching last year’s game to see how they affected his game, but with a different coordinator and defensive scheme things are much different this time around. Will Muschamp is a veteran coordinator so taking every opportunity to watch Harris in action is always a bonus, but now a year older and more experienced Harris is a player you approach differently this time around.
How much have we really seen from Will Muschamp's defense through these two games? What will he do to make Brandon Harris uncomfortable and force mistakes?
ITAT: Probably the only time we’ve seen Muschamp’s defense as it was intended was in the first half of the opener against Louisville when the Tigers held them scoreless for the first 30 minutes. Since that time it has been a mash unit of sorts with injuries on every level forcing young players in for significant snaps.
As for what the Auburn defense will do to make Harris uncomfortable, it starts with the run defense. Forcing LSU into predictable passing situations is the key and that means slowing down Leonard Fournette and the running game.
Will Carl Lawson play against LSU? What kind of difference does he make when he's in there for the Auburn defense?
ITAT: That’s the biggest question that remains for this week and it may not be answered until Auburn gets on the field for warmups on Saturday. Lawson is dealing with a sore hip so it’s just a matter of loosening it up enough to play. A very determined player, if there’s anyway he can go then Lawson will be out there.
If he’s on the field and full speed Lawson makes a huge difference for Auburn’s defense because of the push he gets up front. He’s constantly playing in the backfield and that is a disruption for any offense.
What's made Auburn so susceptible to the read-option this season? What has Will Muschamp done to try and fix that?
ITAT: I think the biggest thing that has bothered Auburn in dealing with the read-option is just having so many different faces in there on defense. Executing is the name of the game when dealing with assignment football like you need for the option and that’s something Auburn hasn’t done well since that first half against Louisville. Having everyone on the same page and working as one is the key.
---------------------------Check out the video below as TSD publisher Ben Love gives three predictions on the LSU side for Saturday afternoon's game in Tiger Stadium.