USF at Auburn: Breaking Down Auburn's Offense

The USF football team will play the first BIG game of 2007 when it travels to No. 17/13 Auburn on Saturday. breaks down the Tiger's offense for the Bulls match-up at Jordon-Hare Stadium. Only on - Get it First, Get it Fast!

Auburn's Offense


What to expect?

  • Expect everything to work off of the ground game. The formula is really pretty simple from AU's perspective. If they are able to get close to 200 yards on the ground… they win.
  • Everything is slow and deliberate with Auburn's offense. There is no hurry up to worry about here. They are very much a "Here is what we are going to do. Now see if you can stop us." kind of team.
  • Two trick plays a fake hand off then hand off to the wideout on a reverse and a halfback pass on a toss play. One of these will come early in the first quarter.
  • Auburn had trouble in its opener, narrowly surviving with a 23-13 win over Kansas State that had the game in hand, but blew it late. The Tiger's will do everything in it's power not to have the same result.



By Position:


Quarterback: Brandon Cox is going into his third year as a starter. Injured most of last season, he is looking to rebound for a strong senior campaign. He is basically a guy that knows the offense really well and doesn't usually make mistakes. The exception to the rule was the game against Georgia last year when UGA's safety Tra Battle was his leading receiver with three ints. He will not carry the team. His job is to do just enough to try and keep the defense honest.

Side note: There is no one ready to play behind him. If he goes down, the season is over for the tigers


Running backs:  This is an unknown group that should be one of the best in the nation by year's end. The group is led by junior Brad Lester, who is a smaller slashing back that made the most of his backup playing time in years past, is now looking to become more of an every down back. However Lester may not play against USF due to academic issues. The starting fullback will be senior Carl Stewart who is extremely versatile. He is really the unsung hero of the offense that does everything well including making big receptions on wheel routes that they like to run. The real promise is in the young guns Ben Tate played some as a true freshman, which is rare for this position because it stays loaded with talent. Tate is a straight line runner who would rather run over a defender then run around them. In the tigers opener Tate rushed 23 ties for 82 yards,   Mario Fannin appears to be the future of the program.  The red shirt freshman has it all 4.4 speed in a 5'11 220lb. body. He has drawn the most praise from coaches during the off season. Last in the line at running back is junior Tristan Davis, a special teams threat that has put up numbers in limited time.


Receivers: A very green group led by junior Rod Smith . Smith was originally a walk on that worked his way into the starting lineup last season. He won't be a huge threat with average size and speed, but he is going to be the consistent guy that catches anything within reach. Behind him is a wealth of potential and little else. A lot of guys that will line up with him are much more impressive in statue but have not done anything on the field. Sophomore Montez Billings is pretty quick with better hands than most will most likely be the other receiver the majority of the time. Senior Prechae Rodriguez looks imposing at 6'4 but has been very inconsistent. Then there are James Swinton, Robert Dunn, Tim Hawthorne, Alex Rose, and Terrell Zachery who all have yet to see much, if any, meaningful playing time. The tight ends could help out in the passing game with Cole Bennett, Tommy Trott and Gabe McKenzie making up what could be the best trio in the nation. Even though you probably haven't heard much about him McKenzie is developing into one of the better tight ends around. In the opener Rodriguez led all receivers with 6 catches for 73 yards, Gabe McKenzie had 4 catches and the only receiving score, and Rod smith had 1 catch for 55 yards.


Offensive Line: This is the one area, aside from Cox's health that could decide the season.  If they are able to move people off of the ball then the tigers could be very good this season. The only returning starter is a mountain of a man at left tackle, senior King Dunlap. At 6'8 and upwards of 315 pounds he is an athletic guy that needs to play as big as he is. He isn't a liability but he hasn't been a force either. Left Guard will be junior Tyrone Green who has been very good but still has to show it in games. Jason Bosley is the center who started four games last year. He has to replace last year's quarterback of the offensive line, Joe Cope.  At right guard Leon Hart looks to finally be stepping in to the starting role as a senior. He was a highly touted prospect that has been good, just not good enough to start. The right tackle position is anyone's guess. Andrew McCain is the leader right now with Antwion Daniels, Oscar Gonzalez, Mike Berry, and Lee Ziemba right behind him. They have been playing musical chairs with the offensive line all off season at right tackle and guard. They just need to make a decision already!


What the Bulls need to do on defense:


·        Get past the Hype – Going into Jordon-Hare stadium is intimidating, and the Bulls have got to get past that quickly to do well. The Bulls have played in big hostile environments before and Leavitt and staff have to keep the Bulls focused.

·        Win the battles upfront - the Tigers have been held to less than twenty points on offense eight times in the past three seasons. Six of those times have been against big defensive lines. Now USF doesn't have a big offensive line, but where they lack size they make up for in speed and tenacity.

·        Stop the run at all costs. First and second downs are time for them to line up and run the ball down your throat. With the great corners we have blanketing the Tiger receivers almost everyone else should be focused on the run. Moving guys up to the line and daring the quarterback to win the game has been the most successful plan of attack in the past.

·        Bring pressure on third. With the inexperience along the offensive line and a quarterback that has a tendency to just take the sack instead of throwing it up; this could be a game to get some confidence with the pass rush.

·        Go after the Tigers inexperienced O-line. Auburn line is young and starts two freshmen and has really struggling in pass protection. The Bulls D-line led by DE George Selvie, who had four sacks and  six, tackles for loss in the Bulls opener, and Richard Clebert need to have a big game up front. 

·        Win the turnover battle – both teams have solid defenses and points will come at a premium, making the turnover battle even more critical for a victory. 

Good News for the Bulls Defense: Preseason starter, Brad Lester, has been sidelined because of academic problems. Also Tristan Davis is out with a broken toe.


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