USF at Auburn: Scouting the Tiger's Defense

The USF football team travels to Jordon-Hare Stadium to play the first BIG road game of 2007 against No. 17/13 Auburn on Saturday. USFNation.com breaks down the Tiger's defense for the Bulls much anticipated match-up in Alabama. Only on USFNation.com - Get it First, Get it Fast!

Auburn's Defense


What to watch for.

  • Auburn likes to use a 3-4 line up against mobile quarterbacks. Moving a defensive end around to blitz from different positions.
  • The Tigers to leave someone to spy on Grothe. Last year they didn't fair so well against quarterbacks that could tuck it and run. There should be an adjustment this season.
  • Quentin Groves, in the opener the DE recorded 5 tackles, 3 TFL, and his 2 sacks leaves him one shy of tying the school record (26) set by Gerald Robinson (82-85)
  • Last season Auburn was ranked 7th in the nation in scoring defense (13.9), and returns 7 starters on defense.
  • The Tiger's were the only team to defeat 2007 national champs Florida and only team to defeat two teams in the top five in the country (No.1 & No.3 LSU, and it was done with defense.


By Position

 

Defensive Line: This is by far the deepest and most experienced part of Auburn's team. They are led by Quentin Groves, a veteran, athletic defensive end with a lot of experience that could be a first round pick if he keeps improving. In the middle there is a workhorse in Josh Thompson and a massive playmaker in Pat Sims. Thompson is a senior that won't take over a game, but he has been around forever and is a solid player. Sims is a junior that is a load to deal with at 6'4 315. The light apparently has finally gone on for him and he has been very impressive since the end of last season. At the other end position is sophomore Sen'Derrick Marks, who was moved to the end position from, tackle to get their best players on the field. They are plenty deep behind these starters and will probably rotate everyone but Groves pretty regular if given the chance. In the opener after Groves sacked Josh Freeman and caused a fumble, sophomore Antonio Coleman scooped up the loose ball and returned it 34 yards for his first touchdown with 1:11 remaining in the game to seal the come back victory.

 

Linebackers: What looked like a possible strength at the beginning of spring practice could make it a long season with the losses of Steve Gandy and Patrick Trahan. Now there will be Merrill Johnson at weak side and Craig Stevens at strong side. Johnson is a junior that has several starts under his belt and looks to last the entire season after tapering off at the end of last year. Stevens is a red shirt freshman that has the potential to be very good, and he will need to be for this unit to be as good as it hopes. In the middle is sophomore Tray Blackmon, who is as physically talented as they come. He hasn't seen the field as much as he would like due to off the field problems. All of that seems to be behind him now as he looks to be the "little ball of hate" that everyone is waiting for. Blackmon has great instincts and will be a play maker. Now if he could only figure out where to line up. There isn't as much dept as Auburn would like behind these three. A pair of underachieving juniors in Chris Evans and Courtney Harden and a host of true freshmen are fighting to get into the rotation. In the opener Blackman had 3 tackles, 1 QBH, a pass break-up and an interception that he returned for 49 yards

 

Secondary: The secondary has been around a while but no one is really sure what to expect from them. Senior Jonathan Wilhite and sophomore Jerraud Powers will start. Powers is the one that everyone on the team has been talking about because even though he is just 5'9 he is "a big play guy." Wilhite was good and bad depending on which game you watched last year. Pat Lee should see a lot of game time also. There is no true "lockdown" corner in the bunch but they are equally good. The safeties are senior Eric Brock and sophomore Aairon Savage. Both return from good seasons last year. Brock has been trying to hold onto his position while battling red shirt freshman Zac Etheridge. Expect to see a good bit of all six players mentioned because there is no real drop off in talent. Overall the depth is okay, but it's the play against very good receivers that they are worried about. In the opener safety Zac Etheridge led the team with 8 tackles, followed by corner Patrick Lee who had 6 tackles, 2 pass break-ups, and a FF,

 

 

What I think the Bulls should do on offense:

 

  • Quick passes- if Grothe can get rid of the ball on some quick routes and take the big defensive line out of the equation, they could have some success.
  • Misdirection- again avoiding the line and taking advantage of Blackmon's aggressive nature. Particularly toward Groves. He is a great pass rusher, but he came back to work on becoming better against the run.
  • Establish the run – The Tigers are 38-4 when holding an opponent to under 100 yards rushing
  • Protect the football – Auburn has a knack for making big plays on defense and putting points on the board Last season Auburn was ranked 7th in the nation in scoring defense (13.9), and big plays got them back in the game and secured the win against Kansas State.
  • Score Early – Auburn is 54-4 under Tuberville when they score first, but only 18-25 when opponents score first, and an early score will temper the hostile crowd.
  • Catch the ball – The Bulls receiver unit can't play how they did in the opener against Elon, and should find holes in the Tigers secondary.
  • USF should match up well with the areas where Auburn's defense struggled in their first game. Their open field tackling wasn't very good and with Grothe's mobility it should keep him out of harm's way.

 


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