Five Keys to Victory - Auburn Game

The Texas Aggie football team embarks on a difficult three-game SEC road trip when they travel to Jordan-Hare Stadium for the first time in program history. Aggie Websider's David Sandhop takes a look at the five keys to a victory over the Tigers on the road.

1. Don't Give Auburn a Short Field

It's no secret that Auburn's offense struggles to move the ball. The Tigers average on 276 yards a game, good for No. 118 in the country. They also struggle in third down efficiency at only 28%. Thus, the odds that Auburn can sustain a long scoring drive are low. As a result, the Aggies can't turn the ball over or have negative plays on special teams that give Auburn's offense a short field to score. Forcing this offense to drive 70+ yards to score will play into A&M's favor.

2. Load the Box to Stop the Run

While Auburn is equally poor in both the run and pass game, the Tigers will attempt to establish a rushing attack to eliminate troublesome third-and-long situations that have plagued the Auburn offense all season. By establishing a successful run game, the Tigers can control the clock and keep the dangerous Texas A&M offense off the field. So even though Chizik and company haven't run the ball with much success, this is the path to victory for the underdog Tigers. A&M's defense can combat this strategy by crowding the box and aggressively attacking the point of attack to stop the run. If effective, the Aggies can force Auburn into low percentage third down and long situations.

3. Effective Third Down Blitzes

The Aggie defense will have a huge advantage on obvious pass plays. Auburn has struggled to protect the QB, giving up a season-high eight sacks against Arkansas and currently ranked No. 113 nationally in sacks allowed with 24. On the other side, under the leadership of Damontre Moore, Texas A&M is one of the best pass rushing teams in the country at No. 12 with 21 QB sacks. Forcing the Tigers into third-and-long situations will likely pay big dividends in the form of sacks and turnovers.

4. Play Under Control

It's hard to tell your playmaking QB to dial it down a notch. But, with Auburn struggling on both sides of the ball, the only way for the Tigers to leave Jordan-Hare Stadium with their first SEC win of the year is to win the turnover battle and take advantage of several Texas A&M errors and turnovers. Thus, the A&M skill players must be conscious to protect the ball and not take undo risks with ball security and interceptions. Johnny Manziel has gained a ton of yards and earned plenty of accolades this season, but he's also personally accounted for nine turnovers in the past three weeks. I'm not suggesting that Coach Kingsbury put a ball-and-chain on Johnny Football, but the redshirt freshman has been around the block to know that left-handed passes and forced throws are not needed in this game. There will be plenty of opportunities to score on Auburn's struggling defense, so when a play breaks down, it's best to live to run the next play.

5. Score First and Don't Let Auburn Hang Around

This is a standard to-do list for any road favorite battling a talented but struggling team scrambling to save their coach's job. In addition, there will be added motivation for Auburn's players to play for Coach Chizik after the passing of his mother earlier this week. For a favorite such as the Aggies this weekend, the best way to short circuit a struggling team's motivation is to score right away and take the fight out of the Tiger. An emotionally battered Arkansas team hung tough with the Aggies into the second quarter until a mistake and a couple of quick scores suddenly broke their backs and they laid over the rest of the way for a 48-point win. I'm not expecting the same type of collapse for the Tigers at home, but with a restless fanbase and a team that has a confidence problem, a strong start by the road team could start a similar emotional slide that could provide a comfortable win. If A&M allows Auburn to hang around into the late third quarter, the fans will come alive and the team will gain confidence and energy that will could spell trouble.

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