The Texas A&M Aggies travel to Auburn this week to face their first road game and first SEC game of the season. Today we check in with Inside the Auburn Tigers' Editor Mark Murphy.
The Texas A&M Aggies are off to a strong start to the season and will look to continue that momentum as they hit the road for the first time in the 2016 season and play their first SEC opponent as well.
As is the case each week, we reach out to a member of the media from that week's Aggie opponent to get a better look at the upcoming opponent. This week we check in with Mark Murphy who is the Editor for Inside the Auburn Tigers here on the Scout network.
After the two different approaches to the quarterback position in the first two games, is Sean White the main guy A&M fans should expect to see or could there be a different option?
Look for White, a redshirt sophomore, to take the majority of snaps at quarterback with juco transfer John Franklin in for a handful of plays to take advantage of his speed as a runner. He has legitimate sub 4.5 speed.
White, who was out with an injury when the Tigers played at Texas A&M last November, may have put together his best all-around college performance last week as a passer, runner and leader. He hit 17-23 passes for 244 yards and three touchdowns and ran the ball 10 times for 60 yards. He also was in command from the QB position after having the opportunity to play without being pulled in and out of the lineup.
Senior Jeremy Johnson, who opened the 2015 season as the starter, is not likely to see action this week after being moved to third team on the depth chart. He had a solid effort vs. the Aggies last year, hitting 13-17 passes for 132 yards in a game the Tigers focused on running the football.
Defensively for the Aggies a lot of the attention goes to the pair of defensive ends Myles Garrett and Daeshon Hall. How has Auburn offensive line looked on the edge in the first two games and how do you expect them to attack those two Aggie defenders?
Auburn ran right at the A&M ends last season and had success with that, but the big tackles doing the blocking in 2015 have moved on to the NFL.
Last year’s starting center, junior Austin Golson, is the new No. 1 left tackle. Robert Leff, a fifth-year senior who had just one offensive line start prior to this season, is the No. 1 right tackle. The strength of the offensive front is at the guard spots so the tackles might get help from a tailback or fullblack to block against Garrett and Hall in passing situations.
What are a few ways the Auburn defense will look to get pressure on A&M quarterback Trevor Knight?
Kevin Steele, who took over from Will Muschamp as defensive coordinator, is low-key compared to Muschamp, but the coaches run similar systems and both believe in an aggressive style of play. Like Muschamp, Steele is not shy about blitzing using linebackers, cornerbacks, the nickel or the safeties.
Steele inherited a deep group of ends and tackles The Tigers have used 11 players on the front four this season and will rotate those guys in and out of the lineup in an effort to keep fresh players on the field at all times.
Auburn’s cornerbacks appear to be young. How do you expect them to do against the A&M receivers?
Carlton Davis was a freshman All-SEC selection last year and will start at one cornerback. He is probably one of the best man coverage defensive backs in the league.
The other likely starter at corner is fifth-year senior Josh Holsey, who has made a nice comeback from knee surgery after missing the 2015 season. Holsey, who can also play safety and nickel, is off to a good start.
Game one starter, Javaris Davis, will likely play in a reserve role. The redshirt freshman is exceptionally fast.
A wildcard in the cornerback mix is graduate transfer Marshall Taylor, who made his Auburn debut last week. He missed most of the preseason practices and wasn’t ready to play in the opener, but the former Miami of Ohio starter could see action vs. the Aggies.
Obviously the level of competition was significantly easier in week two than for Clemson. What is the happy medium you think the offense lands at in the Texas A&M game?
In the Clemson game the Tigers came out with new formations and new plays, running variations of the Notre Dame Box and Delaware Wing-T offenses. Considering that didn’t work in the opener and the more traditional Gus Malzahn offense looked much more polished in game two, look for the Tigers to run their spread formation sets and try to play at a fast tempo. Malzahn is a strong believer in running the football and attacking the secondary with deep passes.
A key to Auburn having offensive production is success on first down plays. After running the ball almost exclusively on first downs in the opener until playing catch up in the fourth quarter, the Tigers were less predictable in their play calling in game two, a trend likely to continue this week.