A Quick Look At Auburn

Coincidentally, Auburn was ranked No. 8 in 1955 as well, with the Tigers finishing 8-2-1 after defeating Vanderbilt in the Gator Bowl. Tulane finished 5-4-1 in it's second season under head coach Andy Pilney

The Green Wave plays another ancient rival from it's old Southern Intercollegiate Conference and SEC days when the team journeys to Auburn, Ala. to face the No. 8 ranked Auburn University Tigers. Kickoff is slated for 1:30 p.m.

This series dates back to 1902 and Tulane leads by a 17-13-2 margin. The two teams have not played since 1955, when the Green Wave took a 27-13 victory in Sugar Bowl Stadium.

Coincidentally, Auburn was ranked No. 8 in 1955 as well, with the Tigers finishing 8-2-1 after defeating Vanderbilt in the Gator Bowl. Tulane finished 5-4-1 in it's second season under head coach Andy Pilney.

The Tigers were to play in Tulane Stadium only one more time, in the 1972 Sugar Bowl in which they bowed to the Oklahoma Sooners 40-22.

A good look at the 2006 War Eagles is our objective tonight.

Bad news: the Tiger offense does not turn the ball over much, and the defense is very opportunistic.

The Tiger offense, a low risk enterprise, has committed just six turnovers through their first seven games this season - two interceptions and four lost fumbles. It's a balanced offense with 151 yards per game rushing and 178 yards per game passing. The result is 25.7 points per game and a 6-1 record.

Breaking it down a little further, the running game has produced 13 touchdowns and an average of 4.1 yards per carry.

Quarterback Brandon Cox, the engineer of this low key express, has thrown only two interceptions this season, and none in the Plainsmen's last three contests. Cox, a junior, has thrown 83 consecutive passes without an interception, ranks third in Auburn history in lowest career interception percentage (.0245 - 12 interceptions on 490 attempts). And Cox only threw two interceptions in his last six games last season, so in a span of his last 13 starts he's thrown only four interceptions.

For the season Cox has thrown 150 times and completed 94 for 1,199 yards and 5 touchdowns.

Auburn's o'line has allowed 23 sacks through the first seven games.

The running game is in capable hands as well. Kenny Irons' very senior hands.

Irons, who is currently ranked No. 2 in the SEC with a per game average of 96.8 yards rushing has gained 100 yards rushing in 10 of his last 16 games. During that stretch Irons has gained a total 1,841 yards rushing. In only his second season at Auburn, Irons is already 15th on the list of rushers all-time in Auburn history with 1,874 career yards, and needs but 126 more yards to become the 12th player in Auburn history to rush for career 2,000 yards.

Irons has totalled 581 yards this season 121 carries, 4.8 yards per carry and 3 touchdowns.

Backup Brad Lester has 282 yards on 52 carries, 5.4 per carry and 5 touchdowns.

Redshirt freshman Ben Tate has played briefly, gaining 115 yards on 11 carries, and scoring 2 touchdowns. That's an average of 10.5 yards per carry.

The Tigers have a talented receiver in senior Courtney Taylor, who has more career receptions (129) than any other active player in the SEC. At this point in his career, his 1,731 receiving yards ranks seventh in Auburn history, and his 129 catches are the fourth best career total. The 6-2, 209-pound Taylor has not caught a touchdown pass this season, but has 30 catches for 337 yards.

The big play receiver is sophomore Rodgeriqus Smith who has 297 receiving yards on 15 catches, with two going for touchdowns. Six of Smith's catches have gone for 20 yards or more, for an average of 19.8 yards each.

The Tiger defense has grabbed 4 interceptions and recovered 5 fumbles, so the Tigers are a plus-three in the turnover ledger. The defense has turned in 20 sacks so far this season and has held opponents to 12.1 points per game.

Statistically the defense's stats are impressive, although the Tigers are giving up 3.9 rushing yards per carry, and 127 rushing yards per game. Pass defense is their forte, as opponents manage only 149 passing yards per game.

And opposing offenses have converted only 33% of the time on third down.

The anchor on defense has been linebacker Will Herring, who's made 37 tackles, 3.5 of them for losses, and also managed 2 interceptions.

Linebacker Karibi Dede has totalled 32 tackles, with two being tackles for losses, including one sack. Dede is a finalist for the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame's Draddy Trophy.

The top linemen is defensive end Quentin Groves, 6-4, 254-pounds. Groves has made 19 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and has 6 sacks, which ties him for the SEC lead. Groves is fourth in Auburn history with 19.5 career sacks, and has had at least one sack in four of Auburn's seven games this season including three in the second half of Auburn's 27-17 victory over Florida Oct. 14, which performance earned him SEC Defensive Player of the week honors.

In the secondary the pacesetters are Kenny Iron's older brother David, who starts at one corner and has made 27 tackles. Irons, a sixth-year senior, also has broken up 6 passes.

Strong safety Eric Brock leads the secondary with 35 tackles, has one interception, and has broken up 5 passes.

The Auburn return game is a major danger for the Green Wave, free safety Tristan Davis averages 26.2 yards per return on 13 returns. Brad Lester has averaged 24.8 yards on 5 carries. Lester has a long return of 68 yards, Davis' long return is 58 yards.

But the top returner on the team the past few seasons has been Tre Smith, the SEC's active leader in career total kick return yards: 937 yards - 636 yards on punt returns and 301 kickoff return yards. Smith, a running back by trade, has retired from kick return duties this season but did score on a 15-yard return of a blocked punt.

The new punt returner is Robert Dunn, a sophomore wide receiver, who averages 7.1 yards per return on 18 punt returns.

The punter is Kody Bliss, who sports a 45.8 yard per punt average on 25 punts this season, and has a career average of 43.3 yard per punt, which ranks him third in Auburn history. The net punting average is around 38 yards per kick.

Auburn's cover units allow 10.2 yards per punt return, and 193 yards per kick return.

It's fairly apparent that this Auburn squad will be the Green Wave's most formidable opponent of the season.


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