Nik's Commodore Keys: Auburn

After handling Eastern Michigan last week, Vanderbilt (3-1 1-1 SEC) will face some tougher competition on the road at Auburn (3-2 1-1 SEC). This will mark the first road game for the Commodores, who have had a lot of success on the road in the last two years. The Commodores will need to have continued success on the road to have success this season, and to truly turn this into a special season

Defensive Line

      Vanderbilt's defensive line will have to get plenty of pressure on Auburn quarterback Brandon Cox. Cox has been inconsistent, but is coming off of a 227 yard performance against Florida. Cox did not throw any interceptions or touchdowns, but he was sacked four times. Vanderbilt, which has had nine sacks in the past two games, will need to get pressure on Cox in order to sack him and force the poor throw. Also, the defensive line will play a vital part in stopping Auburn's run game. Auburn only ran for 99 yards against Florida, but will have star running back Brad Lester back for the Vanderbilt game. Vanderbilt's top 20 nationally ranked defense will need to continue their high level of play in this coming SEC game.

Strong Secondary

      The Commodores will need to continue strong play in the secondary to defeat Auburn. Brandon Cox, who has been inconsistent for the Tigers, has thrown six interceptions this season. With defensive pressure from the defensive line, particularly Steven Stone, Curtis Gatewood, and Broderick Stewart, as well as linebackers Jonathan Goff and Marcus Buggs, the secondary will need to be able to defend quick passes and forced throws by Cox. The Commodores will need to force turnovers, much like the five interceptions that were forced against Eastern Michigan, they will have a great chance to get their fourth win and second SEC win this year.

Getting Back on Track

      The next vital part for success against Auburn will be Vanderbilt's offense. After throwing four interceptions, Chris Nickson will have to get back on track against Auburn. Nickson will have to play at a high level this week, both running and passing the ball. Also, the Dores will have to get a consistent ground game against the Tigers. Cassen Jackson-Garrison has nearly 200 yards in the last two games, and Jeff Jennings should be back from an injury suffered against Alabama. The Vanderbilt offensive line will have to be more productive at controlling the line of scrimmage. If Vanderbilt can dominate the line of scrimmage, they will have a good chance at winning on the road. 

It'll be interesting to see…

      How Chris Nickson bounces back from a poor game against a scrappy Eastern Michigan defense. Nickson tends to be resilient. After a poor outing against Alabama earlier this season, he responded with a brilliant performance against Ole Miss. Last year, after a terrible performance against South Carolina, in which he completed only four passes, he responded with an SEC Player of the Week performance at Duke. He also had one of the best games by a Commodore quarterback later at Kentucky. Vanderbilt will need him to step up and make big plays against Auburn this weekend.

Last Meeting: Auburn 45 Vanderbilt 7 (2003 in Nashville)

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