Wednesday, September 16, 2009

West Virginia Preview

As Auburn's biggest test rapidly approaches, I feel more and more confident in Auburn's chances this weekend. Why?

1. Revenge Game: Auburn was embarrased on national television last year in a game I frankly thought was the worst defensive performance by an Auburn team in memory. I thought Auburn quit late in last years game after completely dominating the first half of the game. Players have long memories and believe me, those that were there remember the feeling of losing a nonconference road game and, I'm sure, has been a driving force to not be repeated. I've also heard from many in attendance the Mountaineer fans were not the most hospitable bunch around!

2. Replacing Offensive Linemen: West Virginia is replacing three long time starters along the offensive line this year. This enabled LIBERTY to apply pressure on West Virginia's talented senior QB throughout the game. Auburn's defensive front will be the best front this team faces this season!

3. Auburn's Ability to Run the Football: Two things win games in college football...1. The ability to run the football. 2. An experienced QB(in large part getting teams out of bad play calls and into better ones) . Though West Virginia has a few homerun threats (guys that can score from anywhere on the field [see Noel Devine circa 2008 vs AU]), I feel like AU has more balance and is better able to sustain drives by running the football.

4. Jordan-Hare Stadium: West Virginia will not be intimidated by coming to Jordan-Hare, however, I've got to believe Jordan-Hare will be a bit louder than their games versus Liberty and East Carolina!! Communication will obviously be more difficult (especially for a young, inexperienced offensive line).

There are, however, a few concerns with this match-up that, if not held in check, could make for a long night...

1. Senior QB is big (6'4" 230lbs), fast, and accurate. He's completing over 75% of his passes and rushing for about 70 yards/game as well. He must be rattled, harrassed, and hit at every opportunity.

2. Auburn's Lack of Defensive Depth: This is a game depth could prove to be a major factor. With a dual threat QB, our linebackers and defensive backs will constantly be yo-yoing from pass responsibilites to filling running lanes when the quarterback tucks the ball and runs. The threat of this makes pass drops a bit shallower, putting more pressure on our young defensive backs to cover more real estate alone on an island. Add to the mix a speedster in Devine and you have to remain disciplined in tackling technique--you dive and miss this week and it's 6!

3. West Virginia Defense: This will not be the best defense we face all season, but it will be the best we've faced this year. It'll be interesting to see how our offense responds if it struggles early?!

4. Special Teams: We have to get more production as a whole out our special teams department. Fortunately, West Virginia may be struggling just as much if not moreso than Auburn in this department thus far this season.

Ultimately, I think the game comes down to two things...who's able to run the football most effectively, and who makes the fewest mistakes. The winner of these two categories wins the game. I do not see this game becoming the shoot-out that so many are expecting. Defense will keep both teams in the game early with Auburn pulling away in the second half with Chris Todd spreading the wealth through the air and propelling AU into the Top 20.


Trust me...I'm a doctor!


  1. .....Interesting take. Prior to the selection of Chris Todd as the starting QB, and the explosion of the Auburn running game, I had pretty much figured that Auburn was likely to get blown out in this one. I still think it will be tough, but the Mountaineers have some key guys like Scooter Berry hurt.

    .....I've got to say, I am really enjoying hearing what a real, outstanding Auburn football man has to say in the blogosphere, as opposed to band geeks/armchair quarterbacks like myself!

    .....For those readers who don't know, Rob was one of those guys who sacrificed for the good of the team, much like Kodi Burns. As a true freshman, he got tossed into the starting lineup early in 1997 at strong safety. 1998 was the year of catastrophic injuries, and I think Rob played hurt all year. In 1999, Rob was pretty much the leader of the defense. In 2000, Rob took one for the team, and moved down to Will linebacker, AND started the season suffering from a serious illness. Once the cool weather came, Rob was back in fine form, cracking heads like always, and he helped Auburn to the SEC Championship game in Atlanta.

    .....Rob's DEFINITELY earned that "Auburn Man" badge, and we'll look forward eagerly to his posts!

    Acid Reign

  2. Rob,

    i'm curious to hear your thoughts on our punt formation. seems to be a hot topic on the message boards a lot of teams are going to this and it supposedly helps get more speed on the field. but i see us with 3 big backup OLs as personal protectors. not sure how that helps the speed.

    other thing i noticed on punt (noticed on the 1st one) that Durst seemed to take his sweet time getting it off. he needs to pick it up a little.

    i think we rush for 200+ and todd pushes 300 passing. 45-28 good guys.

  3. Rob, Solid analysis. I agree with that the running game success for each team will determine the rest of the game.

    The AU DL will need to stuff the inside run and keep pressure on the QB in order to take away some dimensions from the WVA offense and keep from running the LBs/Dbs in the ground.

    AU will score points. The WVa run D has good stats, but needs to move folks up in the box to stop the run. Unlike last year, we have a Qb arm, Wrs and playcalling that can take advantage and outfox the D sets.

    I see this as a higher scoring game with AU going ahead early and WVa coming back as our D gets tired. The last team to score will win. 38-35.

    The best chance for AU to prevent a shootout is if the AU run game dominates in the 4th Qtr as in the 2 previous games.

  4. Acid Reign...very kind words--much appreciated!

    Brett...I hate the punt formation for nothing else it limits communication. A tight (old school) punt formation allows everyone to talk to each other about their assignment even as multiple shifting is occurring...In the current (new school) formation, the three personal protectors can't communicate with the guys on the line of scrimmage. I hate that! Teams go to this gimmicky stuff because it looks neat on a grease board and they want to negate a speedster coming off the corner to block a punt. I submit, however, if you have the ability to communicate as a unit, it doesn't matter how you line up or what the block team does, you can handle it if all are on the same page!