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!