So forgive me as I take a walk on the wild optimistic side and I take the time to put down what it will take for Auburn to beat the number one team in the country. You may already know my prediction for this game, but if you don’t, you won’t know what it is from this write-up on what the Good Tigers need to do to win this ball game.
First of all, I have to mention the most cliché point I know. It irks me to say it, but nonetheless it’s true. Auburn must minimize its mistakes. They can’t have any turnovers or costly penalties in crucial situations. So far, Auburn has had a major mistake in every game it has played. They must cease such critical mistakes if they want to win this game. The biggest piece to the puzzle must include Auburn not giving the ball away. In addition, the defense of LSU is too good for Auburn to face in poor field position as well. The special teams unit must continue to keep winning the battle of field position. Therefore, the first and foremost part of the upset must be from not screwing up against a great team and the most radical crowd they’ve faced all year. If they’re going to pull this upset off, they’re going to need to play damn near flawless football.
Next, Auburn cannot start Trotter. I know that seems harsh and possibly uncalled for, but it’s the truth and the truth hurts. Trotter is finished this season. I do not know when or how it happened, but ever since the Clemson game he simply has not been the same. He looks like a man defeated on the field. You think I’m pessimistic? That guy has loss written all over him. Hell, he doesn’t even act all that excited when he throws a touchdown pass. It honestly looks like it’s a chore for him to go out there and play. Moseley or Frazier may not be great, but they have hope. If Auburn starts Trotter, he’ll personally slay whatever hope Auburn has of beating LSU.
Gus must use his running backs wisely. Dyer cannot take another 41 carry beating like he did against South Carolina. He’s got to use Tre Mason and Onterio McCaleb more if his backs are going to withstand the beating that LSU puts on running backs. In addition, each back has their own style and they make it quite difficult to really get a rhythm going on defending three different tailbacks. Another thing, Gus can’t run the ball every time after the quick lineup on first down. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like every time Auburn goes into hurry-up mode, they run it up the middle with Mike Dyer. You simply can’t be that predictable against a defense like that of LSU. You must do some things that surprise them or they’ll key in and stop the all too predictable ball movement. Gus must also take chances with deep bombs down field. I realize Auburn must minimize its mistakes, but it must also take chances. If it never goes downfield, the Auburn offense will have a long night. The deep threat forces LSU to play honestly and not put 8-9 guys in the box. Benton must come through on Saturday. He must catch the deep balls thrown to him. If Auburn is going to shock the world and stun LSU, Benton must catch every good pass thrown his way. The Good Tigers cannot afford any drops from him. He simply needs to play the best game of his life. In third and short situations, Auburn must not keep going for short screens. AU has become all too predictable when that happens. The Good Tigers must have a variety of offensive plays to keep that LSU defense on its toes. They cannot become predictable and allow LSU the chance to stack up the numbers each time Auburn attempts a play.
Now, it’s time for the defense. Let me surprise you guys by leading off with the fact that LSU has not faced a defense as good as Auburn’s yet. This Auburn defense is bigger and faster than anybody that the LSU offense has seen. They have not faced a defensive line this quick and strong. AU must win this battle in the trenches. Blackson must be a rock that stuffs the middle and the ends need to give the quarterback hell every time he thinks about stepping up to center. I am afraid to mention this unit honestly, but the linebackers have to play the game of their lives. They must be as effective as they’ve been all season. This is Auburn’s biggest weakness. LSU will work to exploit Auburn’s weak play at linebacker. If the linebackers for AU are playing their assignments right and swarming to the ball properly, you will witness LSU not having much success moving the ball against Auburn. The secondary of Auburn is probably the most underrated in the country. They do not receive much credit, but since Auburn has become more aggressive those guys have gone from barely serviceable to solid cover guys. I fully expect Auburn to grab 1-2 interceptions from Lee on Saturday. I do think Auburn will get some pressure on Lee and that he’ll make some bad throws allowing Auburn’s secondary some great opportunities to force some turnovers. If they do get such an opportunity, Auburn must cash in these turnovers. They cannot settle for field-goals they must have touchdowns. The mentality of this team will be shown when the decision to go for it on fourth and close or kick the field-goal comes to Chizik. If he kicks the field-goal Auburn will be playing not to lose. If he chooses to go for it, Auburn is letting it all fly and mistakes be damned. I think the cut loose attitude is necessary for Auburn to win in Baton Rouge. They must play with the mindset that they can win not the mentality to make it close.
Special teams need not make a spectacular effort. In fact, they only need to do what they’ve been doing so far all season. If they maintain their stellar play, that is sufficient for Auburn’s chances of winning this game where they are such a low-underdog. If you see special teams making key mistakes, Auburn’s going to be in for a long day. They must keep their heads on straight and not lose focus. The crowd will be screaming the entire time. They must not let the stadium intimidate them. If they do, they’ve lost before the scoreboard says nothing but zero time left. To be on the good end of the scoreboard, Auburn needs to have strong punt returns as well. This is the one special teams’ area where Auburn must improve if they need improvement on any. I think the kickoff returns will handle themselves. I’m hoping Tre Mason can play this game. If not, that’s a key element for Auburn’s success at an upset gone.
Finally, whoever quarterbacks Auburn cannot have any costly turnovers. Yes, they need to play loose and with the attitude to win or go home. That said, the quarterbacks cannot throw many interceptions. LSU capitalizes on their opponents mistakes. Auburn must avoid those mistakes if they want to win this one. Corey Lemonier and Nosa Egue must keep getting pressure on the quarterback. The gimmicky misdirection plays will not work on this LSU defense either. I know that people think misdirection uses somebody’s speed against them, but if the defense stays at home they actually only help the fast defenses more. No, you need to overpower them to tire them out and slow them down. The finesse game will not work against the LSU defense. I realize how big they are, but reverses and the like will only lead to major losses of yards. Auburn must play as physical as they’ve played all year. The penalties have to go. If they keep that up, the game will be over long before the fourth quarter. LSU will get some big plays, but Auburn needs to make sure they feel every big gainer they get. This will be the most effective defense against LSU. If you hit them hard enough, they don’t move with quite the same quickness as they did in the beginning of the game. Something that has gone under the radar with Auburn: The refs need to call the holding that constantly goes on AU’s defensive ends. I cannot say how many times I’ve watch the DE’s get mauled on their way to the quarterback only to watch a ref lose his ability to throw a flag. Those need to be called for Auburn to have a chance Saturday. Auburn is consistently held all game long. If the refs would start calling it right, that would give the Good Tigers a much better situation to properly defend third and long. Well that about sums it up so there you have my take on how Auburn could upset LSU.