It's that time of year again. That time when the tigers of Auburn and LSU face each other in the constant battlefield that is the SEC West. This series seems to have as many historical story lines surrounding the game as the games themselves; The Earthquake Game, The Cigar Game, and The Barn Burner game quickly spring to mind. The two teams generally play each other very hard and the games are usually close, with last year an obvious exception. After suffering a complete embarrassment in Baton Rouge in 2011, what will Auburn need to do to pull out the win against a very talented and more experienced LSU team? We break down what it will take after the jump.
AUBURN OFFENSE VS. LSU DEFENSE
Auburn's offensive line will need to hold their own against a very nasty group of LSU front defenders. We know Auburn wants to establish a running game, so opening up holes for Auburn's running backs will be job number one. Leaving time for Frazier to make proper reads and go through his progressions to make sound decisions while back in the pocket will be paramount as well.
That brings us to the next key on offense: Kiehl Frazier. He will no doubt have to play his best game yet to help Auburn win this game. "Protecting the football" is coach speak for limiting turn overs and Frazier has not done a very good job in protecting the football. Frazier's confidence in himself and his teammates will be crucial throughout the game. If he throws one or two picks in the first half and his confidence begins to waiver, it could be a long evening on The Plains for the good tigers.
Players in skill positions will need to step up and make plays. Running backs will need to follow blocks (Prosch, ahem) between the tackles, and wide receivers NOT NAMED Emory Blake or Philip Lutzenkirchen need to step up. Quan Bray has shown flashes of greatness here and there, but inconsistent play has been the norm. LSU linebackers and secondary will be locked in on Blake and Lutz all night, so Bray, Reed, Stallworth, and Sammie Coates need to run tight routes and get separation from LSU's defensive backs
AUBURN DEFENSE VS. LSU OFFENSE
Once again, it starts up front. Auburn's defensive tackles MUST step up and hold their own if Auburn is going to have any chance of stopping LSU's stable of stud running backs from running all over them. To this point, Auburn's defensive tackle play has honestly been atrocious. Auburn's defensive end play, however, has been quite good. Corey Lemonier and Dee Ford have attacked off the edge and visited opposing teams' backfield early and often. Keeping pressure on LSU's quarterback Zach Mettenberger, who is starting in his first ever SEC game, will be a major component to an Auburn win.
Auburn's linebackers MUST line up correctly at the beginning of the play, stay on their assignments, and not get blocked out. This will the first game all season that Auburn's defense hasn't faced some form of hurry up spread offense. Perhaps this will help in defensive play calling woes and getting the play set before the snap.
LSU traditionally has an outstanding wide receiving corp. Auburn's secondary must play smart during man coverage and not hurt the team with pass interference penalties. Like wise, they need play head's up when in zone coverage.
Auburn's special teams have played lights out all season. Cody Parkey has been fantastic on kickoffs, placing the ball around the 5 yard line forcing opposing teams to return it. To compliment his kicks, the coverage team has done an outstanding job of pinning opposing teams deep in their own territory to start a drive.
Steven Clark, too, has done his job placing punts where they need to be to pin back opposing teams to help Auburn in the field position battle.
LSU has Brad Wing. I'll just leave it at that.
- Jordan-Hare Stadium. I've heard LSU fans comment that they "play like garbage" every time the teams meet in Auburn. Whether that is true or not, the home field advantage with 80,000 of your own fans cheering you on helps. If Auburn keeps it close into the second half, the crowd will do whatever it can to help the team.
- Offensive confidence. It seems as though Auburn's offense is THIS close to making plays that sustain drives, which ultimately turn into points. The only thing lacking is confidence to execute. It all starts with Frazier. If he keeps his head about him and will focus, this game could get interesting.
- Special teams "breakaway" plays. Both teams have outstanding special teams with the capability of scoring on a kickoff or punt return. Those type of plays excite and instill confidence in a team, and can turn the momentum of a game in a heartbeat. A kickoff or punt return to the house by Squirrel could electrify JHS and build momentum in Auburn's favor at a key point in the game.
First off, we'll predict that VanGorder's mustache will be as glorious as ever. We'll also go ahead an predict that Auburn will have at least one interception in this game, resulting from Mr. Lemonier and Mr. Ford introducing themselves to Zach Mettenberger on a regular basis. While we think Auburn will make great strides in effort and play at a much higher level than they did against, say, Mississippi State, LSU is simply a much more experienced team. We do, however, think Auburn keeps it closer than most expect. LSU wins this one 31-24. The defense will still have some tackling issues, but will be improved.
What do you think?
Don't agree with what you see here? Tell us what you think in the comments section below. And as always, War Eagle.