So, somehow, I forgot to do this post last week. I'm still trying to figure out how. The information wasn't even in my AUperations Order as it was this week.
You can click on that line for a military-style order preview of this week's game. You can click this one for a look back at the past and how it might relate, maybe, somehow, ok, probably not, to this game.
For a serious preview, let's just take a look at a few factors.
When Arkansas State Has The Ball
The Red Wolves lost a lot of production from last year's team, as I mentioned in two Q&As. They're replaced start QB Fredi Knighton with a graduate transfer QB in Chad Voytik. Against Toledo in Game 1 he was... less than stellar. He threw for 11/24 and 124 yards. Voytik can move with the ball, though. He was also the Red Wolves' second leading rusher. Auburn has to make sure they account for that and not treat him as just a pocket QB. A game plan similar to last week's to contain Deshaun Watson (though a bit more aggressive on attacking the QB in the pocket) should shut down the Red Wolves' attack through the air and keep Voytik contained.
Auburn will rotate defensive linemen in this game similar to the last few seasons. The benches could clear in this one, and that's not necessarily a slight against the Red Wolves. It's just the nature of how Auburn works on the line. The good news for Auburn's secondary is that they're not dealing with a combination like Watson to Mike Williams this week. The coverage should be excellent, the linebackers will fly to the ball, and with stAte struggling to move and convert points at home against Toledo, I just don't see them doing much against an Auburn defense that wants to re-establish that classic Auburn Defense mentality.
When Auburn Has The Ball
Sean White needs to be free to run the offense. And not just part of it. He has to be free to keep on the zone read. I'm not saying he needs to run it like Nick Marshall did, but the option and choice has to be there for him to keep and carry the football. This is the perfect game to do that in. Let him show the country that he's capable of doing it in this game and maybe it'll keep the A&Ms and LSUs a bit more honest in the next two weeks.
The Tigers have to get back to running the football. The second half saw a vast improvement in that last weekend with Kerry Johnson showing his moves. Auburn needs to get Pettway involved and also get the jet sweep back in. Will we see Kam Martin get his first action? Stanton Truitt and Ryan Davis are options, there, too.
Arkansas State has some good transfers on their team, including Dee Liner, who transferred from Alabama. They've dealt with some illness over the last week, but they're still going to be motivated after last week's performance. That game was at home though; this will be a night game at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
The Red Wolves' total defense last year was not that great. Their takeaways, though, were spectacular. They were great at getting interceptions. Of course, they also over-pursued to get those INTs and ended up allowing the most 20+ yard passing plays than any other team in the nation. Passing plays should be there if Auburn can take advantage of them.
The key question for Auburn will be what they do in the red zone. When the Tigers went back to last year's type of game plan in the second half, they moved into the red zone multiple times. They just couldn't get points. I'm sure this team will be able to do the same against Arkansas State. The question will be what plays are called and what Auburn does once they get there.
We'll find out how things go tonight.
How to Watch:
Time: 6:30pm Central
TV: SEC Network
Listen: Auburn Network