None among us were correct last week. We all picked Auburn to beat Clemson on the road, and we all came up on the wrong end of those predictions.
We had good reasoning, and for about 29 minutes, we all thought we had the right stuff.
Instead, Auburn lost 14-6, sending the Tigers to 1-1 with a Homecoming date against Mercer here at home inside Jordan-Hare Stadium. I don’t think there’s any way Auburn comes close to seeing a competitive effort from Mercer. I don’t think there’s a likelihood that Mercer even scores on Saturday. That said, let’s get the predictions.
This has to be a get-right game. Don't worry about putting too much on film. Execute your passing game against something other than the scout team. If you throw a couple picks, that's okay. Get better.
If Pettway plays more than the first quarter, I'll be shocked. Martin, Miller, and Barrett are better than anybody they have. It's also a good time to see some reserves on the defensive side. That'll be when Mercer breaks the shutout.
Auburn 44, Mercer 7
SON OF CROW
I'm predicting Auburn to air the ball out the entire first half. Both Stidham and Lindsay need a big passing game to justify a lot of their hype. I think a ton of points are scored as the offense tries to work on a lot of different things.
Auburn 70, Mercer 10
Unlike most of these games, I think Auburn's offense is going to really go full speed. Auburn 63 Mercer 10.
What I think happens and what will happen will probably be much different. I want to see AU come out and work on their passing game. Give our tackles more live reps in pass protection, allow Stidham to get more comfortable and in rhythm. What I suspect happens is what always happens in games like this under Malzahn. AU will rush for 400+ yds and throw it maybe 15 times. Either way, I suspect this one isn't close. Mercer might get a score late against AU's 3rd team defense but that’s probably it.
Auburn 52, Mercer 10
As much as it pains me to call Mercer a cupcake, I suspect this will be a typical Gus cupcake game plan. Pettway gets 150 yards and 2 scores. Redzone struggles persist and Carlson tacks on a few chip shots. Take a few deep shots and maybe hit on one or two. Look somewhat sloppy or disinterested at times. Disappear in the 3rd quarter. Play solid defense and hope for no injuries.
I don't expect to see much work on the passing game. OL needs reps against pass rush, WRs need to clean up routes, coaches need to implement an intermediate passing game. Why would they? Things look good in practice in shorts and shells, right?
Tigers win 47-10.
Regardless of what the offense does, the defense should make this game a cakewalk. If Mercer gets past midfield more than two or three times, I'd be surprised, which should lead to short fields for our offense. As we saw in the difference between Southern and Clemson, our offense *should* be able to handle a weak Bear defense, so I'm thinking this one should be a blowout. I'll take 49*-3 Auburn.
*Notice I gave a number which doesn't allow for field goals. If Daniel Carlson is kicking in any situation except for 4th and 10 or more, I won't be happy. We need the conversion practice.
This one gets ugly quickly. Auburn can come out and do their usual stuff on offense and roll Mercer.
My guess is Bubba is limited and Martin gets a lotta touches.
Hopefully some things get worked on in the passing game as well.
Show no Mercer!
I’d love to see us come out and go with a nearly-completely passing-oriented offense, but I really don’t think that’ll be the case. Perhaps Gus has heard the grumbling a little more this week than he has in the past, and that’ll make him try some different things. There’s a choice here between actually improving in a game and not looking as sharp because you’re fixing stuff, which the casual fan sees as “not dominating an inferior opponent”, and going out, running your superior athletes and getting 400+ rushing yards on the way to a 50-point win, which pleases the casual fan but does nothing to help the team get better.
I’ll err on the side of optimism this week. Jarrett Stidham and the offensive line get actual real work in, he throws for 250 and a couple of long touchdowns in the first half, we see the Sean White show for much of the second half, and Auburn’s defense does its thing, shutting out Mercer.
Auburn 52, Mercer 0