Here we are again. Auburn football takes on Ole Miss today in Oxford, and the Tigers are reeling after consecutive losses and a 42-10 whipping in Athens last week. Meanwhile, Ole Miss has a fun coach, a productive offense, a salty defense, a slew of our old players, and a perfect record.
We know what’s going on. Bryan Harsin is going to get fired at some point in the near future, and Auburn needs it to happen so that the team can heal and get better. There’s been a coaching malfeasance occurring this season, with most of the staff underperforming and neglecting essential aspects of their duty. Aside from one or two key areas of the team, each position group has been bad and has shown no sign of growth or improvement. While playing a team like Georgia can highlight the awful offensive line play, going to Ole Miss can expose you just the same.
WHEN OLE MISS HAS THE BALL: The Rebels are leaning a little more on the run game in 2022. They were second in the league in rushing last year, and they’re right back in that spot again this year with Jaxson Dart leading the offense. He’s been pretty solid with 8 TDs/5 INTs and a 64% completion percentage, but the run game has been their forte.
Quinshon Judkins is a star already as a freshman, and we’d love to have him on the roster with Tank Bigsby ostensibly spending his last season on the Plains. He’s got 8 scores through 6 games, and he’s on pace for a 1,000-yard season as a rookie. Zach Evans is also right there as one of the top players in the country coming out of high school, posting a 5.9 ypc average with 6 scores of his own.
Dart has some good targets, as Ole Miss has been wont to toss out on the perimeter as of late. Jonathan Mingo is the big threat, averaging 23 yards per catch. We’ll also see a good bit of Malik Heath (leads the team in catches) and Michael Trigg in the passing game as well.
WHEN AUBURN HAS THE BALL: Like I said the last couple of weeks, this section gets more and more depressing each game. If it’s not clear, we don’t want to write about what the Auburn offense is doing. It’s not fun. Robby Ashford is trying, but he doesn’t have any help up front, and the meat of the conference schedule is going to be hard for him. He only completed a third of his passes last week, and today against Ole Miss’ defense won’t be much easier.
Our offensive line has to get better, but won’t. Watching some of those clips of the guys completely ignoring free rushers and flopping onto the ground with nobody touching them was embarrassing. Will Friend’s coaching job this year has been completely unacceptable. We don’t have a whole lot of talent up front, but you can at least make sure they’re blocking the right guys.
As long as that’s an issue, we’re not going to have much success in the run game. Tank and Jarquez are getting wasted back there, and each guy is getting hit way too early. Tank has 147 yards against Mercer, averaging 9.2 yards per carry. Since then, he’s had 63 carries for 198 yards. Awful.
SERIES HISTORY: Auburn holds a 35-10 series lead in the fight with Ole Miss, and the Tigers have won 6 straight games dating back to the 2015 Laquon Treadwell revenge game defeat. Ole Miss has only beaten Auburn in 2016, 2012, 2008, and 2003 this millennium.
LAST MEETING: Auburn held on at home as Lane Kiffin went fourth-down crazy, and the Tigers got a big night from Bo Nix with 276 yards passing and 2 rushing scores, while Tank Bigsby went off for 140 yards and a touchdown in a 31-20 win under the lights. It was Auburn’s last win of the 2021 season and the last win over a P5 team until the Missouri affair a couple of weeks ago.
LAST WEEK: Auburn got drilled by Georgia 42-10, and Ole Miss overcame a slow start against Vandy in a 52-28 win to stay perfect.
TUCKER GREGG AWARD CANDIDATE: It’s going to be Quinshon Judkins, especially since we let him get away and now he’s a star in the making in Oxford. He’s got 8 touchdowns and 579 yards on a 6.0 ypc average as a freshman, and it’ll be tough seeing him running for the Rebels when Tank leaves after this season.
RANDOM PREDICTION WITH NO BASIS IN REALITY: Lane Kiffin is going to run some sort of spicy formation that gets everyone hot and bothered on the Plains and we’re going to continue speculating about what he could do on our sideline in 2023. This is actually fully based in reality.
KEYS FOR AUBURN:
- Turnovers. Auburn has to win the turnover battle something fierce. Last week the Tigers were even with Georgia with a single fumble apiece. As you can see, that didn’t help. Auburn’s been abysmal with turnovers this season in general, and in a game on the road against a team that can put up 50 points on a bunch of teams, you need to be super clean. Auburn needs a big positive margin in the turnover game today, and you’d like to see some of those turnovers happen deep in Ole Miss territory.
- The offense has to be able to keep the defense off the field. Ole Miss is averaging 241 ypg on the ground (9th nationally), and this is an offense that moves fast but will also be able to keep the ball if they want to. Our offense has to come up with 2-3 lengthier drives to help give the defense a rest and produce some points of their own.
- Get rid of Bryan Harsin. This isn’t an in-game key, but it’s something that’ll help Auburn immensely. Whenever we finally do it, which needs to be after this game and heading into the open date, the team can start to get better.