We’ve been waiting for this one.
While the news that Cadillac got the head coaching job was fantastic, we didn’t have a whole lot of time to process it before the game in Starkville last week. And while the Tigers didn’t win, we got to see a team that actually cared and was excited about getting out there on the field and playing for a head coach. And we got to see a head coach care about them.
Cadillac’s speech in the locker room after that game did not speak to a team that thought it was going to fold. It was proof of the concept that you can care about your squad and they can reciprocate those feelings in return. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we never got any video of Bryan Harsin postgame locker room speeches.
Either way, there are still things to play for this season. Namely, beat Jimbo Fisher and his band of mercenaries, who seem to not care at all about playing football for Texas A&M. Auburn could still reach a bowl game, but they’d have to win out and that includes a victory in Tuscaloosa. At the very least, we can annoy the hell out of everyone we play, and I think we can steal a win over a team that’s spiraling in the wrong direction tonight.
WHEN TEXAS A&M HAS THE BALL: Quick, what has infinite money and no production? It’s the Texas A&M offense. For all of the cash that Aggie boosters shelled out this year, they’ve gotten a hilariously low ROI from Jimbo Fisher. Three different quarterbacks have played, with Haynes King starting the season and performing at an incredibly low level. Then Max Johnson, the LSU transfer, came in and did a little better, but now it’s Connor Weigman. And then wait, it’s Haynes King again. It’s exhausting keeping up with this rotation.
King played against Florida last week, but didn’t do anything of consequence. Instead, Auburn will have to watch out for Devon Achane, who’s an outright threat and a star at tailback. On the year he’s got over 1,000 yards from scrimmage and 9 touchdowns, but his yards per touch average has shrunk from previous years. That’s due to a similar problem that Auburn’s got — offensive line.
There is one huge problem on the perimeter, and that’s freshman Evan Stewart. He’s going to be an All-SEC performer before he leaves College Station, but we really expect that he’ll be an All-American under Lane Kiffin next year on the Plains. With 46 catches this year, he’ll be the favored target for whichever quarterback plays. Along with Moose Muhammad III and Ainias Smith, there’s talent on the edge, but A&M has to have the line to protect and the quarterback to get the ball distributed properly.
WHEN AUBURN HAS THE BALL: It’s going to be more of the same, but with a heavy emphasis on running the ball yet again. Robby Ashford is going to play at quarterback, and while you might think that avoiding the middle of this Aggie defense would be the key. NOT. They’re not good at stopping the run, ranking near the bottom of the land in rush defense.
If the Tigers can get some big plays through the air, which may be a big ask, this game could get broken wide open. Realistically, you’ve now had a full standard week of game prep to figure out the offense. Coaches aren’t going to be trying to find certain plays on the call sheet, they’re going to know which calls to make and who needs to be where. This isn’t a week of chaos, it’s a standard week for Auburn. Being at home will help as well, you’re not trying to figure out a new stadium, new coaches’ box, new headset system, all that jazz.
Auburn just needs to lean on the Aggies, run the ball, and use that crowd in the fourth quarter to make things happen and get Cadillac a win.
SERIES HISTORY: Texas A&M leads the all-time series 7-5, but the majority of these games have been played since the Aggies joined the SEC in 2012. It’s been a back and forth matchup, with A&M sitting on a two-game winning streak before Auburn won three straight from 2017-2019.
LAST MEETING: It was decidedly not fun last season in College Station, in a loss that essentially started the Bryan Harsin decline. Auburn was coming off of their biggest win of the last two seasons, the nighttime affair over Ole Miss. They went into College Station and just got shut down and Bo Nix had one of his worst games in an Auburn jersey. He threw one interception and then had an unforced fumble that got returned for a touchdown. A 9-3 game at the start of the fourth quarter turned into a 20-3 loss where the Auburn offense got nothing done and gained just 226 total yards.
LAST WEEK: While Auburn lost at Mississippi State in overtime last week, fortunes were decidedly better than they had been all season long. The Tigers got a big second half boost and played well in coming back from a 24-3 hole. They lost, but got the mojo back under Cadillac Williams.
Texas A&M also lost, but they were at home and Florida handed them a 41-24 defeat. The Aggies led 24-20 at halftime, but got shutout in the second half and let the Gators score three straight touchdowns as well as hit 291 rushing yards in the win.
TUCKER GREGG AWARD CANDIDATE: Texas A&M doesn’t have many guys on offense, so this is going to be a Devon Achane game. Achane scored three times against Florida and him going against the Auburn run defense is not something that I want to have to witness.
RANDOM PREDICTION WITH NO BASIS IN REALITY: Camden Brown assumes the Seth Williams role and clowns an Aggie defender, as is tradition.
KEYS FOR AUBURN:
- Run the ball, apparently. A&M is supposed to be just lined up with five-stars across the defensive front, but that hasn’t helped at all lately. They gave up 291 yards on 50 carries to Florida, 390 yards on 63 carries to Ole Miss, and 286 yards on 51 carries to Alabama. That’s all just in the last four weeks! With the increased emphasis on the run game under Cadillac’s leadership I’m sure we’ll see more of that tonight. Auburn ran for 256 yards on 46 carries last week, and that follows a 300-yard performance against Ole Miss. They’re starting to make it work, but this staff is going back to its roots.
- Hit Connor Weigman. Real hard. Here’s where we need to embrace the Harsin “ARE YOU REALLY HARD?” mentality and sit Weigman down in the backfield. I’m excited at the possibility of Derick Hall going supernova with the crowd support we’re going to see tonight. Him, Colby Wooden, and the rest of the crew need to make it known early that Weigman, or whoever is thrown out there, doesn’t have much time. I would venture a guess that tonight’s going to be the most unhinged atmosphere that the Aggies are going to see this year.
- Feed off of this crowd. You’re playing with house money, so why not parlay that in front of this crowd just waiting to explode. I’m betting that we’re going to see an atmosphere that rivals Novembers of 2017, 2013, and Florida in 2006. Take a chance with a trick play, a blitz, and let the crowd pick you back up after A&M has a big play. We saw what Auburn fans were willing to support when LSU came to town and Harsin was still in charge. With one of our own running the show, this will be like The Who is playing for 3.5 hours in terms of decibel level.