It’s hard to come back after an emotional night, no matter the outcome. Auburn had maybe its most emotional night, an evening of fiery passion if you will, last Saturday when Cadillac Williams led the Tigers out of the tunnel to take on fat pantload Jimbo Fisher. Jimbo got lost in his papers, Caddy held him to -2 yards in the third quarter, and the Tigers got a win in front of an absolutely unhinged Jordan-Hare Stadium.
It felt really freaking good to care again. It was a completely different feeling than we had the week prior in Starkville, mainly because the home atmosphere brought that extra something to support our interim head coach. We also hadn’t had something like that to look forward to in quite some time, thanks to one certain potato-minded fellow.
And while we’ve got just a couple of games left with Cadillac leading the way, making us all remember the days of your, and exuding a true innocence that we all wish we could capture forever, the ride will end at some point. It’s not likely that he’ll become our full-time head coach, but it is likely that whoever comes in to take over will recognize the important of keeping him on staff and his importance to the Auburn Family at large. That is, unless he can somehow beat Nick Saban in Tuscaloosa. Alas! Another supposition for another week.
Now, we’ve got a team that we should be able to out-talent, even though the spread is thin (Auburn -5.5). The Tigers have pretty much no passing game, and a quarterback that will make mistakes. However, what the defense has done over the past six quarters can’t be denied. Jeff Schmedding seemingly just needed to get someone out of his way and the players have taken playing for their fans and coaches to heart. They’ve been fantastic. Western Kentucky, however, features a dynamic passing attack and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Auburn should be able to control the clock on the ground and get whatever they want via Tank and Jarquez. Let’s win one more at home for Cadillac and then go into Tuscaloosa with house money.
WHEN WESTERN KENTUCKY HAS THE BALL: It’s gonna look like John Moxon out there.
You might have some folks counting receivers and surprised they get to their fifth finger in the process. That said, WKU is going to be tossing the ball over the field and probably hit about 50 passing attempts depending on how many possessions they get. Quarterback Austin Reed took over for Bailey Zappe (now with the Patriots), and continued his prolific performance. Reed’s thrown for more than 3,500 yards this season with 31 touchdowns and just 7 interceptions. He’s got targets galore, with four guys grabbing 40+ receptions, and they score pretty much through the air.
Auburn did a great job in pass rush last week against Texas A&M, and they figured it out against another Air Raid attack two weeks ago in Starkville. While the start of that game wasn’t pretty, Jeff Schmedding got himself an eyeful at what it’ll take to stop an offense like that, and he settled in after a couple of quarters. That can only help Auburn today.
WHEN AUBURN HAS THE BALL: I think you’re going to see a very similar strategy to last week. Run the dang ball. Cadillac knows the rushing game, and he’s going to employ that, especially against a lesser-talented foe. Auburn had two backs over 100 yards last week and I bet we see that again today. Tank Bigsby should get plenty of punishing runs and a boatload of yards after contact, while Jarquez Hunter likely breaks a big one or two. Auburn is going to want to control the clock and limit the opportunities that WKU gets with their passing attack.
Speaking of Auburn’s passing game, letting Robby Ashford put the ball in the air as few times as possible seems like a solid choice. He was awfully inaccurate last week, completely missing the most wide open touchdown pass he’ll ever have in college, and didn’t give Auburn much of a dynamic attack. I would like to see Holden Geriner play a little bit in this game, but I do believe it may be too close for comfort throughout.
SERIES HISTORY: Auburn holds a 2-0 lead in the all-time series, winning the first ever meeting 48-3 in 2003 behind a three-headed rushing attack of Brandon Jacobs, Ronnie Brown, and Cadillac Williams. The Tigers beat the Toppers 37-14 two years later in 2005 with Blake Field starting in place of Brandon Cox. Field threw for 3 touchdown passes and Kenny Irons cracked 100 yards to give Auburn an easy win.
LAST MEETING: Ugh, I just told you above. Auburn beat WKU 37-14 in 2005 with Blake Field throwing 3 touchdown passes and the defense pitching a shutout for the first 3 quarters.
LAST WEEK: Auburn got a wildly emotional win over Texas A&M with Cadillac Williams at head coach. The Tigers completely shut down the Aggie offense, allowing -2 yards in the third quarter, and won 13-10.
Western Kentucky beat the starch off of Rice 45-10 last week for their 7th win of the season.
TUCKER GREGG AWARD CANDIDATE: Take your pick. WKU boasts 4 receivers with over 40 catches, and the top two guys each have 7 touchdowns (Malachi Corley and Daewood Davis). This passing attack is going to give us fits, and I would imagine that there are multiple cussable players that we’ll see on this WKU offense.
RANDOM PREDICTION WITH NO BASIS IN REALITY: The long lost footage of the CSS broadcast of the 2003 Auburn/WKU game will be shown in some form or fashion so that they can show Cadillac Williams running against the Hilltopper defense.
KEYS FOR AUBURN:
- Lean on the run yet again. Auburn has done a great job running the ball since Cadillac took over, and you can see some of his old influence from his playing days filtering into the gameplan. Auburn ran for 256 yards in Starkville, and 270 yards last Saturday at home, and you figure you’ll see that total inch up yet again. Tank Bigsby should be able to feast against a lower tier of athlete, and the WKU defense hasn’t had to go up against anyone that can really run the ball this season. So, it’s 300+ yards or bust for this offense.
- Pass rush has to duplicate the effort from the Texas A&M game. WKU is going to throw the ball 50 times, we just need to see hurries on about half of those pass attempts, about 5 sacks, and plenty of QB hits. Colby Wooden got SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week, and he needs to play with the same angry disposition we saw last Saturday. Him and Derick Hall should be able to disrupt the line and its timing in the passing game, but we need these guys to limit the chances that WKU has when they’re on offense. A turnover or two wouldn’t hurt either.
- Keep that same energy from last week. Oh my goodness, what an atmosphere we had. Yes, it was at night, and yes, it was against Jimbo Fisher, who we don’t like. But Auburn delivered, and the Tiger fans need to come back to see this team take another win. Auburn can absolutely beat this team with a solid effort but not an elite one, and they deserve the support they got last weekend.