The Auburn Fabulous Freebirds started the season on fire. They were 5-0 after a win against Tennessee two weeks ago, and then things fell apart, especially for their offense under heralded coordinator Gus Malzahn. They lost the next two weeks to Arkansas and Kentucky, not looking good either week.
Here are Auburn's point totals in each week so far this season: 37, 49, 41, 54, 26, 23, 14. Here are the yardage totals for Auburn in each of those games: 556, 589, 400, 560, 459, 375, 315. You can see a clear trend down in the last two weeks. Points-wise, the trend started against Tennessee. Incidentally, the second half of that Tennessee game is also where Jonathan Crompton started playing pretty well. Any thoughts on whether that started Auburn's backsliding?
If you want to break it down further, here are the passing yards in those games: 255, 199, 300, 306, 235, 133, 95. Except for Ben Tate, the Auburn offense has been downright ugly for the last two games, and it has started with the struggles of Chris Todd and the passing game. Ben Tate has averaged over 150 yards rushing in those two games. So yeah, there's Ben Tate.
The defense has been good at times, but inconsistent. An offense that puts a premium on snapping the ball quickly and maximizing the number of plays is naturally going to also maximize the number of defensive plays, which is going to skew yardage stats against, but this is a defense that gave up 509 yards of offense to West Virginia and won. They gave up 410 yards to Tennessee and won. In the last two weeks, they've given up 495 yards to Arkansas in a hideous loss and 385 yards to Kentucky. They gave up less than 300 yards to Louisiana Tech, Mississippi State, and Ball State.
Keep in mind, LSU's maximum yardage on the season was 368 against Georgia. We've gone over 300 yards 4 times, and got less than 200 against Florida.
That makes this a really interesting game. I think Auburn will try to run right at us like Florida did. Auburn may be a spread team, but they still run the ball better than they throw it. We'll see two quarterbacks, as Auburn will bring Kodi Burns into the game to provide a run/pass mix, though they've primarily stuck with Chris Todd so far. Chris Todd does not get sacked much, as Auburn has given up only 5 sacks in 7 games. It will be difficult for us to put pressure on him, so we may sit in a zone and try to force throws into coverage. I have confidence in John Chavis and the defense to hold the sometimes-explosive Auburn offense in check, but can our offense take advantage of the opportunities the Auburn defense gives?
Auburn has a poor secondary that has been depleted by injuries. They are vulnerable to our talented wide receiver corps. It is time for our coaches to trust Jordan Jefferson to be able to get the ball to them. For that matter, it is time for Jordan Jefferson to mature as a quarterback and get the ball to Brandon Lafell and Terrance Toliver over the middle of the field, where the opportunities will come. Auburn does not generate a ton of sacks, registering less than 2 per game, so Jefferson should have opportunities to let routes develop and get receivers the ball. This is a game where, if he makes some strides in his development and has a good game, it could set up LSU for a very good season, and Jefferson for a great career.
Now is the time, young man.