Florida's Foes: Auburn Tigers

By Brett Kaplan

The October gauntlet continues for the Gators. After a better than the stats show start from QB Jacoby Brissett, he’ll get the call at Jordan-Hare Stadium Saturday night. Good news is he’s not facing LSU, one of the toughest secondaries and overall defenses in the country again. Once again, there are plenty of storylines to talk about here. Especially the fact that Florida head coach Will Muschamp was a graduate assistant and the defensive coordinator for the Tigers for two years (2006-2007). Or how about how Auburn head coach Gene Chizik played at Florida in 1981 under Charlie Pell. Or how about both were defensive coordinators under Mack Brown at Texas.

Auburn University, located in Auburn, Alabama, was founded in 1856. Auburn is nicknamed the tigers and their mascot is called Aubie. They also have a pregame ritual at their stadium, Jordan Hare, where a golden eagle named Spirit flys around the stadium. The Tigers battle cry is “War Eagle” in honor of Spirit. Auburn is also the defending national champions, beating the Oregon Ducks on a field goal at the last second to win the BCS National Championship in Glendale, AZ. Overall, Auburn leads the series 42-38-2 and at Auburn, they have a commanding lead at 28-5-1. Florida hasn’t won in Auburn since 1999. Gene Chizik is the head coach at Auburn and holds a 26-7 mark at the school with this being his third year at the helm. Auburn has won seven SEC titles, two in the championship game format with the latest being last year. Auburn has also won two national championships: Last years triumph and in 1957. Auburn is 4-2 on the season and 2-1 in the SEC. Auburn has beaten Utah State, #16 at the time Mississippi State, Florida Atlantic, and #10 at the time South Carolina, with losses to Clemson and #10 Arkansas.

Considered to be the strength of this team because of offense coordinator and mastermind Gus Malzahn, the offense hasn’t really been that special. An quarterback Barrett Trotter, who had some pretty big shoes to fill with the departure of Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton, has struggled in his first season as starting QB. Trotter has thrown for 976 yards and nine touchdowns with six interceptions. There have been whispers in Auburn that there’s a QB controversy, but Chizik has squashed that, saying Trotter is their QB. but other QBs may see some time. Trotter’s favorite receivers are WR Emory Blake with 19 catches for 333 yards and four touchdowns and Travante Stallworth with 11 receptions for 204 yards and one TD. The strength of this offense is its running game with bruising back Michael Dyer (124 carries, 679 yards, 8 TDs) and quick back Onterrio McCalebb (56 rushes, 312 yards). McCalebb has also been beneficial in the passing game as well, catching 18 balls for 201 yards and a TD. For the season, Auburn scores 27.8 points per game (65th in the nation), rushing for 204 yards per game, while passing for 170.7 yards per game for a total of 374.7 yards per game.

This unit has been much maligned throughout the entire season. They’ve been shred up like swiss cheese. Safety Neiko Thorpe leads the team with 47 tackles, two interceptions, and one fumble recovery. When a safety leads your team in tackles, that usually means your defense isn’t very good because the opponent’s offense is getting to the second level. On the season, the Tigers allow 29.2 points per game (good for 79th in the country), 201.8 yards rushing, 237.7 yards passing, for a total of 439.5 yards. Not very stellar and dead last in the SEC.

Auburn has beaten some pretty good teams, given some really bad teams a chance to win games, and lost to some pretty good teams. The defense is a problem and unless they step it up, it could be a difficult season for the Tigers. Against Florida, the defense will need to contain speedy backs Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps to have a chance. The Gators will start true freshman QB Jacoby Brissett for his second straight game. If they can get pressure on him, they can have a chance. But it won’t matter if they can’t stop the run. On the other side of the ball, Trotter, or whoever the Tigers throw out at QB needs to be effective with the Gators young secondary. But if the Gators want to win the game, they need to key in and stop RB Michael Dyer. Backs like Dyer have caused Florida to lose their past two games. I think Florida can do it, if not because Auburn’s not really going to scare you in any other way.

Final Score:
Florida 28, Auburn 21

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