There’s no secret to the success of the Auburn Tigers in 2013. They have dominated teams with the No. 1 rushing attack in the country this season, averaging 335.7 yards on the ground per game on their way to an SEC Championship and a spot in the BCS National Championship. But if Auburn hopes to come out on top against the Florida State Seminoles in Pasadena this January, they’ll need some big plays in the passing game from Sammie Coates to keep the Noles honest and break off big gains over the top.
Coates made a name for himself this season as a big-play threat in the Auburn passing game. Despite catching just 38 passes on the year, Coates ranked No. 6 in the SEC in receiving yards as he gained 841 yards at a clip of 22.13 yards per reception and seven touchdowns on the year. He doesn’t get a lot of opportunities to make plays during a game but he has made the most of just about all of them and is a threat to score a long touchdown every time he gets his hands on the ball.
That explosive playmaking could come in handy against FSU who boasts one of the best defenses in the country this season. One of their biggest strengths has been the tackling ability of the secondary and the Noles have counted on them to come up in support of the run. If they come up too quickly on Nick Marshall or Tre Mason in the running game, expect Gus Malzahn to call a play-action pass to get Coates loose over the top to put up a quick-strike score.
Forcing Florida State to play the entire field and not allow them to load up against the run will be a huge key for Auburn to win the BCS National Championship. To achieve that balance, Sammie Coates will have to come up with a big play in the passing game, breaking off a huge gain behind the defense the hurts FSU for cheating up against the running game.