Tennessee Volunteers vs. Auburn Tigers: game preview

Um, uh-oh. You'd think that coming off that Florida game we'd be due a breather or something, but NOOOoooooo. Auburn appears to have more advantages over Tennessee than did Florida. As with our game against the Gators, both defenses appear to be better than both offenses. Unfortunately for Vol fans, it's looking like Tennessee's advantages end there while Auburn's merely begin.

Stat charts after the jump, but first the keys to the game:

  • Offensive nightmare looms for both teams. Tennessee and Auburn are both strugglign struggling (as I am with typos, apparently) offensively, but their defenses are not bad at all. Whichever offense can find itself will likely win.
  • Neither team has passed the ball well to date.
  • Third downs are again key. When Auburn has the ball on 3rd down, it'll be a matter of which unit is least bad. When Tennessee has the ball on 3rd down, watch out, because the Vols aren't terrific and Auburn is.
  • Robert Dunn = Brandon James. Do not punt to this man. If Tennessee gives up a punt return for a TD to Dunn, we'll be done, "done" having a multitude of negative negative negative meanings.

Okay, so the stats:

Tennessee rush
v.
Auburn defense
Tennessee pass
v.
Auburn defense
Auburn rush
v.
Tennessee defense
Auburn pass
v.
Tennessee defense
41
67
26
23
19
25
47
88
Auburn logo
Auburn logo
Tennessee logo
Tennessee logo
Field Goals
Tennessee punting
v.
Auburn punt return
Auburn punting
v.
Tennessee punt return
Intangibles
NR
118
44
T-44
7
31
Auburn logo
Auburn logo
Auburn logo
Auburn logo

Here's how the teams look next to each other in each of the key statistical categories currently used in the RTT Ready, Fire, Aim BlogPoll Computer Ballot:

Rank
Team
WL
SOS
PED
RD
3DO
TD
PEO
EXP
OPPG
TO
3DD
AVG R
W AVG
45
Auburn logo
28
85
25
19
112
20
95
84
10
73
1
50.18
359.91
70
Tennessee logo
80
91
23
26
64
22
94
45
48
55
98
58.73
482.45

Both teams have compiled all of those stats against a handful of teams that are Not Very Good and one national championship contender. A closer look at the teams' respective strength of schedule metrics reveals that the Vols and the Tigers have played just about the same level of competition so far this season:

Tennessee logo
Auburn logo
Opponent Result Record
at UCLA  L 27-24 0-1 (0-0)
UAB  W 35-3 1-1 (0-0)
No. 4 Florida  L 30-6 1-2 (0-1)
SOS: .333 (2-4)
Opponent Result Record
Louisiana-Monroe  W 34-0 1-0 (0-0)
Southern Miss  W 27-13 2-0 (0-0)
at Mississippi State  W 3-2 3-0 (1-0)
No. 6 LSU  L 26-21 3-1 (1-1)
SOS: .375 (3-5)

So what's it all mean?

  • The biggest difference between the two teams right now is that Tennessee has lost to one of its Not Very Good Opponents while Auburn has Taken Care of Business.
  • Each team's strength is its defense, and each team's offense is struggling with a steep learning curve resulting from the double whammy of attempting to implement a brand new offensive scheme with a brand new quarterback. Whichever team can find its legs first wins. The Tigers may have found theirs against LSU. Note that Auburn installed its new offense before the bowl game last year, while we were spending our time looking for a new offensive coordinator.
  • The teams' numbers are fairly even in the key statistical categories of pass efficiency defense, rush defense, and total defense. The teams appear to be equally inept in pass efficiency offense.
  • Third downs are going to be absolutely key. Auburn is deplorable offensively on 3rd down. Unfortunately for us, Tennessee is nearly deplorable defensively on 3rd down. The real danger for Vol fans is that Tennessee is only middle-of-the-road decent when it has the ball on third down, and it'll be going against the best 3rd down defense in the nation.
  • The one reason for optimism is that Tennessee's offense appears to be a little bit better than Auburn's. Huh.
  • The uh-oh stat: The Vols are ranked second-to-last in the nation in net punting. Auburn's Robert Dunn is ranked 8th in the nation in punt returns. For the sake of comparison, Florida's Brandon James is 6th on that list. With defenses like this, there will be punts, but if Tennessee decides to punt to Dunn and he runs one back for a TD, there will be ugly on Rocky Top like we've never seen.
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