Tennessee Volunteers vs. Auburn Tigers: somebody stop that offense!

 

A weekly look at our upcoming opponent's recent history, with animated drive charts and links to SB Nation game pages.

Keys to the game

  • This game features Auburn's high-powered, well-balanced offense going against a stingy Monte Kiffin defense and Tennessee's high-powered but unbalanced offense against a not-so-stingy Auburn defense. For that reason, expect a bit of the "Florida Plan," with Tennessee's appetite equal portions clock and yardage to keep Gus Malzahn's offense off the field as much as possible.
  • Turnovers and, to a lesser degree, special teams may decide this game. Which is why . . .
  • . . . my prediction is . . . Auburn 28, Tennessee 26.

Schedule and Animated Drive Charts

Auburn Logo
Opponent
Date
W/L
Score
Opp. W/L
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs
9/5/09
W
1-2
Mississippi St. Bulldogs
9/12/09
W
2-2
West Virginia Mountaineers
9/19/09
W
2-1
Ball St. Cardinals
9/26/09
W
0-4
Totals  
4-0
181-97
5-9

 

FULL SCREEN VERSION

 

Well. It appeared to be a fairly tight game against Louisiana Tech (proud owner of one of college football's worst logos) right up until the end of the Festival of Turnovers. Chalk that up to the how-do-you-work-this-thing-new-offense jitters. Post-game quotes of note from Track Em Tigers: "How about these stats: 556 yards of offense with 327 coming in the second half and 301 yards rushing. . . . We still don't know much about this 2009 Auburn team, but it looks better than anything we saw last season. At this point we can ask for little more."

FULL SCREEN VERSION

 

Hmm. Offense just keeps rolling right along with seven touchdowns against Mississippi State. Post-game quotes of note:

The Bulldogs had few answers for the Auburn offense, which posted 589 total yards. The passing game, plagued by dropped balls, didn't fare quite as well as last week against Louisiana Tech, but it was adequate, with no interceptions, and 8.0 net yards per pass. The running game thrived again, picking up 395 yards, an average of 6.6 yards per carry. McCalebb and Tate were AGAIN both over 100 yards. Darvin Adams picked up 5 catches for 115 yards, despite two drops.
FULL SCREEN VERSION

 

Wowza. The drive chart makes it look like West Virginia had this game won until that poor Mountaineer quarterback threw four interceptions on four consecutive drives late in the second half. Even we haven't done that. Yet. (And if we have, please don't make me remember because I like it this way.)

FULL SCREEN VERSION

 

Snooze. Another game, another seven touchdowns. Must get boring. Right? Right? Hello!

So . . . four games. 21 touchdowns, 12 through the air and 9 on the ground. Auburn has put up 2,100 yards of offense already this season. Sure, make whatever accounting you want for the schedule to date, but . . . wow. To give it a little perspective, the Wargle Tigers had 19 touchdowns and 3600 yards of offense the entire 2008 season.

National Unit Rankings

Now on to the national rankings.

Category National
Rank
Actual National
Leader
Actual Conf
Rank
SEC
Leader
Actual
Rushing Offense 5 261.25 Air Force 319.00 2 Florida 307.50
Passing Offense 27 265.00 Hawaii 423.33 2 Arkansas 348.67
Total Offense T-3 526.25 Texas A&M 574.33 1 Auburn 526.25
Scoring Offense 3 45.25 Texas 49.50 2 Florida 45.50
Rushing Defense 82 154.00 Oklahoma 40.67 10 Alabama 47.25
Pass Efficiency Defense 28 101.26 Florida 75.31 6 Florida 75.31
Total Defense 41 327.75 North Carolina St. 201.25 8 Alabama 202.50
Scoring Defense 69 24.25 Oklahoma 4.67 10 Florida 7.25
Net Punting 102 32.57 BYU 43.70 10 Georgia 43.31
Punt Returns 111 2.89 Louisiana Tech 45.50 11 Alabama 18.81
Kickoff Returns 84 20.36 Stanford 41.67 10 Florida 34.50
Turnover Margin T-5 1.75 Arizona St. 3.33 1 LSU 1.75
Pass Defense 34 173.75 Eastern Mich. 78.00 8 Vanderbilt 106.25
Passing Efficiency 6 168.70 Hawaii 180.65 3 Florida 173.93
Sacks T-31 2.50 Texas A&M 4.67 5 South Carolina 3.50
Tackles For Loss T-59 5.75 Oklahoma 11.33 7 Alabama 8.00
Sacks Allowed 1 .50 Pittsburgh .50 1 Auburn .50

 

Observations

Offense. Like I was harping on up there in the drive chart section, these aren't your last year's Warglers. Their rushing offense is currently ranked 5th in the nation with about 261 yards per game, and their passing game isn't far behind, ranking 27th with 265 yards per game. Those 526 yards per game is good for 3rd in the nation and first in the SEC. They're like Florida with downfield threats in the passing game. The good news is that Monte's defense is currently ranked 8th in the nation, holding its opponents to 233 yards per game. We held Florida to 323 yards and 23 points, so that's probably your best case scenario.

Defense. Well, here's a bit of good news: Auburn's defense is only mediocre across the board and is especially vulnerable against the run. Auburn ranks 82nd in the nation and 10th in the SEC in rush defense. The Vols' prior opponents currently rank 120 (guess who!), 9th, 19th, and 108th in the same category, and we put up 380, 115, 208, and 177 yards against them. That 177 yards is a bit of an outlier as it came against Ohio, a game in which we were largely foregoing the run in a desperate attempt to fix our passing game. I'd say we should expect something over 200 and under 250 yards rushing, which incidentally is less than what we're likely to give up to them on the ground.

Special teams. So far, Auburn's proven to be no real threat in any facet of the special teams game. Perhaps this would be a good time for Nu'Keese Richardson or David Oku to break a long one.

Turnovers. The Tigers are tied for 5th in the nation in turnover margin, having taken 4 fumbles and 8 interceptions while giving away only 3 fumbles and two interceptions.

Stastical Comparison

Here's how the two teams stack up against each other in each of the key statistical categories in hooper's wizbang BlogPoll Computerer:

Rank Team WL SOS PED RD 3DO TD PEO OPPG TO 3DD
25
Auburn Logo
1
102
28
82
14
41
6
69
3
91
34
Auburn Logo
60
28
30
15
55
8
86
33
60
41

 

Players to watch for

Category Player National
Rank
Actual
Rushing Ben Tate 17 103.00
  Onterio McCalebb 31 91.25
Passing Efficiency (Min. 15 Att./Game) Chris Todd 6 171.05
Total Offense Chris Todd 32 252.25
  Ben Tate   103.00
  Onterio McCalebb   91.25
Receptions Per Game Darvin Adams T-58 5.00
  Mario Fannin   3.25
  Terrell Zachery   2.75
Receiving Yards Per Game Darvin Adams 40 83.50
  Terrell Zachery 61 69.00
  Mario Fannin   55.50
Interceptions Neiko Thorpe   .25
  Josh Bynes   .25
  T'Sharvan Bell   .25
  Daren Bates   .25
  Craig Stevens   .25
  Antonio Coleman   .25
  Walter McFadden   .25
  Jake Ricks   .25
Punting (Min. 3.6 Punts/Game)      
Punt Returns (Min. 1.2 Ret./Game) Anthony Gulley 66 4.80
Kickoff Returns (Min. 1.2 Ret./Game) Mario Fannin 64 23.80
  Onterio McCalebb   20.25
Field Goals Wes Byrum T-25 1.50
Scoring Wes Byrum 20 10.25
  Darvin Adams T-64 7.50
  Kodi Burns   6.00
All-Purpose Runners Onterio McCalebb 47 131.00
  Ben Tate T-54 125.75
  Mario Fannin   102.75
  Terrell Zachery   87.50
  Darvin Adams   83.50
Sacks Antonio Coleman T-78 .62
  Mike Blanc T-78 .62
  Craig Stevens   .38
Tackles Josh Bynes T-64 8.50
  Craig Stevens T-85 8.00
  Neiko Thorpe   5.75
Tackles For Loss Antonio Coleman T-82 1.13
  Craig Stevens   1.00

Observations

Running backs. Ben Tate is Auburn's Montario Hardesty, although he's not ranked quite as high. Their second guy -- Onterio McCalebb -- ranks much better than our Bryce Brown, though, so watch out for these guys. Call this a push except that Benterio should have rougher going against Monte's D than Brytario should have against Auburn's D.

Quarterbacks. Chris Todd is ranked 6th in the nation in passing efficiency, and he hasn't thrown eight interceptions (he's thrown just one). Hidden in there is Kodi Burns, the Wild Wargleiger who's run only 25 times for 67 yards, but has four TDs among those numbers. He's also thrown a TD on four passing attempts, so you can't just think he's going to run every time.

Receivers. The go-to receivers appear to be Darvin Adams and Terrell Zachery.

Defense. Uh-oh. The Tigers have a whopping eight guys with interceptions already this year.

Special teams. There doesn't appear to be anything special about Auburn's special teams.

Conclusions

  • Don't expect Auburn to continue to completely blow up the scoreboard like they have against their five four opponents, but do expect game-long frustration in keeping them from moving the ball, even with Monte on the sidelines, especially with the recent rash of injuries we've suffered on that side of the ball. This concludes our run-on sentence.
  • Expect Tennessee to run, run, run, as it's the offense's best chance of keeping up with the Tigers in yardage and on the scoreboard. FINISH, because if we settle for field goals, we are doomed.
  • Expect special teams (mostly field position) and turnovers to decide this game.
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