Thursday, September 25, 2008

Tennessee, Auburn Look For Redemption

Tennessee 1-2 @ Auburn 3-1
Line: Aub -6.5

Two teams coming off disappointing home losses meet in a redemption game Saturday afternoon. Tennessee head coach Phil Fulmer is feeling the heat after a 30-6 home loss to Florida last week. Meanwhile, Auburn showed improvement on offense, but it was not enough to hold off LSU at home. The loser of this game can start thinking Independence Bowl for their holiday plans.

Tennessee Offense vs Auburn Defense
Tennessee’s problem has not been moving the ball, it is pointing points on the board. The Volunteers are averaging nearly 400 ypg with a good balance between the run and the pass. QB Jonathan Crompton has been solid, but he needs better receivers to really become a big threat in the passing game. Auburn’s run defense has been very good allowing just 84 ypg, but LSU did get significantly over that last week. The Tigers defense has done a fantastic job of stopping teams in the red zone allowing just 1 point for every 25 yards of offense – this is the definition of a bend but don’t break defense.

Key: The line of scrimmage will be key with these two units as UT is averaging 5 yards per carry while Auburn is giving up just 2.7.

Auburn Offense vs Tennessee Defense
Neither of these two units excites me. Auburn’s offense is moving the ball on the ground well (171 rypg), but has not been able to put very many points on the board. Tennessee statistically has done pretty well on defense allowing only 268.7 ypg, but they are still allowing 20 ppg due to the offense’s turnovers and special teams. The best player on the field with these two units will be S Eric Berry for the Volunteers. It seemed like the sophomore was the only Vol defender playing inspired football in the second half last week. I think Auburn showed improvement moving the ball last week against LSU, but I think they need to mix in Kodi Burns with starting QB Chris Todd.

Key: Can Tennessee make Chris Todd beat them by throwing under pressure?

Other News and Notes…
Tennessee’s punt game has been terrible this year. Britton Colquitt is still suspended for drinking too much in the off season and his backup is not cutting it. The return coverage allowed a touchdown return from Florida, but they will not be last team that happens to this season. Two weeks ago, Auburn officials sent emails to Auburn students asking them not to boo the offense. While that was not necessary vs LSU because Auburn scored 14 on offense against a good defense (also scored 1 def TD), it is safe to say OC Tony Franklin is feeling some heat in only his first season. Fulmer has had is back to the wall before and come out swinging the last couple of years. LSU in ’05 and Georgia in ’04 come to mind.

Many will just go on the notion that Auburn will not lose two home games in a row under Tuberville, but you cannot discount Fulmer with his back to the wall because he is the longest tenured coach in the SEC for a reason. I think the difference in this game will lie with Auburn’s defense being better than Tennessee’s offense when they match up. I like Auburn to turn to the running game a little more and pull this one out late.

Auburn 20 Tennessee 14
Tennessee Covers

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