This week we caught up with 3 of the main guys at SixPackSpeak- Dawgstudent, AzzuriDawg and 8dog, to get their thoughts on this weekends game at Auburn. See what the guys had to say about the upcoming game in our sixpack of questions... for the pack.
Q1: Obviously last year was a tough loss to Auburn at home and to a QB we all thought we had "in the bag" to come to State. Going down to Auburn this Saturday, what do you think our chances are of coming away with a victory?
8dog: I think its 50/50. Watching Memphis give us some trouble on the ground gives me real concerns about stopping Malzahn's running game. Giving up 177 yards on the ground to Memphis is awful. I'd feel even worse if Auburn wasn't breaking in an almost entirely new O-Line. We should be able to move the ball and put up some points against a very young defense as long as Carmon is still serviceable. He really hasn't proved anything yet, and AU's ends looked fast.
2 years ago we took a team to AU that was probably about as good as they were. We broke in a lot of new players on defense against a QB that had very little talent and Malzahn confused the hell out of us, particularly in the game-changing last 4 minutes of the first half. The end of the Utah State game reminded me of those drives. Fortunately, we have changed Defensive Coordinators since that time, but the memory of those 2 end of the half drives are just haunting.
AzzurriDawg: Strong to quite strong. It is almost too easy to take our game against Memphis and their game against Utah State, mix them together and come up with a drubbing of Auburn on the plains. Of course, it is never that easy, and I am sure that Auburn will be geeked up to face Mullen and the Dawgs. That said, I am putting our chances at about 85%, with the 15% representative of really the only things that can stop us this weekend, the road environment and turnovers.
Dawgstudent: After watching Auburn this weekend, I am more confident than I was before. I thought we had to win one of the two against UGA and Auburn to repeat last year and I have a great feeling we will get both.
Q2: After watching the Memphis game last week, where do you think we need to improve the most going into this week's game to have a chance at a W?
8dog: I was disappointed in the D-Line's ability to free up the LBs. Hopefully, Fletcher Coxreturns and makes us that much better. Also, we have to tackle better in the back 7. Missing 29 tackles is not going to win you road games in this conference.
AzzurriDawg: Too easy to talk about the young linebackers or our pass rush in general, so I am going to pick on our interior offensive line a little bit. I may be the only person that wasnt exactly enamored with our O-line against Memphis. I did think that Carmon and Lawrence played a pretty solid game, with Carmon playing great after a few early gaffes/wiffs, and Lawrence his usually solid self. I just didn't think we got as much push as we should have against Memphis. Relf was often hit early on his keepers, ultimately averaging only 3.9 a carry. Ballard's two long runs were achieved by misdirection and some good seal blocks by Shumpert. Tubby Lewis' TD run was sprung by his own athleticism and a great block from Robert Elliott. Oddly enough, I think this offense can manage without stellar line play against most teams. There is so much misdirection and so many options that the opposing team is often so out of place that it doesn't matter who is blocked. However, against our next two opponents, we will need to take another step forward on the O-Line, and I believe we will.
Dawgstudent: I wasn't impressed at all with our D-line and linebackers. Memphis got some big yardage in their running game and as we all saw, they just weren't an impressive team. I am hoping Fletcher Cox can help solidify the middle some and help our D-line. I think his play will be a huge key where more attention will be paid to him.
Q3: Can't talk about Auburn without at least mentioning the NCAA investigation. What are your thoughts on the realness of this never-ending investigation? Think it's a ghost investigation or that there really may be something there?
8dog: The NCAA has publicly stated the investigation is real. It feels like they think something was dirty with regard to Newton but they can't prove it. Therefore, they broadened the search to find something, anything on Auburn-See the Louisiana aspect of the investigation. But really, the only thing we've learned in the last 9 months is that the NCAA is overwhelmed and useless. They have a small staff, no subpoena power, and their lead investigator is a Yahoo writer.
AzzurriDawg: Sigh, wake me when they are sanctioned. Until then, it suits me just fine that everyone else in the Country believes they are cheaters.
Dawgstudent: Wake me up when it happens. I would have taken Cam Newton for a national championship for 180K. No one is going to forget that they won it even if it's stripped.
Q4: In one word, describe:
* Gene Chizik
* Trooper Taylor
* Your feelings towards Auburn
8dog: Gene Chizik- Malzahn
Trooper Taylor- Thug
Your feelings towards Auburn- Ambivalent
AzzurriDawg: Gene Chizik - cheater.
Trooper Taylor - obnoxious, showboating, cheater...wait, how many words?
Your feelings towards Auburn - cheater(s).
Dawgstudent: Gene Chizik - Cheater
Trooper Taylor - Cheater
Your feelings towards Auburn - Cheater(s)
Q5: Who are you calling as your player of the game against Auburn?
8dog: Its going to have to be someone on defense to be a difference maker. I think it will be Cox. Big time player who surely has some pent up energy and frustration after sitting at home washing his Charger last weekend. And he already assured me he would play at the highest level of college football next weekend. I just hope he makes the trip.
AzzurriDawg: I am again going to stray from the obvious a little (Vick Ballard) and go with Mr. Relf. Seeing USU pile up all those rushing yards on Auburn...it is easy to envision Ballard running roughshod over Auburn's inexperienced defense, however, I think they are going to sell out to stop the run and won't have the athleticism to stop a much improved aerial attack. If they are in one-on-one with Bump, Green, Clark, and Tubby, it is going to be a long day for Auburn, because they have about one player (Neiko Thorpe) that can hang with those guys in coverage. In the end, I am thinking both Ballard and Relf are going to get theirs.
Dawgstudent: LaDarius Perkins - he will get touches this week and shine
Q6: Game score predicition?
8dog: State 31 Auburn 28. That's a huge leap for me.
AzzurriDawg: 38-21. That's right. The only thing that can slow down our offense on the Plains is our own mistakes. If we stay turnover free on Saturday, it might get ugly for Auburn. Make some big mistakes and the Bulldog faithful may be biting their fingernails until the end. I figure Malzahn will find a way to put some points on the board, but they won't be able to stop the Relf and Ballard show.
Dawgstudent: State 31 Auburn 23 - we hold them off late. It's 24-20 going into the 4th. We get an early TD in the 4thand they kick a FG and the rest of the 4th is them trying to score a TD.
Thanks to the Azzuri, the Godfather and 8dog for taking time out to answer our questions. If you don't already, check them out over at Sixpackspeak.com for discussion of MSU sports, rumors (they're encouraged), and the best free chat in town.