Well, it's Auburn week. The week we've been waiting for all summer. The game circled on everybody's calendar. This is it, don't get scared now.
Auburn is 0-1 this year as they lost to Clemson 26-19 in the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Classic. This is the first time since 2005 they've been 0-1, when they lost to another ACC team - Georgia Tech. I remember going to the MSU/Auburn game on the Plains that following week when several of their fans told me on Friday night, "y'all will probably beat us, we aren't any good". They beat us 28-0. I heard the same thing last year after they almost lost to Utah State, and now this year after they have lost to Clemson.
In their game on Saturday, Clemson was missing Sammy Watkins - one of the best WR/KR in the country, but still put up 528 total yards on Auburn's defense including 320 rushing yards. Auburn is supposed to have an improved defense this year with 9 returning starters and a new defensive coordinator in Brian VanGorder. He comes from the Atlanta Falcons (left, not fired) and he also led those great UGA defenses in the early '00s.
The Auburn D definitely didn't play great, but there was also some excellent play making by Tajh Boyd, Andre Ellington and DeAndre Hopkins. Those athletes made several big plays out of nothing, escaping Auburn pressure. The stats were big, but Mississippi State may have to match Clemson's athleticism to match their numbers. That said, Clemson ran at will just as MSU did last September on Auburn.
On offense, Kiehl Frazier has taken the reigns at quarterback. He was 11 of 27 for 194 yards and a touchdown vs. Clemson. That TD was a 54 yards bomb to Emory Blake. Despite the loss of Michael Dyer the Tigers still have some good talent at RB with Sr. Onterio McCalebb and So. Tre Mason. Those two combined for 188 yards in Week 1.
Their offensive line appears pretty solid. They returned three starters off of last year's team, one of which is Center Reese Dismukes who was suspended for the opener. But with a new offense implemented this year it will be interesting to see how they respond to the physicality of State's D-line.
Players to Watch For
WR Emory Blake - One of the best receivers in the SEC, had 613 yards in 2011, 526 in 2010.
TE Philip Lutzenkirchen - All-SEC player, 12 TD catches the last two years - he is Auburn's go-to guy inside the red zone.
RB Onterio McCalebb - Not an every down back, but has great speed and is a home-run hitter. They'll release the tackle and let him try to beat the DE off the edge for a big play.
C Reese Dismukes - Suspended for the Clemson game, he was 2nd team All-SEC in the preseason.
DE Corey Lemonier - Great player, had 13.5 tackles for loss and 9 sacks last year.
DE Nosa Eguae - Another solid end, he had 6 tackles for loss last season.
DB T'Sharvin Bell - Preseason 3rd team All-SEC, had 9 passes defended in 2011.