Peeps, the biggest game in the history of our program occurs tomorrow. The #2 Auburn Tigers roll into Starkville to square off against our #3 Mississippi State Bulldogs. I'm expecting a four quarter war. So, what do our beloved Dawgs need to do to defeat the War Eagles? Here's what I think, in no particular order:
1. Say it with me: Run the "Darn" Football - As usual, the Dawgs need to be physical and run the football. Much like aTm, Auburn's offense is fast paced and explosive. We are going to want to limit their possessions. To do this, we need to sustain drives and chew up clock. Dak Prescott and Josh Robinson need to run the ball at least 15 times apiece. Personally, I'd like to see each of them carry it 20+ times.
2. Stop the Run: Football 101 - You win games by running the football and stopping the run. Auburn will be arguably the most physical offense we play this season. They love to run the football downhill and pound on opposing defenses. They're committed to the run, and their scheme lets them be very effective running it. But we've got the personnel in the front 7 to slow down their ground attack. We will want to force Nick Marshall to pass and beat us with his arm. They're dangerous off of the play-action, so eliminating the run as much as possible will be a big step in limiting their offensive explosiveness.
3. Start Fast: This is a game where the Dawgs need to get off to a good start and score some points early. Put the pressure on Auburn and force them to play some catch-up. If they're playing from behind, it will also limit how much they're willing to run the ball.
4. Tackling: Tackling will be huge in this game. Auburn has a stable of good backs and rotates them through frequently. They break tackles for extra yards. They turn a 4 yard run into a 6 yard run with one missed tackle routinely. Likewise, they're receivers are big and physical guys. Auburn loves to get them the ball deep off the play-action matched up against smaller DBs. If they can break one tackle, it's off to the races. We're going to need to be fundamentally sound moreso than ever this week. Wrap up and get these guys on the ground. Don't go for the strip or the pick. Eliminate YAC for their RBs and RAC yards for their WRs will be crucial.
5. No Turnovers: Captain Obvious say we can't give Auburn extra possessions to wear on our defense.
6. Special Teams and Field Position: The STs are going to be a big key this week. We need to continue kicking the ball deep on KOs and eliminating the possibility of a return. The punters, whether it be Bell or Cooke, need to keep up their good work with hang time and keeping teams pinned deep. We need to force Auburn to drive the field against our Psycho Defense. We'll also probably need to make a FG this week. Hope the good Sobiesk shows up and we decide to block someone up front.
7. 3rd Down Conversions: Like last week, we need to convert 3rd downs and stay on the field. Keep the chains moving and keep Auburn's D on the field to wear them down.
8. Control the Trenches: Again, it's Captain Obvious, but we've got to control the LOS on both sides of the ball. Be physical and make Auburn earn every yard on offense and every tackle on D. Punch them in the mouth early and often.
That's what I think the Dawgs need to do to beat Auburn. No real surprises. This is going to be a straight up street fight. It's going to be physical and nasty. Personally, I can't wait. We're going to learn a whole lot about both teams on Saturday.
In Mullen We Trust,