Auburn Football: 5 Keys to the Game vs. No. 2 LSU
Auburn will take on its second SEC opponent of the season this weekend when No. 2 LSU comes to town. LSU is the runaway favorite to win the game, but there are five keys that could provide Auburn with an unexpected victory.
The Tigers have had some issues defensively through the first three games, but some of those may be attributed to the types of offenses they have faced. This week will be a hard-hitting affair with Auburn looking to increase the intensity on defense.
LSU will bring the pain train if Auburn isn’t ready to hit somebody really hard on Saturday. If Auburn wants to avoid a 1-3 start, they will ride these five keys to an upset victory.
Get More Physical
Auburn has played a host of offenses that have been anything but conventional in the first few weeks of the season. The Auburn defense has struggled at times, giving up big plays because the Tigers players have been out of position.
This week, LSU brings a smash-mouth type of offense that doesn’t have a lot of moving parts. That brings good and bad to the table for Auburn. It is good for Auburn to be able to run more base defense, but they are playing against one of the toughest teams in college football.
Defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder sees the Tigers building a strong defense with each passing week, but he told Auburn Undercover this week that “we have to play more physical. We have to keep emphasizing that and take it to another level Saturday night."
Playing physically will be the key to this game for Auburn. LSU plays with a different level of physicality. After last year’s comments by LSU fullback J.C. Copeland claiming the Tigers “didn’t want to hit," Auburn should have something to prove this week.
Multiple Hats on the Ball Carrier
In Week 1 the Tigers looked lost trying to find the ball carrier. Heading into Week 4, the Tigers have been more consistent with pursuit, bringing multiple hats to the ball carrier with consistency.
Auburn has not been the most successful tackling team this season—a problem that has plagued the Chizik years—but the Tigers are showing signs of better form and growth.
LSU will be bringing three of the best power backs in the country to the Plains this weekend. Auburn has to pursue better than it have all season, and get a lot of bodies quickly to the ball carrier.
LSU doesn’t confuse anyone with its offense, they simply out-execute the competition. To stop those efforts, Auburn has to gang tackle. If they don’t, it will be a long day for the Tigers.
Auburn has been very inconsistent offensively through the first few weeks of the season. A big problem the Tigers have faced is clock control.
The Tigers can’t seem to find consistency on offense, hurting their time of possession and drowning the defense with tons of extra snaps that have led to breakdowns in the late quarters.
Auburn is being outscored by opponents 31-3 in the fourth quarter. That is directly correlated to the Tigers' lack of rhythm on offense, and a tired defense facing 90 plus plays a game.
If Auburn can manage the clock and convert crucial downs offensively, the defense should be able to play better in the later quarters and force a tight game with LSU.
Prevent 3rd Down Conversions
Auburn has struggled getting its defense off of the field so far this season. The Tigers have had a lot of favorable situations where opposing offenses are continually in third-and-long type situations, but they can’t get the stops.
Against LSU there are likely to be a lot of third-and-short plays. Auburn will have to fill gaps and play extremely aggressive to stop the Bayou Bengals from converting crucial third downs.
The defense may be hurting from the lack of rhythm on offense, but they kill themselves by not getting off the field in favorable situations. The Tigers can’t handle 90 snaps against LSU. Auburn can’t handle 80 snaps against LSU.
Getting off of the field more consistently is a must if Auburn wants to have a shot at a win this Saturday.
Don’t Rely on Kiehl Frazier
Kiehl Frazier was handed the keys to the Auburn offense to start the 2012 season and has had a lot of trouble finding his groove so far this year.
Against Mississippi State, the game was placed in Frazier’s hands and his abilities to make plays on a number of occasions. That led to a 28-10 loss and five turnovers.
Auburn can’t rely on Kiehl Frazier to win games just yet. He doesn’t have the confidence to come back from his mistakes. Against Louisiana-Monroe, Frazier tossed a pick and shut down for the remaining quarter.
The Tigers will need to push the run and short gains in the passing attack to move the ball and settle Frazier. If this game falls on Frazier’s arm or decision making, Auburn fans will have a long, woeful night.