The Auburn Tigers have to put forth a string of fine performances during the month of September if they hope to make a statement during the 2013 campaign.
With a number of key contests, including bouts against SEC powerhouses Mississippi State and LSU, Auburn will have to be dialed in and focused on delivering promising football early on.
September 7 vs. Arkansas State
No doubt, one would expect Auburn to take care of business against Arkansas State in relatively easy fashion. However, this game could turn out to be quite different.
Arkansas State possesses a number of weapons in their arsenal on offense. Sophomore wide receiver J.D. McKissic had 103 catches last season to go along with 1,022 yards receiving.
On the ground, the Red Wolves have a dynamic one-two combo of running backs David Oku and Rocky Hayes, who combined for 1,599 yards rushing last season.
While the Red Wolves may seem like a harmless opponent, they are capable of putting points on the board. During their first game of the 2012 season against Oregon, the Red Wolves scored 34 points.
Certainly, the Tigers will have to find a way to apply pressure to Arkansas State’s offense and keep them from gaining momentum during the game.
September 14 vs. Mississippi State
Auburn will have their work cut out for them against Mississippi State.
The Bulldogs limited opponents to only 221.8 yards passing last season, and with a number of guys from last year’s secondary like Nickoe Whitley, Dee Arrington and Justin Cox returning, they should be better.
In order to come up big in this one, the Tigers will have to utilize the running game throughout the evening.
Also, quarterback Nick Marshall’s dual-threat abilities should keep the Bulldogs guessing.
Likewise, running backs Tre Mason and Cameron Artis-Payne will have to find holes in the defense and take advantage of every opportunity the defense gives them.
September 21 vs. LSU
Certainly, many might be quick to conclude that Auburn does not have a chance to beat LSU, and when taking it at face value, such sentiment is just.
Which contest during September is the most important?
However, if Auburn can build up momentum in their games heading into their matchup against LSU, they could give them a run for their money.
The key to keeping it close will be to limit the mistakes on offense.
LSU thrives on baiting quarterbacks into making bad decisions, having intercepted 18 balls last year.
Hence, Marshall will have to remain cognizant of the looks the defense gives him and play a patient brand of football.
If Auburn can put forth a performance worthy of being proud of, the good vibes should remain going forward.