Auburn vs. Texas A&M: Unheralded Stars Who Must Step Up in SEC Battle

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistOctober 19, 2013

COLLEGE STATION, TX - AUGUST 31:  Ben Malena #1 of the Texas A&M Aggies runs upfield during the game against the Rice Owls at Kyle Field on August 31, 2013 in College Station, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

When two ranked teams face each other in college football, everyone on the field needs to do their job, not just the stars.

In this matchup, Johnny Manziel will likely post big numbers for Texas A&M, while Tre Mason is expected to star for Auburn offensively. That is not necessarily going to be enough to win.

Both of these stars had huge games in their team's only loss this year.

As a result, there are a few other players who must come up big in order to help their teams win this conference battle. These guys might not get the headlines, but they will be key to victory.


Sammie Coates, WR, Auburn

AUBURN, AL - SEPTEMBER 7:  Wide receiver Sammie Coates #18 of the Auburn Tigers runs the ball in for a touchdown during their game against the Arkansas State Red Wolves on September 7, 2013 at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Alabama. At halftime Auburn lea
Michael Chang/Getty Images

Although Nick Marshall has not been great as a passer this season, he has not had much help. Emory Blake was the only person on the roster who topped 200 receiving yards last year, and he graduated.

This left a highly inexperienced bunch, and no one has truly stood out over the first half of the season.

One person who has shown some potential is Sammie Coates. The sophomore had his best game of the year against LSU, totaling 139 yards on four catches. He has proven to be a big-play threat who can beat defenses at any time.

He will have to come through with more big gains in this contest in order to give the offense balance.


Chris Davis, CB, Auburn

Chris Davis has been a fixture in Auburn's defense throughout his career, and the senior has been one of the steadiest forces on that side of the ball for three years.

However, he will have a tough task ahead of him. He will be asked to slow down Mike Evans in this game. The Aggies receiver has been incredible this season and is currently ranked third in college football with 737 receiving yards.

The toughest part of defending him is matching up with his size. Davis has decent size for a cornerback at 5'11", but Evans towers over him at 6'5", and he knows how to use every inch.

Davis will have to find a way to be physical with the big man to keep him from getting huge gains throughout the day.


Ben Malena, RB, Texas A&M

COLLEGE STATION, TX - OCTOBER 20:  Ben Malena #1 of the Texas A&M Aggies runs the ball past Craig Loston #6 of the LSU Tigers at Kyle Field on October 20, 2012 in College Station, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Although Ben Malena got off to a hot start this year, he has slowed down tremendously in the past few games. He has failed to top four yards per carry in three of the last four games, while most of his touchdowns are coming on short runs.

Meanwhile, fellow running backs Trey Williams and Tra Carson have proven to be much more dynamic with their ability to pick up big chunks of yards on the ground.

In Texas A&M's fast-paced attack, these quicker running backs might become more valuable.

However, Malena still holds the starting role for now and will get the bulk of carries in this game. He needs to do a better job of taking advantage of this and put together a strong rushing effort against this SEC opponent.


Julien Obioha, DE, Texas A&M

Sept 15, 2012; Dallas, TX, USA; Southern Methodist Mustangs offensive linesman Bryan Collins (67) blocks Texas A&M Aggies defensive lineman Julien Obioha (95) during the second quarter at Gerald J. Ford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY
Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

After earning a starting job as a freshman, Julien Obioha was expected to take a huge leap in his sophomore season as a possible replacement to Damontre Moore. Unfortunately, it appears that no one can replace the former star.

Texas A&M has struggled to get to the quarterback this season, totaling only five sacks in six games. This has given opponents plenty of time to move the ball down the field, which most quarterback have taken advantage of this season.

This lack of a pass rush is one of the biggest reasons the Aggies rank 96th in the nation in points allowed per game.

Obioha has zero sacks on the year, but he has the talent to break through and get to the quarterback consistently. He needs to do that in this game to force quarterback Nick Marshall into making bad decisions.


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