By now, you've probably hear of Marcus Lattimore.
Ever since he chose South Carolina over Auburn inside the confines of his local church, he has been a fan favorite of Gamecock Nation. That hasn't changed a bit. He scored two touchdowns against Southern Miss on a Thursday night game on ESPN before he really burst onto the scene by rushing for 182 yards and two TDs in the 17-6 win over Georgia.
So far this season, he has 70 carries for 333 yards and five TDs (an average of about 23 carries and 111 yards a game). His style is running up the middle and getting tough yardage. He hasn't been utilized as an outside runner yet.
This Saturday, Lattimore and the Gamecocks travel to Auburn to play the Tigers, who are coming off an emotional comeback victory over Clemson, 27-24. Auburn is ranked No. 14 in the poll that matters, USC No. 15.
So far this season, nobody has been able to run up the middle with success on Auburn with the exception of about four or so plays. This is the gameplan for USC, to run up the middle with Lattimore.
Here are some things Auburn must do to stop Marcus Lattimore:
Do what you do up the middle
Like I already said, Auburn's front seven has been spectacular against the inside run this year. Clemson's most successful running plays were around the corner, and that is not a strength of Marcus Lattimore.
Auburn must remain stingy inside to stop the All-SEC Freshman.
Get enough pressure on Garcia to make them more one-dimensional
If Stephen Garcia takes close to the same number of hits that Kyle Parker did last week on the very same field, USC might not be able to beat Auburn through the air.
Keeping Garcia in check will either give Lattimore even more carries, bring in a true freshman QB in Connor Shaw in a hostile environment like he has never seen, or both. Auburn's secondary has to play their part with tight coverage.
If Garcia is pressured and has small holes to throw it into, Lattimore will get more carries, and statement No. 1 can come true, turning this game into a disaster offensively for the Gamecocks.
Safeties stay in position to make a stand
If Lattimore does get past the front seven, he can turn on the jets if there is an open field ahead. Zac, Aaron, McNeil, and others had better be in position to keep a good play for USC from being a great play.
Blitz, but don't overshoot
This was a problem against Clemson.
On those screen passes, Auburn would get tremendous pressure on Parker, but he still got passes off to his running backs, and they had some room to run, with Auburn's defensive line and linebackers in pursuit from behind. They need to bring the blitz, but they need some linebackers or corners to stay in position in case Lattimore runs past the blitzing Tigers.
You can't deny the tackling for Auburn this season is worlds better than it was last season. But sometimes, you run into a running back like Lattimore who is just plain tough to tackle.
Ask Todd Grantham and Georgia.
Auburn has got to wrap up. They need to gang-tackle, tackle at the legs, and make hard contact. If you just bump into him and expect him to fall down, he'll balance himself and run for another easy 15 yards. But Auburn's defense is definitely up to the task on this one.
Keep him on the sideline!
Don't be fooled: Auburn has one of the best offenses and QBs in the SEC. When this offense gets hot, it catches on fire.
Just ask Clemson in the third quarter.
If Auburn can mix big plays with sustained drives, which Malzahn has shown he actually can tolerate, the Tigers offense could make life easier for the Auburn defense.
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