Auburn Football 2010: Some Interesting Facts To Contemplate For South Carolina

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Auburn Football 2010: Some Interesting Facts To Contemplate For South Carolina
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Week 4 of the 2010 college football season brings a fascinating match-up. South Carolina will travel to Auburn in an attempt to solidify their position as a contender in the SEC East. There are some interesting stories and critical match-ups that will define this game. Let's take a look at some of those.

Auburn has played, and won, two close games that have left many fans wondering about their prospects for the season. This is a natural progression of thought after such games. To answer some of these questions a closer look is imperative.

What is wrong with the Auburn offense?

In short there is nothing wrong with the Auburn offense, the tempo has simply not yet been raised this year.

Statistic

Auburn 2009 Season

Auburn 2010 Season

Auburn last two games

Total Offense in yards

431.77

460

377.5

Passing Offense in yards

219.77

200.67

180.5

Rushing Offense in yards

212

259.33

205.5

Rushing Yards per carry

5.01

5.48

4.42

Passing Yards per attempt

7.85

11.8

10.31

Offensive Yards per play

6.14

7.15

6.03

Sacks Allowed

1.62

1.67

2

Turnover Margin

0.08

-1.33

-0.5

Scoring Offense

33.31

32

22

Average Offensive Plays

70.3

64.33

64

Quarterback Cameron Newton has not earned a license to drive the Gus Bus quite yet. He simply has a permit and must have Coach Malzahn along to ensure he does not exceed the speed at which he can drive safely.

If fans have been watching closely, they will see that the only risks Newton has been allowed to take so far have been well down field. Play calling close to the Auburn red zone has been very meticulous and careful. Newton has been intercepted three times, once in the end zone, once at the opponents one yard line and once at the opponents 39 yard line.

While Auburn fans may disagree, the strategy is obvious. Coach Malzahn is attempting to keep Newton from making mistakes where they are the most devastating. He has also reduced the tempo to allow Newton to catch up to the speed of the game.

If Coach Malzahn were to allow the offense to play at full-tempo, it is possible that Auburn could simply outscore the opponent so badly that mistakes would not matter. However, forcing the tempo up before Newton is ready could also lead to a day like Mississippi State had against LSU where they threw six interceptions that cost them any chance of winning the game.

Clemson had 21 interceptions in 2009. They already have five in 2010 and had three coming into the Auburn game. Mississippi State had 17 interceptions in 2009. They already have three in 2010 and had two prior to the Auburn game.

It would seem that The Tigers have changed strategy some this year. They are taking the approach of not risking turnovers deep in their own territory. While turnovers will kill a team's chances, inexperienced quarterbacks do make mistakes. A mistake at the opponents twenty is much preferred to a mistake in the Auburn red zone.

The result of an intercepted bubble screen is often a touchdown for the opponent. The result of an intercepted long pass down field is often better than a punt. There is a strategy behind the play calling so far. It is likely that the strategy has helped win Auburn at least two games.

Is the defense any better than last year?

This is an easy question to answer with a simple yes, but let's take a look at why.

Statistic

Auburn 2009

Auburn 2010

South Carolina

Alabama

Total Defense in yards allowed

 

1026

982

760

Average Allowed per defended play

5.15

4.38

5.17

4.04

Rushing Defense in yards allowed

 

347

179

362

Average Allowed per defensive play

4.12

3.02

2.24

3.77

Pass Defense in yards allowed

 

679

803

393

Average Allowed per pass defended

6.27

5.71

7.3

4.33

Kickoff Return yardage allowed

 

284

297

471

Yardage Per Return

23.54

18.93

18.56

21.41

Punt Return yardage allowed

 

26

60

11

Yardage Per Return

12.92

6.5

10

11

Not only has the defense improved statistically in every one of these categories, it compares favorably within the conference. It should be noted that Auburn has played a much more difficult schedule so far than some other teams in the conference.

How does Marcus Lattimore compare to Mike Dyer so far?

Both of these freshmen running backs have flourished so far this year. To compare let's stack them up side by side.

Statistic

Mike Dyer

Marcus Lattimore

Rushing Attempts

39

78

Average Yards Per Attempt

5.43

4.35

Total Yards

212

340

Receptions

1

3

Yards Per Reception

9

12.33

Both seem to be on pace to eclipse the thousand yard mark this year. Both will face formidable rushing defenses this week against The Gamecocks. It will be interesting to see which of the two freshmen has the biggest impact in the upcoming game.

Have penalties gotten worse this year?

Auburn is averaging 61.67 lost yards per game in penalties so far in 2010.

Auburn averaged 65.15 lost yards per game in 2009 due to penalties.

It would seem this is one area where the team has failed to improve substantially so far.

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