Auburn Football 2010: Where Do Tigers Stand With Louisiana Monroe Coming Up?

Kevin McGradySenior Writer ISeptember 29, 2010

AUBURN, AL - SEPTEMBER 19:  Bradley Starks #14 of the West Virginia Mountaineers comes up short as he dives for the end zone against Zac Etheridge #4 of the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on September 19, 2009 in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Auburn plays Louisiana Monroe this week in a game that should allow starters to rest and get healthy. This is a week where Auburn must take care of business. They are expected to win big, and win big they must.

The game begins at 11: AM and will be televised on ESPNU. This is the first time in three games that the Tigers have not been viewed nationally in prime time.  Auburn is a 35 point favorite in this game.

With the BCS poll coming out soon and other top ten programs playing stronger competition, there is a lot to be lost by a lackluster or sub par performance.

Auburn needs to come out and play well early and let the younger players get some experience. There is the toughest part of the schedule coming up.

There are some factors that have changed since the season started. Auburn will have played the majority of their ranked opponents by Halloween. There will likely be only one ranked opponent in November.

This leaves Auburn with five games in the first thirty days of October to make their case in the polls. All of that begins with the game this week.

There are some things Auburn fans should consider this week. Auburn had a terrible showing in pass defense in the Arkansas State game. Arkansas State is now the ninth ranked passing offense in the nation.

Clemson plays Miami this week, Miami is a three point favorite in the game, a Clemson win will help Auburn in the BCS poll when it comes out and likely propel them into the top 25.

South Carolina will be vast underdogs against Alabama next week in Columbia. A good showing by them in that game will help Auburn in the BCS poll, but a win will hurt later on.

It is time to take a look at opponents for the next three games.



Louisiana Monroe








Quality Opponents Played





Offensive Plays Executed





Average Yards Gained










Plays Defended





Average Yards Allowed





Auburn’s next opponent Louisiana Monroe was beaten by Arkansas State, the first opponent Auburn faced this year. They have beaten FBS teams in the past and should not be taken lightly.

It appears defensive end Joel Bonomolo will need this season off to heal a nagging injury. Fans will not likely see him on the field this year. Linebacker Jawara White appears to be in the same position.

It is getting to the time in the season where the value of utilizing a player has to be weighed against a red shirt year. There will likely be more in this category as time goes on.

Observations on Cam Newton

It is quite interesting how the local media has almost declared that Cameron Newton will get injured if he continues to run as much. It is likely this is simply more wishful thinking by local media that overtly pulls for Auburn’s cross state rival.

Cameron Newton was recruited to replace Tim Tebow. He is bigger and faster, and it is no more likely for him to be injured than it was for Tebow. Tebow sustained only one major injury in his four year career at Florida and that injury occurred in the pocket when he wasn’t running.

Most of Newton’s early training was in the very system Tebow ran. He was conditioned and trained to run the football first and pass second. As he gets more comfortable with the Malzahn offense, fans will see him pass more and more.

Even though Newton will pass more, it will not likely reduce his rushing yardage that much. Over half of his rushing attempts are on busted plays where most quarterbacks would simply throw the ball away.

This part of Newton’s rushing production is all added yards that would not be achieved with any other quarterback running the offense. It appears that he has gained over 200 yards on such plays so far this season.

His progression in the offense allowed him to utilize one running back, one h-back, one tight end and three receivers in the South Carolina game. While this is less than half the weapons available to him, it does show quick progression on his part.

South Carolina was the one defense that prognosticators thought would have the experience and personnel to cover Newton and the wide array of Auburn offensive weapons. It would appear this could be more difficult than they first thought.

The progression at the quarterback position should be very visible to fans this Saturday. A simple comparison to game one should be a good indicator to go by.

Observations on the Defensive Line

Nick Fairley has performed at a level of his own so far this season. South Carolina took another approach on handling him. He still had a great game, but this move allowed other Auburn defensive tackles to disrupt the South Carolina offense.

There is no out for offensive lines; Auburn has four defensive tackles that are playing at very high levels. Nick Fairley and Mike Blanc have both been recognized as the SEC defensive lineman of the week. That covers two of the four weeks of the season. Zach Clayton has performed at those levels as well; fans can expect his week to come.

Auburn had quarterback hurries on 12 of 29 pass attempts in the South Carolina game. There were three sacks to add to that count. This means there was disruptive pressure on the quarterback on over half of all pass plays.

No team has had any luck running between the tackles on Auburn this season. One running back with elite speed has been able to get outside for some success against Auburn. Clemson’s Ellington has a lot of similarities with Kentucky’s Randall Cobb. Auburn faces Kentucky next week in Lexington.

List of D-Line KOs So Far

Derek Lawson, Arkansas State 16 carries for 45 yards

Chris Relf, Mississippi State 14 carries for 26 yards

Jamie Harper, Clemson 19 carries for 44 yards

Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina 14 carries for 33 yards

Thoughts about Opponent Offensive Strategy

So far Auburn opponents have attempted to gain traction by using high tempo (Arkansas State, Clemson), low tempo (South Carolina, Mississippi State) and neither has worked.

Teams have tried unbalanced schemes toward the pass (South Carolina, Arkansas State), and balanced attacks (Mississippi State, Clemson) and these have not worked.

Auburn will face two opponents that run a balanced offensive scheme in Louisiana Monroe and Kentucky for the next two games. Then they face a pass happy Arkansas followed by a rushing happy LSU. There is plenty of variety on the menu for the Auburn defense coming in October.

Improvement Imperative

The Auburn defensive backfield is still making too many mistakes. They will face two pretty good quarterbacks in the next three weeks, it is time that they showed up in pass coverage.

Where Does Auburn Stand?

We all know that Auburn had several near misses in 2009. They needed just a little more than they had to get over the hump in some games. How does this year’s team compare at this point.


Auburn 2010 Week Four

Auburn 2009

Total Offense

468 yards

431 yards

Average Per Play

6.91 yards

6.14 yards




Rushing Offense

278 yards

212 yards

Average Per Play

5.59 yards

5.01 yards




Passing Offense

190 yards

219.77 yards

Average Per Play

10.56 yards

7.85 yards

Passing Efficiency

185.48 index ranking

143.55 index ranking




Sacks Allowed Per Game






Scoring Offense Average

32.75 points

33.31 points




Scoring Defense Average

22.75 points

27.54 points




Total Defense

350.75 yards

374.08 yards

Yards Allowed Per Play

4.84 yards

5.15 yards




Rushing Defense

106.5 yards

156.08 yards

Yards Allowed Per Play

2.98 yards

4.12 yards




Passing Defense

244.25 yards

218 yards

Yards Allowed Per Attempt

6.65 yards

6.27 yards

Pass Efficiency Defense

125.12 index rating

115.02 index ranking




Sacks Per Game






Tackles For a Loss Per Game






Net Punting Average

34.81 yards

35.71 yards




Punt Returns Average

7.4 yards

4.46 yards




Kick Returns Average

24 yards

23.7 yards




Of the 22 statistical categories compared, Auburn has improved in 16.

Worse So Far

Of the six categories where Auburn has not improved three involved passing defense. Auburn is not better at pass defense in any statistical category so far in 2010.

The Other Three

Scoring Offense is so close as to be negligible at this point.

Net punting is very close to 2009 levels.

Passing Offense is well within range of changing with one game.

Other than pass defense, the first quarter report card on this team has to be a pass in every category. Pass defense has to be considered disappointing thus far, the players have better depth and more experience than the 2009 squad, but have not performed as well.