BCS Bowl Games 2011: A Quick Look at Auburn and Oregon Linebackers and Rushing

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BCS Bowl Games 2011: A Quick Look at Auburn and Oregon Linebackers and Rushing
Steve Dykes/Getty Images

This article takes a look at Auburn and Oregon along the lines.

Assuming that the offensive lines for these two teams get the job done, the rushing attacks will be a battle between the linebackers and running backs.

Added into the mix for these teams is the confrontation of two quarterbacks that are a definite challenge to the safeties. This will be a quick paced, ferocious battle indeed.

All three teams that finished the year undefeated in 2010 had a powerful rushing attack. This is a testament to the importance of a solid rushing capability.

Auburn averaged 6.2 yards per carry as a team and Oregon 6.1 yards per carry. Only Nevada with one loss averaged more with 6.3 yards per carry this year. Oregon averaged 5.5 yards per carry in 2009 and Auburn 5.0 yards per carry. Fans can assume the improvement in the rushing attack is a big reason these two teams are in their current position.

Oregon runs the ball 50 times per game, and Auburn 46 on average this year. Such a huge workload can not be handled by a traditional one running back system. Both of these teams are very deep in weapons to use in their rushing offense.

 

Offensive Weapons

Position

Auburn 

Oregon 

Quarterback

Cameron Newton 6’6”

250lbs 4.5 second forty

Darron Thomas 6’3”

212lbs 4.5 second forty

Backup

Barrett Trotter 6’2”

211lbs 4.7 second forty

Nate Costa 6’1”

210lbs 4.7second forty

Running Back

Mike Dyer 5’8’

215lbs 4.4 second forty

LaMichael James 5’9”

185lbs 4.4second forty

Backup Rotation

Onterio McCalebb 5’10”

171lbs 4.3 forty

Kenjon Barner 5’11”

180lbs 4.5 second forty

Backup Rotation

Mario Fannin 5’11”

228lbs 4.4 second forty

Remene Alston Jr. 5’8”

200lbs 4.4 second forty

Other Weapons

Terrell Zachery 6’1”

210lbs 4.4 second forty

Josh Huff 5’11”

201lbs 4.4 forty

 

One thing that is very apparent is the speed of these two teams. Speed has been a huge advantage for both teams this year. Rarely is so much explosive ability in one game. These two teams scored more touchdowns rushing than over half of the teams in the FBS division scored in total.

 

Position Production

Statistic/Position

Auburn 

Oregon 

Quarterback

 

 

Rushing Yards

1487

630

Rushing Touchdowns

22

7

Running Back

 

 

Rushing Yards

2108

2557

Rushing Touchdowns

19

32

Totals

 

 

Rushing Yards

3595

3187

Touchdowns

41

39

Season Totals

 

 

Rushing Yards

3733

3646

Touchdowns

41

42

Totals From Other Positions

 

 

Rushing Yards

138

459

Touchdowns

0

3

 

From this, fans can see that Oregon is more likely to run the ball with an unconventional player. This can indicate more misdirection in an offense. Both teams use deception and misdirection to throw the timing of the defense off.

Both Auburn and Oregon are very good at defending the rush. Oregon allows 3.33 yards per carry and Auburn 3.49 yards per carry. The approach to accomplishing this task is carried out very differently for each team.

Oregon plays an undersized defensive line. It is almost like having four defensive ends on the field. This allows for more quickness up front and better pursuit for the perimeter rushing game. It also is a distinct disadvantage when facing a powerful offensive line. Oregon also runs more of a 4-2 defense than a traditional 4-3.

All of the Oregon linebackers are somewhat undersized, being more the size of a true safety. They are quick and swarm on defense. They depend on the blitz to get pressure in the backfield.

Auburn runs a traditional 4-3 set with a traditional middle linebacker. They have good speed at the two outside positions. Auburn also uses undersized linebackers to add speed and quickness to the overall defensive scheme. Auburn has had trouble tackling in space at times.

Auburn has a very physical defense that will continue to hit hard and wear on the opposition offense. They punish players harshly that challenge them by running inside.

 

Players

Position

Auburn 

Oregon 

Outside Linebacker

Craig Stevens 6’3”

229lbs

Spencer Paysinger  6’3”

231lbs

Backup Rotation

ElToro Freeman 5’11”

225lbs

Michael Clay 5’11”

225lbs

Backup Rotation

Jonathan Evans 5’11”

230lbs

 

Middle Linebacker

Josh Bynes 6’2”

235lbs

Casey Matthews 6’2”

235lbs

Backup Rotation

Jake Holland 6’0”

231lbs

Bryson Littlejohn 6’1”

225lbs

Backup Rotation

Harris Gaston 6’1”

231lbs

 

Outside Linebacker

Daren Bates 5’11”

203lbs

Josh Kaddu 6’3”

235lbs

Backup Rotation

Jessel Curry

Boseko Lokombo 6’3”

223lbs

Safety

Zac Etheridge 6'

213lbs

John Boyett 5’10”

198lbs

Backup Rotation

Ikeem Means 6’

204lbs

Javes Lewis 6’1”

190lbs

Safety

Mike McNeil 6’2”

208lbs

Eddie Pleasant 5’11”

213lbs

Backup Rotation

Demetruce McNeal 6’1”

176lbs

Marvin Johnson 5’11”

210lbs

 

Both teams use a more conventional rotation at these positions with the starters getting the vast majority of the playing time.

 

Production

Statistic/Position

Auburn 

Oregon 

Linebacker

 

 

Tackles

199

210

Tackles for Loss

12

24

Sacks

4

8

Quarterback Hurries

23

5

Safety

 

 

Tackles

144

138

Tackles for Loss

1

1

Sacks

0

2

Quarterback Hurries

2

0

 

One thing that really stands out is that the Oregon linebackers account for about one third of the quarterback sacks and about one third of the tackles for loss. This is where the Oregon defense makes up for the lack of penetration along the defensive line. They flow to the ball quickly and make plays when they get there.

Oregon also uses a number of blitz packages utilizing the linebackers. These packages are effective at attacking the rushing offense and putting pressure on the quarterback.

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Auburn puts a tremendous amount of disruptive pressure on the quarterback with their linebackers as well. Often they use blitzing linebackers to distract and overload offensive lines to allow the defensive line to make plays.

Neither team makes as many tackles from the safety position as they do from the linebacker positions. This is an indicator of a good rushing defense capability.

Fans can assume that both of these defenses have the speed necessary to make the perimeter rushing attack less than consistent for the opposition team.

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