NGSC Sports

How Auburn can beat Florida St.

On January 6, 2014, the National Championship of College Football will be decided in Pasadena, California as the Auburn Tigers will take on the Florida State Seminoles. We know what the Seminoles bring to this game, a Heisman Trophy winner in Jameius Winston whose freshman season will go down as one of the best in college football history. A defense that gives up only eleven points per game, best in FBS this season. But what about Auburn? What do they have that could give Florida State trouble in this game.

In twelve of the thirteen games played by the Tigers, their offense was able to generated at least 30 points per game. Overall for the season, this unit averaged 40 points per game. Getting into a track meet with the Seminoles is not a wise idea, but you will need to score points if you want to be called National Champions. The Tigers are at their best when they run the football,  as they average 335.7 yards on the ground this season gaining 6.5 yards per attempt with 46 rushing touchdowns. Heisman finalist Tre Mason is the catalysts of the running game. On the season Mason gain 1,638 yards on 283 carries. He averaged 5.7 yards per carry and 124.7 yards per game, with 22 rushing touchdowns. Help comes in the form of quarterback Nick Marshall, who ran for 1,162 yards this season, averaging 6.6 yards per carry with 11 TD’s. Running mate, Carey Grant, chipped in with 664 yards on 65 attempts and six TD’s averaging 50.0 yards per game. Auburn’s offensive line’s ability to control the line of scrimmage will be a must if the Tigers are to have any chance.

The weakness of the Auburn attack is the passing game,  as quarterback Nick Marshall threw for 1,759 yards completing 60.4% of his passes. His touchdowns to interceptions ratio is not bad at 12 TD’S to five INT’s, but gaining only 146.6 yards through the air is not good enough. Expect the Seminoles to stack the box against the Auburn running game in an attempt to force Marshall to beat them over the top. When the ball is thrown down field, WR Sammie Coates has been Marshall’s favorite target. During the season Coates had 38 catches good for 841 yards and 7 touchdowns. Ricardo Louis has also factored in with 26 grabs for 297 yards and two TD’S. If Marshall decides to throw the ball to a back out of the backfield, then Mason is his man with 11 receptions for 121 yards. The Tigers will have to show the Florida State defense that they can go up top in the passing game, stretching the Seminoles defense with long and mid-range throws could be enough to keep FSU from stacking the line against Auburn running game.

Third down conversions and red zone offense was where Auburn was very good. For the season the Tigers converted on 46% (77 of 169) of their chances, keeping drives alive will surely be a plus for Auburn as it will also keep the football out of the hands of a capable FSU attack. When they get into scoring territory, the Tigers usually score points. On 57 tries the Tigers were in the red zone during the season and they scored on 51 of those times. They had 42 of them end up in touchdowns. Placekicker Cody Parker has been solid in the kicking game, connecting on 14 of 19 field goal tries with his longest being from 52 yards. Auburn, who during the season outscored their opponents in every quarter, by a combine 522 to 312, must be good in the red zone on January 6.

The defense allowed 24.0 points per game this season and 423.5 yards per game. On the ground, Auburn gave up 464 yards, 4.6 yards per rush. In the air 260.2 yards 7.4 yards per pass and 12.7 yards per catch. The unit also gave up 34% of third down chances to their opposition (64 of 188). In the red zone the defense was scored upon 71% of the time (34 for 48), with 23 of those scores being touchdowns. This defense will have their hands full with the FSU attack and getting off the field will be a challenge they must be successful at. Defensively, Chris Davis leads them in tackles with 69 total (49 solo, 20 assisted). He received help from Casanova McKinzy who register 66 total tackles (38 solo, 28 assisted). Dee Ford led the team in sacks with 8.5 for 81 yards in losses. Carl Lawson recorded 4.0 and 18 yards in losses. Overall the defense managed 28 sacks of opposing quarterbacks  good for 201 yards in losses, they hurried the QB 110 times in 2013. Getting in Winston’s face and forcing him to make quick decisions with the football before he is ready to will be a big help.

Special teams play could end up deciding this game. Auburn has some weapons their as well. In the kicking return game, Tre Mason average 26.3 yards per kick return with one return for a touchdown (100 yards). In the punting game Chris Davis averaged 20.1 yard per return with one TD (85 yards) and who can forget what he did at the end of the Iron Bowl game vs. Alabama. Punter Steven Clark averaged 42.5 yards per punt, 52 is his longest and he had zero blocked. He recorded 4 touchbacks, 23 fair catches, and had 21 punts landed inside the 20 yard line. Forcing Florida State to use the long field every time they have the ball could be a real help to the Tigers defense.

The Auburn Tigers are a very good football team. To win this game they must play to their strength on both sides of the ball and on special teams. If they can do that and limit their mistakes, they just might leave Pasadena as National Champions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: