Auburn is set to have their second test of the season Saturday night against the San Jose State Spartans.
The Tiger’s offense had a good but far from perfect showing in Week 1 against Mercer and has several things they need to improve on this weekend. Tank Bigbsy and Jarquez Hunter looked as good as advertised, combining for 184 yards and five touchdowns, but will be facing a tougher test this weekend.
The Spartans held Portland State to 17 points and just 3.57 yards per carry. They also limited any big runs, Portland State’s longest run was for 14 yards.
While the rushing attack looked to be in midseason form against Mercer, the same was not true for the passing offense. T.J. Finley and Robby Ashford and the receivers will have a great chance to work on protecting the football, creating explosive plays, and getting more experience before Auburn’s schedules gets significantly more challenging.
Here are five areas Auburn’s offense needs to work on in their game against the Spartans. The game is set to start at 6:30 p.m. CT Saturday and will be on ESPNU.
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Auburn lost the turnover battle last week 2-0 and that needs to be fixed. Both interceptions by Finley were bad, the first being a poor decision and the second being a mechanical breakdown. If those turnovers do not happen, Auburn would have won by an even larger margin. They need to fix that this weekend against San Jose State before they get into the meat of the schedules and turnovers can be the difference between winning and losing.
Contain Cade Hall
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Hall is the Spartan’s best defender and Auburn will need to work to contain the 6-foot-3, 270-pound defensive lineman. He was the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year in 2020 and has 31.5 tackles for loss and 18.0 sacks in his career and is capable of disrupting Auburn’s offense. He will be a nice test for the offensive line in their second game together.
More play action deep shots
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The strength of Auburn’s offense is the run game with Bigsby and Hunter but they can use that to help the passing attack. Opposing defenses will have to respect them and Auburn can exploit that through play action for explosive plays. The Tigers had just three receptions of 20 or more yards last week and dialing up some play-action deep shots could be a way to create more of those opportunities.
Continue working on the QB rotation
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While Harsin has experience using two quarterbacks it is a tricky process that will likely not alwaysgo perfectly. This game gives Auburn another chance to iron out any kinks in the process ahead of Penn State and let both quarterbacks get more comfortable in the system.
Air it out
(AP Photo/Stew Milne)
Speaking of the quarterbacks, the duo combined for just 21 pass attempts last week, and this week is their last chance to get experience against an inferior defense. This will be important for both the quarterbacks and the wide receivers with both groups having plenty of questions entering the season and few were answered last week.
Auburn should not need to throw the ball to beat the Spartans and with more bad weather in the forecast they may decide to limit passes and rely on the ground game, but this is a great chance to get more experience for the young players.