The weekly Auburn Wire Roundtable is back after a one-week hiatus!
What a week it has been. Between the news of Bryan Harsin firing Auburn wide receivers coach Cornelius Williams and the drama of Bo Nix being benched against Georgia State, there’s been a lot to digest this week.
Auburn starts conference play on the road at Baton Rogue to take on an LSU team that looked good against Mississippi State last week. We thought it would be fun to invite a guest to join us at this week’s roundtable.
Check out our conversation below.
Who starts at Quarterback for Auburn?
Jake Crandall via Imagn Content Services, LLC
Zac Blackerby: I think Auburn goes with Bo Nix. I think Finley provides more upside and could make for a great story against his old team but I believe Nix will get the nod.
Lance Dawe: I think Nix will trot out there for the first few series, and if he doesn’t look good, I think Finley steps in. This coaching staff will have Nix on a short leash.
JD McCarthy: T.J. Finley. He led the drive that won you the game last week. Unless he has been terrible in practice then he deserves a chance to show what he can do. No matter who starts I would not be surprised if the coaching staff has a quick hook if he struggles.
Patrick Conn: This is probably the toughest question for the week and likely the easiest to answer. If you look at how Bo Nix performed against Penn State and then Georgia State, it wasn’t pretty. He has thrown the ball 64 times over the last two games with 30 incompletions. His average yards per throw were just 5.3. Finley came in against the same Georgia State team a gave them Auburn’s only touchdown drive of the game and the only one over 70 yards. Seems like the juice he added on offense is what they need.
Give me TJ Finley.
What needs to go right for Auburn to win this game?
Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
ZB: Auburn has to run the football and win the game in the trenches. The Tigers need a big game from Tank Bigsby and Jarquez Hunter to get the win.
LD: The running game needs to be more explosive than it was last weekend. Auburn’s offense can’t operate without a ground game to lean on. The pass rush also needs to get home at some point. Auburn was dangerously close to beating Penn State but the rush didn’t affect Sean Clifford. It’s going to have to get to Max Johnson.
JDM: On defense, Auburn must try and contain the LSU passing attack. LSU has struggled to run the ball and if Auburn can slow down an impressive passing attack, then Auburn will be in a good place to win in Baton Rouge.
PC: The one aspect that this team has struggled to defend was the crossing routes in the early going of the season. LSU lacked in the communication aspect of the defense. They also were allowing too many chunk plays. They have allowed an SEC worst two plays of 70+ yards and two more of 60+. If they can get those big plays, they will be in good shape against an LSU defense missing key veterans in Derek Stingley Jr and Andre Anthony.
What can’t go wrong on Saturday for Auburn?
John Reed-USA TODAY Sports
ZB: Auburn’s defense can’t look like it has over the past two weeks. The backend of Auburn’s coverage has to be tighter and they must limit big plays.
LD: Auburn’s secondary can’t get caught napping. LSU is the first team Auburn has faced that can really stretch the field vertically. Auburn’s receivers need to help out whoever is playing QB as well.
JDM: Auburn can not afford to find them themselves in obvious passing situations. The LSU defense has struggled to stop the run all season but can rush the quarterback very well. If Auburn is frequently in obvious passing situations, then the LSU defense will have an opportunity to wreck the Auburn offense.
PC: Auburn has to find a way to put pressure on this defense. If they can’t move the ball through the air, they will attack the run game. When forced into throwing situations, LSU has the hounds to get after the quarterback. Auburn has done a good job of protecting the quarterback but they haven’t seen a pass rush the caliber of LSU yet this season. They must keep Nix or Finley upright.
How many touches should Bigsby and Hunter get?
Jake Crandall via Imagn Content Services, LLC
ZB: As many as they can handle. Bigsby needs 20+. I wouldn’t hate seeing Hunter hit 15 on the night.
LD: A combined 25+ carries sounds reasonable. If it’s closer to 35 I wouldn’t be surprised.
JDM: I’m going to say 37, with Tank getting 25 and Hunter getting 12. Auburn’s strength is rushing the ball and LSU has struggled to stop the run this season. I expect LSU to load the box and force whoever the Auburn quarterback is to try and beat them through the air. With that being said, Bigsby and Hunter have the ability to be successful against loaded boxes and deserve plenty of touches.
PC: Against Daronte Jones’ defense, teams have run the ball on average 36 times a game. UCLA saw success with their backfield duo getting 28 carries combined against the defense. I would say in that 25-30 range combined for them. If they are getting less then the team is likely playing from behind and that could spell bad news for Auburn. If they are passing more, the pass rush and the crowd will get into the game making it difficult on the quarterbacks.
Predict the score.
Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.
ZB: LSU 27 Auburn 17
LD: LSU 37 Auburn 27
JDM: LSU 24 Auburn 20
PC: LSU 31 Auburn 27