AUBURN | Gus Malzahn has made repeated promises that Auburn’s offense is going to get better.
This Saturday is a prime opportunity against a defense that’s on the ropes.
The 15th-ranked Tigers travel to Columbia to take on Missouri, which is 1-2 and ranks last in the SEC and 103rd nationally in total defense allowing 442.7 yards per game, and last in the SEC and 113th nationally in scoring defense allowing 36.3 point per game.
Defensive coordinator DeMontie Cross was fired after a 31-13 loss to South Carolina and the team responded with a 35-3 loss to Purdue last Saturday, giving up 477 total yards.
Jay G. Tate/AuburnSports.com
“Defensively, Coach Barry Odum is taking over the defense. I’ve got a lot of respect for him as a coach. He does a lot of good things,” Malzahn said. “When I look at their defense, their defensive front is disruptive, and probably the biggest thing is trying to predict how they are going to play.”
Auburn, 2-1 with wins over Georgia Southern and Mercer and a 14-6 loss at Clemson, ranks eighth in the SEC and 83rd nationally in total offense averaging 387.3 yards per game, and 13th in the SEC and 100th nationally in scoring offense averaging 23.7 points per game.
“From a head coach's standpoint, the facts are we're 2-1 and the team we got beat by might be the best team in the country again,” Malzahn said. “We're starting SEC play, and that's what we've been building up to. We have a new coordinator and new quarterback, and they'll consistently get better.
“We have a very good defense - the second ranked defense in the country right now. Our kicking game is solid. We can be better, but if we keep improving, we can play with anybody in the country.”
Missouri’s offense should provide a test for an Auburn defense that ranks second in the SEC and second nationally in total defense allowing 201.7 yards per game.
Missouri is led by one of the SEC’s top quarterbacks in junior Drew Lock, top wide receivers in J’Mon Moore and top running backs in Demarea Crockett.
“They’ve got a lot of speed at wide receiver, they’ve got a quarterback that can throw it and they are very explosive on the offensive side of the football,” Malzahn said.
“Overall, it’s a good challenge for us. When you’re on the road in the SEC, you’ve always got to be prepared. Our message has been that we have to get better each week and now that SEC play is here, we have to play our best football, so we’re excited for that.”
Kickoff at Memorial Stadium is set for 6:30 p.m. CT on ESPNU.