Auburn Football: #9 Tigers at #15 Georgia Preview and Predictions

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Nov 8, 2014; Auburn, AL, USA; Auburn Tigers quarterback Nick Marshall (14) and quarterback Jeremy Johnson (6) walk off the field after the game against the Texas A&M Aggies at Jordan Hare Stadium. Texas A&M won 41-38. Mandatory Credit: Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

Auburn’s Keys to Victory

1. Better communication and tackling on defense. After the loss to Texas A&M, Tigers CB Jonathon Mincy was asked why Auburn’s secondary has looked so disjointed recently. He pointed towards miscommunication, saying, “It can be anything. Maybe some of the players not looking at the right play-caller, or not having time to look over there, and it’s just not being communicated throughout the secondary.” That’s a huge problem for Ellis Johnson’s defense. After allowing only 306 total yards per game in the first five games, Auburn has allowed 487.2 yards per game. The pass defense has been shredded as well, allowing 12 touchdown passes in the last four games. With the weapons Georgia has, Auburn needs better communication or else it’ll be up to the offense to win… yet again.

2. The offense needs to stop beating itself. Auburn’s offense is one of the best in the country, but it has frequently been ineffective because it stops itself. Three fumbles in Texas A&M territory cost the Tigers 21 guaranteed points.

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Against Ole Miss, Auburn lost a red zone chance because of an ill-advised Nick Marshall interception. Two turnovers on the first two plays found Auburn in an early 21-0 hole in Starkville, which prevented them from ever threatening to win the game. The Tigers average 506.8 yards of offense per game. The only SEC foe to hold them to fewer than 500 yards was Mississippi State. Georgia’s defense is mediocre, as evidenced by the 418 rushing yards they gave up to Florida. Auburn’s offense has to stop shooting themselves in the foot, because there’s no defense in America that can stop the offense when it’s not beating itself.

3. Tackle. It seems almost sarcastic that this is key for Auburn, but the fact is, in the last month, Auburn’s tackling has been shades of 2012. It’s been bad. According to defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson, Texas A&M gained over 100 yards of offense on missed Auburn tackles last week. Going up against Todd Gurley and Nick Chubb, that won’t cut it. I don’t know what the reason is for Auburn’s sharp decline in tackling ability these past few weeks, but they have to tackle better in Athens on Saturday, or else this game will become a true shootout.

Next: Georgia's Keys to Victory