Auburn Football: Iron Bowl Q&A With Bama Hammer


The 15th ranked Auburn football team will travel to Tuscaloosa Saturday for the newest edition of college football’s greatest rivalry. The Tigers will take on No. 1 Alabama in the 79th Iron Bowl. As we look ahead to the game, and because we play nice here on the FanSided network, we sat down with Tony Breland, the editor of Bama Hammer (@Bama_Hammer on Twitter).

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Tony was kind enough to answer some of our questions in regards to this weekend’s game.

Fly War Eagle: There’s no sense in beating around the bush. Last year’s 34-28 Auburn victory was one of the greatest in the history of the series, if not in all of college football history. How have you been holding up the last 365 days (and one second)?

Bama Hammer: That was as horrible a loss for Alabama fans as any in the series. The fact is, despite the miracle kickoff return, Alabama lost the game well before that. Setting aside the mental errors on that kickoff coverage, Alabama’s defense gave up nearly 300 rushing yards to Auburn, and you cannot do that and expect to dominate a team like Auburn. The Tide have had a long year to think about this game, and how they intend things to be different this year.

FWE:  Kidding aside, let’s move on to this year’s clash. Amari Cooper has emerged this season as a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate, but he (and a few others) suffered an injury last week against Western Carolina. Will Cooper and the others be at full speed this week in the Iron Bowl?

BH: There’s no question that the Tide are banged up, but the key players should all be healthy for the game. Amari Cooper got rest after his scary moment against the Catamounts, and TJ Yeldon got the week off. It’s been a long season, but the Tide should be as close to full strength as possible this weekend.

FWE: Cooper’s success this season has come with Blake Sims tossing him passes and Lane Kiffin calling the plays, though the pair hasn’t always been the most popular. How have Bama fans felt about their quarterback-OC duo this season and heading into Saturday’s game?

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  • BH: Alabama fans always want you to run the dang ball, but overall Kiffin has impressed Bama Nation. He’s opened up the playbook and played to the strengths of the personnel, mainly by getting the ball into Cooper’s hands early and often. The knock on Kiffin is that he’s a PAC-12 guy at heart with a pass-happy philosophy, but as long as he has Saban in his ear when it’s called for, the fans will be happy.

    FWE: The Alabama defense has played great all season, but Nick Saban and Kirby Smart have struggled at times to defend Gus Malzahn offenses in particular and mobile quarterbacks in general. How do you see them handling Malzahn’s attack and Nick Marshall behind center?

    BH: The key to defending a Malzahn offense is getting a push on the defensive line to shut down the run and force the offense to be one dimensional. That’s a lot easier said that done, so Alabama will have a fight on its hands. The Tide defense is much improved over the course of this season, so the hope is that home will be sweet for Alabama.

    FWE: Alabama comes in ranked No. 1 and as a heavy favorite at home. Care to make a prediction on the outcome?

    BH: Alabama is favored by around 10, and that sounds right if – and it’s a big if – Alabama can jump on Auburn early and assert their dominance. If the Tide allow Auburn to hang around late and believe they have a chance to pull off the upset in Tuscaloosa, this one could be a nail biter.

    Thanks Tony, see you Saturday!

    Next: 2014 Iron Bowl Preview and Predictions

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