Tag Archives: Kam Martin

Allstate Sugar Bowl: Oklahoma’s Offense vs. Auburn’s Defense

The Auburn Tigers and Oklahoma Sooners will do battle in the 83rd annual Allstate Sugar Bowl on Monday, January 2nd, 2017, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA. Kickoff is set for 7:30 local time (CT).

The seventh ranked Sooners (10-2, 9-0 Big 12) are Big 12 Champions and winners of nine games in-a-row.

The Tigers (8-4, 5-3 SEC) finished the 2016 campaign ranked 17th in the College Football Playoff Poll. That was good enough for second place in the SEC and a spot in a New Year’s Six  bowl game.

This will be only the second time these two college football powers have met on the gridiron. The first encounter came in the Sugar Bowl, oddly enough, following the 1971 season. In that game, Oklahoma jumped out to a 34-0 lead and never looked back, winning 40-22.

Auburn will be making its sixth (2-2-1) appearance in the Sugar Bowl while the Sooners have played in seven (5-2) of these events.

Oklahoma has a high octane offense which scores at a 44.7 (third in the nation) points per game clip. Its total yardage is 557 yards per game (third in the nation), with 319.8 (12th in the nation) of that coming through the air and 237.5 (21st in the nation) on the ground.

Auburn’s strength is its rushing attack, averaging 278.5 yards per game (sixth in the nation and first in the SEC). The Tigers pass for 170.8 yards per game (112th in the nation) and score an average of 32.3 points per game (47th in the nation).

From these statistics, it is clear that Oklahoma is capable of scoring a lot of points and piling up a great deal of yardage. Auburn has a good offense and can run the ball extremely well.

This is where it gets interesting. Auburn is very stingy in points allowed. It only gives up an average of 15.6 points per game. That is fifth in the nation. And total yardage? The Tigers allow 348 yards per game and that is 20th in the nation.

Oklahoma? It gives up 29.7 points per game and allows 440 yards per game.

Auburn gave up as much as 30 points in only one game this season. That came in a 30-12 loss to SEC Champion and College Football Playoff bound Alabama.

Oklahoma, on the other hand, allowed 59 points to Texas Tech, 46 to TCU, 45 to Ohio State, and 40 to Texas.

It all boils down to Oklahoma’s superb offense vs. Auburn’s stellar defense. And I think the game’s key matchup, within this context, is the Tigers’ defensive line versus the Sooners’ offensive line.

Baker Mayfield is an excellent quarterback and Dede Westbrook is as good as it gets at wide receiver. When you combine those two with the running back tandem of Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine you begin to get an idea of just why the Sooners vaunted offense is, indeed, so lethal.

Mayfield completed 235 out of 330 pass attempts for 3,669 yards (71.2%) and 38 touchdowns with only eight interceptions.

Westbrook caught 74 passes for 1,465 yards. 16 of those receptions went for touchdowns. He averaged 19.8 yards per catch.

Mixon ran for 1,183 yards on 168 tries for 7.0 yards per carry. Perine ran the ball 179 times for 974 yards and 5.4 yards per carry.

But back to the battle of the trenches. I like Auburn’s d-line to handle Oklahoma’s o-line. And I like Auburn’s o-line to fare well against Oklahoma’s d-line.

Auburn should be able to establish the run with Kamryn Pettway and Kerryon Johnson each at full speed. Stanton Truitt and Kam Martin should contribute, as well.

Also, Gus Malzahn says Sean White is well and will not be limited in anyway. That is big news for the Tiger faithful.

One more key is motivation. The news from the Plains is that Auburn is fresh, explosive, highly motivated, and are chomping at the bit to pick up a big win versus a high profile opponent, The Big 12 Champion.

I certainly don’t think Oklahoma will come out flat or listless, but I do think it is disappointed in not making the playoff, and I believe that Auburn wants this one more.

The Sooners are a three-point favorite.

I can see a three-point win, but with the victory going to the Tigers of the SEC.

Auburn 31, Oklahoma 28

Here is some more excellent info, with predictions, on this big game:

http://www.espn.com/blog/ncfnation/post/_/id/134103/sugar-bowl-auburn-tigers-vs-oklahoma-sooners

http://collegefootballnews.com/2016/allstate-sugar-bowl-prediction-game-preview-history-scores

 

E-mail Bird at bird [dot] lecroy [at] campuspressbox [dot] com or follow him on Twitter @Autull.

Yes, Auburn Will Run the Football, Thank You!

College football fans, and Auburn fans in particular, got all hot and bothered and worked into a frenzy last week over the dismissal of potential all-star candidate, running back Jovon Robinson. When asked about it, I responded that Auburn would now have to move the ball on the ground by committee. That they will. And if they can find a quarterback who can at least resemble a threat to run the ball and extend plays, they will be in good shape.

The bottom line is this, Auburn will move the ball on the ground. It’s just a matter of getting the right people in the right place. Gus Malzahn and running back coach, Tim Horton, will see to that. They have had a 1,000-plus yard rusher in each of their three seasons at Auburn. There was Tre Mason in 2013, Cameron Artis-Payne in 2014, and Peyton Barber in 2015. This is Malzahn’s MO.

Also, having Herb Hand as the offensive line coach could prove to be an invaluable asset in 2016. He was the first choice for the position when Malzahn was hired, but he opted to go with then Vanderbilt head coach, James Franklin, to Penn State. He was with Gus at Tulsa in 2007 and 2008, and the Golden Hurricane led the nation in total offense both years. The pair was actually co-coordinators those two seasons. I am in no way suggesting that Auburn will lead the nation in total offense this season, but Gus and Herb do have a seemingly telepathic relationship and the offensive fortunes on the Plains will take a decided upturn.

Before we put the cart before the horse we should take a look at the offensive line. You know the mantra, football is a game won in the trenches. Auburn has a pretty darn good trench on the offensive side of the football. We won’t even get into the beastly gang that will anchor the defense. Take one step at a time.

On the O-line, first of all, Austin Golson, a very athletic player, was moved from center to left tackle where he will have the blindside of whomever the quarterback turns out to be. Xavier Dampeer is back for his final season and seems determined to have a breakout year at center. Road grader Braden Smith will hold down the right guard position and Alex Kozan, an All-SEC performer, should be primed to clear some holes at left guard in his senior season. Robert Leff, yet another senior, appears to have worked his way into the starting lineup at right tackle. This is a formidable crew.

Tight end was not a strength of the 2015 squad but the position should be well-bolstered with Jalen Harris, now a sophomore with some experience, and newcomer Landon Rice, who could remind the Tiger faithful of Phillip Lutzenkirchen. Rice could develop into a star before his time at Auburn comes to an end. Hopefully, this position will be quite a solid one for the coming campaign.

And now, who will tote the rock for the Auburn Tigers? Again, this appears that it will be a group effort and the more I think about it, the more I like the concept.  Click on the name to get the skinny on each player.

Kerryon Johnson 

Kamryn Pettway

Malik Miller

Kameron Martin

Chandler Cox

What does this all mean as the season fast approaches and Auburn seeks to develop all of the above players at the running back position? My sense is that the group will be more than just serviceable. The ground game should be strong, versatile, and yes, even deep. There are guys who can take it inside and there are guys who can take it to the edge. There is speed and there is power. There are more than enough bodies, with good hands, who can haul in passes and make that area a threat again for the Tigers.

Yes, Auburn will, as per usual, run the football with authority. Count on it.

E-mail Bird at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @Autull.