Published September 19, 2012 - 7:32pm
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At the beginning of the season, LSU-Auburn was being billed as the first big test of the season for the Bayou Bengals. Since then, LSU has been solidifying itself as a national title contender, while Auburn is still trying to find an identity on both sides of the ball. While LSU still might be tested, it won’t necessarily be by the Plainsmen’s defense.
Auburn’s defense has not improved much from the 2011 season. In the SEC, Auburn is 13th in total defense this year. The War Eagles are also last in the SEC in defending the run. LSU leads the SEC in rushing with almost 6.0 yards per carry, while claiming the four spot in total offense. This isn’t the game for improvement to occur and a week of practice won’t cure the issues Auburn has in the fourth quarter…where it has been outscored 31-3.
When the Plainsmen go on offense, things won’t be any more promising. The will be facing a ferocious LSU defense. The Tigers are dominating in rushing defense (47 ypg), total defense (205 ypg) and opponent first downs (11.7 per game).
Even if Kiehl Frazier does get time to throw, it wouldn’t be wise to pick on freshman Jalen Collins. While opposing QBs have avoided Tharold Simon’s side of the field, they haven’t had much luck going against the Honey Badger’s replacement. Collins was pegged by John Chavis to replace Tyrann Mathieu, and he hasn’t disappointed. Collins has two interceptions to go with four passes broken up.
The real test for this weekend will be the crowd. Playing at Auburn will present some unique challenges. Many LSU players will be getting their first taste of the SEC and doing it away from home.
The 87,000-plus at Jordan Hare could give LSU the most trouble when the Bayou Bengals are on offense. This will be the first time Zach Mettenberger will be playing in front of a large, hostile crowd and could lead to some pre-snap errors. Auburn’s defense will need that help this week.
Les Miles has also had to get plenty of snaps to a lot of freshmen to build up the quality of his defensive depth. On defense, they appear to be remarkably talented. However, three home games at Tiger Stadium will not fully prepare the new guys for a conference road game, especially at Jordan Hare. This, along with Auburn looking for some revenge over last year’s drubbing, could make things interesting.
Yet, interesting does not mean close. Auburn should stick around longer than Idaho or Washington. The Plainsmen are supposed to. In the end though, the AU just don’t have enough depth on defense to survive LSU’s ground attack. Alfred Blue will be out of the game, but he wasn’t the one who ran over Auburn last year. That honor was shared Kenny Hilliard and Michael Ford. Both of whom will still be in the LSU backfield on Saturday.
In the end, Auburn’s crowd will provide a rude welcome and test the nerves of a bevy of Bayou Bengals getting their first playing time in the SEC. However, it should be a test that LSU passes easily once the ground game gets going…and you know it will on Saturday.