The keys to Auburn's Iron Bowl hopes and what's ailing Florida's offense.
By TIM COUCH FS South
What jumps out to me when you look at Alabama and Auburn is the turnover margin.
Alabama is plus-12 on the season and Auburn is minus-10. If Auburn is going to have any chance in this game, its going to have to take care of the football. If the Tigers turn it over at all, I think they’re really at an even bigger disadvantage. I don’t think they have a chance if they turn it over.
I think another key is Tre Mason, their running back. I think he has to run the ball well. He’s been playing at a pretty high level; he’s an explosive player. They have to get him going in the run game, because if they can’t run the football, then obviously they can’t get their play-action in their passing game going and that makes them one-dimensional and the last thing you want to do against Alabama and that defense is become one-dimensional.
As an Auburn player, even with all the talk about your head coach, Gene Chizik, and all that, I think you put that to the side, especially in a game like this.
It’s a rivalry game It’s Auburn-Alabama; it’s one of the biggest rivalries in all of college football. You go to Auburn or Alabama to play in games like this. I think you block out all the outside distractions of all the talk about your coach, you block out all the talk about how bad you’ve been all year and you really just focus on this one game and you think that you have a chance.
Those Auburn guys, I guarantee you, they’re in their locker room and they believe that they have a chance because if you look at the recent history of this matchup, it’s been fairly close, it’s been really close over the last few years.
Auburn’s had its fair share of success against Alabama. Those guys really feel like they can go out in a one-game scenario and get a win. I think that’s where their focus is going to be and not on outside distractions.
What’s ailing Florida’s offense is …
Early in the season they were running the football so effectively and the Gators really didn’t have the deep-threat passing game and that’s where they’re still lacking right now.
Teams are adjusting to what they’re trying to do offensively. They are getting extra people down in the box to try to load up against Florida’s run game and they’ve been successful. They’ve slowed that running game down with Mike Gillislee and at quarterback, with Jeff Driskel banged up; Jacoby Brissett’s been in the lineup.
They just don’t have that difference-maker at wide receiver and I think that’s the biggest difference for Florida right now. When teams take away that running game, the Gators can’t burn the teams down the field in one-on-one situations with their deep play-action passing game.
I think Florida State is going to be a tough matchup for Florida.
When you look at the Seminoles defensively, I think Mark Stoops, their defensive coordinator, is one of the best in the country. They're not very complicated in what they do, but they are very sound. They’re not going to try to trick you. They’re going to line up and their going to play their basic coverages but they’re really fundamentally sound in what they do.
I think Florida State can take away Florida’s running game and then on the back end, I just don’t know if Florida can make the plays in the passing game, because all season long it hasn’t shown the ability to hurt good teams down the field in those type of situations in one-on-one matchups.