Nov 7, 2015; College Station, TX, USA; Texas A&M Aggies wide receiver Christian Kirk (3) attempts to make a reception as Auburn football defensive back Stephen Roberts (14) defends during the fourth quarter at Kyle Field. The Tigers defeated the Aggies 26-10. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
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Here we break down every matchup for Auburn football against Texas A&M this weekend as the two teams faceoff in a huge SEC West game.
Auburn football and Gus Malzahn have a big test this weekend as Kevin Sumlin and Texas A&M come to town.
The Aggies are out to a 2-0 start with a win over a ranked UCLA team and a 69-0 thrashing over an FCS team.
Meanwhile, Auburn’s offense sputtered against Clemson in the opener, but was brought back to life in their 51-14 win over Arkansas State.
Coming into the season everyone pointed to this game as a swing game for both teams. This will show which team belongs in the top four of the SEC West.
Both head coaches also entered the season on the hot seat, so this game could determine who sticks around.
The wins in this series have gone back-and-forth since 2012 with Auburn winning at Kyle Field last year. The 26-10 win came as a bit of a shocker in what was a terrible year for Auburn. It also helped Auburn avoid the embarrassment of not becoming bowl eligible.
You know Sumlin and the Aggies will be looking for revenge at Jordan-Hare Stadium this year. The winner of this game will have a leg up in the SEC West race, and a ton of confidence moving forward.
Sep 10, 2016; College Station, TX, USA; Texas A&M Aggies wide receiver Christian Kirk (3) scores a touchdown after a reception during the second quarter against the Prairie View A&M Panthers at Kyle Field. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Texas A&M Offense vs. Auburn Defense
Looking back to last year, Auburn’s defense smothered Texas A&M’s offense, holding them to just 10 points and 303 total yards.
At the time, the Aggies were ranked 19th in the country and Auburn was unranked. This year the Aggies are ranked 17th in the country and Auburn is unranked. Hopefully history repeats itself.
Texas A&M has more stability at quarterback this year with Oklahoma transfer Trevor Knight. Through two games he’s thrown for 583 yards and 4 touchdowns, while rushing for 109 yards and 3 touchdowns.
They have a couple of good running backs in Keith Ford and Trayveon Williams. Each has already surpassed 100 yards rushing on the season and are averaging over 5 yards a carry.
Sep 3, 2016; Auburn, AL, USA; Auburn Tigers defensive backs Jeremiah Dinson (20), Carlton Davis (6), and Javaris Davis (31) leave the field for halftime against the Clemson Tigers at Jordan Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports
Christian Kirk is one of the best receivers in the country, and he leads the Aggies with 13 catches for 164 yards and 2 touchdowns. Josh Reynolds is another great option for Knight as he has caught six passes for 131 yards for a 21.8 average.
Texas A&M is averaging 49 points and 557 yards per game through two weeks. In the UCLA game they scored 31 points and had 442 yards of offense with one overtime period. They had over 200 yards passing and rushing in that game.
The Auburn offense has held teams to 16.5 points and 362.5 yards per game this season.
Auburn football has given up just 257 yards on the ground through two games, so it will be interesting to see how Texas A&M attacks the interior of Auburn’s defensive line.
Marlon Davidson and Carl Lawson are both quick defensive ends who can run sideline-to-sideline, so I don’t think their stretch plays will be as effective against Auburn.
Tre’ Williams and Darrell Williams have come along nicely at linebacker in two games. I think they’ll be able to stuff the run as well.
The key for the Auburn defense in this game will be matching up with their receivers. Carlton Davis should be glued to Christian Kirk all game.
However, Josh Reynolds could be a problem if he gets loose in the secondary like Arkansas State’s receivers did last week. Our secondary is still young and inexperienced, but Johnathan Ford should be enough to keep Reynolds from getting any chunk plays.
One thing to mention is that Knight hasn’t been super accurate with the ball this season completing just 54 percent of his passes. He’s also thrown 2 interceptions so look for the secondary to come up with a big play as well.
UCLA’s defense held them to just 24 points through four quarters, and I think Auburn’s defense is much better than the Bruins’.
Sep 10, 2016; Auburn, AL, USA; Auburn Tigers running back Kerryon Johnson (21) dives for the end zone as Arkansas State Red Wolves cornerback Nehemiah Wagner (2) defends during the first quarter at Jordan Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports
Auburn’s Offense vs. Texas A&M Defense
We’ve seen two totally different offenses for Auburn after two games. If the latter is what we see going forward, our like our chances in this game.
After struggling to the tune of 13 points and 262 yards against Clemson, they broke out for 51 points and 706 totals yards against Arkansas State.
A lot of the change had to do with the fact that Gus Malzahn allowed Sean White to start and remain at quarterback. He looked much more comfortable throwing the football.
Kerryon Johnson has looked really good this season at running back with 218 yards and 3 touchdowns on 41 carries. Kamryn Pettway, who didn’t receive a single carry against Clemson, rushed for 152 yards on 15 carries against Arkansas State.
It looks like Auburn football has their 1-2 punch at running back now.
We’re still waiting for someone to emerge at wide receiver. Right now Marcus Davis has 7 catches, while Tony Stevens and Will Hastings each has five. Elven different players have a caught a pass so far this season.
Oct 17, 2015; College Station, TX, USA; Texas A&M Aggies defender Myles Garrett (15) celebrates his blocked punt against Alabama Crimson Tide punter J.K. Scott (15) in the third quarter at Kyle Field. Mandatory Credit: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports
When you think about the Texas A&M defense, there is one guy that stands out. Defensive end Myles Garrett is by far the best player on the defense, and he’ll quite possibly be the number pick in the next NFL Draft.
So far this season he has just 1.5 tackles for a loss and 1 sack, but he leads the team with 4 quarterback hurries. The Auburn offensive line played much better against Arkansas State, allowing just one sack, but they’ll have their hands full against Garrett.
As a defense, Texas A&M has already racked up 8 sacks and 17 tackles for a loss. Auburn did a much better jump of limiting negative plays against Arkansas State after Clemson had 14 tackles for a loss against us in week one.
With all the attention on Garrett, keep an eye on defensive end Daeshon Hall who already has 3 tackles for a loss this season.
Shaan Washington is the team’s best linebacker. After recording over 80 tackles in 2015, he already has 13 through two games in 2016. He also has 1 tackle for a loss, 1 sack, 5 pass break-ups and 2 quarterback hurries.
Armani Watts is the most experienced guy in the secondary, but Justin Evans leads the team two with 2 interceptions, while Nick Harvey leads the team with 15 totals.
I don’t think this defense is any better than what Clemson threw at us, but it will still be stout. Auburn’s offense will need to be on its A-game to crack 30 points.
Sep 10, 2016; Auburn, AL, USA; Auburn Tigers receiver Will Hastings (33) celebrates a touchdown with receiver Tony Stephens (8) during the second quarter against the Arkansas State Red Wolves at Jordan Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports
I mention 30 points because I think that’s what it will take to win this game. I think this matchup could be very similar to the UCLA game they played, except they’ll be at our house.
Everyone keeps saying Josh Rosen will be a great quarterback, but so far he’s hasn’t looked any better than Sean White to me.
I think our running backs are better than anything UCLA has to offer, and we have some skill guys at wide receiver ready to break out.
Auburn has already faced, and limited, Clemson’s offense who I think has vastly superior offensive talents than Texas A&M. Sure Clemson hasn’t played up to their potential through two weeks, but you can’t deny the talent that team possesses.
In order for Auburn to win, they’ll need to contain Trevor Knight and not allow him to beat them with is legs, which means the linebackers will have to step up. Chad Voytik for Arkansas State is a similar runner, and I thought Tre’ Williams and company kept him check for the most part.
The biggest matchup will be between Texas A&M’s receivers and our secondary. I can’t wait to watch Carlton Davis go up against Christian Kirk. Hopefully the coaching staff pairs them up early instead of waiting until the second half like they did with Mike Williams in the Clemson game.
The Aggies’ receivers are big and physical, so our secondary will have to come up and make some big tackles. They’ve done a great job of that this year so far, so I have no reason to believe that this Saturday will be any different.
On offense they just have to stick with what they did against Arkansas State. Allow Sean White to open up the running game by passing the ball on early downs. He’ll have to get rid of it quickly as A&M’s pass rush is top notch.
White showed good decision making against Arkansas State in knowing when to tuck it and run. I’m not sure he’ll be able to out-run Texas A&M’s defense like that, but instead he’ll need to know when to get rid of the ball.
If our defense didn’t give up more than 20 points to Clemson, I don’t see them giving up much more than that to Texas A&M. It will be up to our offense to get into the upper 20’s or low 30’s to win this game.