Gus Malzahn may have landed the big fish, the five-star QB full of promise, but he no longer coaches the Auburn Tiger’s because he couldn't develop Bo Nix. Enter Bryan Harsin, a new culture, more discipline, and a rough start that included the benching of QB1 vs Georgia State that challenged Bo Nix for the first time since being in the program. How would Nix respond? The week after being benched vs lowly Georgia State, Bo Nix turned in a legendary performance against LSU at Death Valley... he hasn't looked back since.
Don’t get me wrong, there is talent up and down the Tiger’s roster but Nix is the catalyst that elevates this program to its full potential and should be the single scariest player on the Aggie's radar. Speaking of that talent, Auburn has multiple backs that can hurt you, and like the Aggies, they utilize them all. These two teams are actually a lot of like when you watch the offensive tape, they both pound the rock and then take shots off play-action or RPOs. Only Texas A&M and Auburn have two backs each in the top 8 rushing leaders of the SEC.
Bo Nix, Tank Bigsby, Jarquez Hunter, and Demetris Robertson are real threats when the Tigers have the ball, but Texas A&M’s front seven is very capable of disrupting their game plan. The good news however is that on the defensive side of the ball Auburn has shown some variabilities, especially against the run. The Tigers are 9th in total defense in the SEC, giving up 127 yards per game on the ground and 229 through the air.
Let's look at some examples of what can hurt the Aggies and what should be available to exploit, and ultimately get a huge conference WIN.
It all starts with the run game and Tank Bigsby and in this first example, the offensive line gets enough movement that Tank is not even touched until he is in the secondary.
More Tank, and this time he flashes his jump-cut skills and agility that is downright scary for a big strong back.
After grounding and pounding the defense, Auburn will take some shots on play-action passes.
Later in the same game, on the road in a tough environment, Bo Nix hits another dagger off a run fake.
When all goes according to plan, this offense is scary enough, but when things break down, Bo Nix is at his most dangerous. Last week against Ole Miss, he performed this disappearing trick.
But this play here, goodness, this is why Bo was a 5-star recruit and will be a high draft pick one-day soon. I don’t know where to begin here, on the road, scrabbling for your life, and then throws an absolute dime for the TD. He makes at least four defenders miss and somehow as the presence to keep his eyes downfield and find the open man. WOW
THERE IS GOOD NEWS
This defense has some star power but to this point only flashes in the consistency and cohesiveness department. This first example is against Georgia State :/ and this game was a four-quarter dog fight against an inferior opponent.
The next few examples are nothing fancy and that is on purpose, Ole Miss ran the ball downhill and with ease. Spiller and Achane should but have big nights again, and I am all for playing the time of possession game this week more than week’s past.
I don’t want to paint too gloomy of a picture for Saturday afternoon, but I do think Auburn is the second toughest team the Ags will face all year. The good news is, the 2021 version of the Aggies seem to have found themselves, and they are a legitimate contender. The slip-ups earlier in the year don’t allow for any miss-steps down the stretch, but over the next few weeks, our Aggies will be in some seriously high stakes games. Depending on what happens around the country will impact just how high those stakes are, but sign me up for this anythime! Meaningful November football looks like it’s here to stay in the Jimbo Fisher era... let’s sit back and enjoy! GIG’EM & BTHOauburn!