Auburn Football 3 Keys: Mississippi State

Auburn football three keys

The Auburn Tigers could not have asked for more from their defense in recent weeks.

By Matt Zemek

Limiting both Ole Miss and Texas A&M to 20 points represents a tremendous feat for coordinator Derek Mason, who has reminded everyone in the SEC that while his head coaching stint at Vanderbilt did not go smoothly, he can still coach defense with the best of them. Auburn is getting maximum effort and quality results from its defense. The offense, on the other hand, wasn’t able to hold up under pressure in its most recent outing.

Auburn’s offense withered in a 20-3 loss to Texas A&M. The defense stood on its head for nearly three full quarters but never got the help it needed and, frankly, deserved. Now Auburn will try to regroup against Mississippi State, which had a tough-luck loss to Arkansas this past weekend.

1 – Patient offense

Auburn can’t get suckered into going for the huge play in this game. Mississippi State’s defense is not an elite unit, but it has contained quarterbacks who either aren’t patient or who aren’t operating at the height of their powers. Mississippi State beat Zach Calzada and Texas A&M in the final game before Calzada turned his season around against Alabama. Mississippi State handled Will Levis and the inconsistent Kentucky offense. MSU thwarted a North Carolina State offense which will go against Wake Forest this upcoming Saturday with the ACC Atlantic Division on the line. Mississippi State doesn’t have a dynamic defense, but it has shown that it will wait out opposing quarterbacks and pounce when they don’t maintain their focus. Bo Nix has to be willing to take the short gain and live for the next play. He can’t get greedy. He needs to be willing to slowly move the ball down the field and take what MSU gives him. Being antsy and overly aggressive, given how well his defense is playing, is precisely what Bo Nix cannot afford to do in this game.

2 – Defensive line masterpiece (again)

Auburn’s defensive front stifled the Ole Miss running game and thumped Zach Calzada of Texas A&M. Auburn is getting everything it could reasonably hope for out of this position group. Another strong performance here will blunt the effectiveness and timing of Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense. A finesse passing attack can’t function well if Auburn punches the Bulldogs in the mouth.

3 – Offensive line finding anger and aggression

The Auburn offensive line was flatly embarrassed by Texas A&M’s defensive front. Everyone in that position group needs to play Mississippi State as though the Bulldogs stole their lunch money. A defiant and proud performance from one of Auburn’s weakest position groups is a central key to victory.

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