TideIllustrated – Know the Enemy: An Opposing View of Alabama’s Matchup with Auburn

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Tide Illustrated’s Max Wolborsky spoke to AuburnSports publisher Jay G Tate to discuss this week’s Iron Bowl between No. 7 Alabama and Auburn.

What’s different with Auburn under Carnell Williams?

“The former Auburn tailback has returned the passion to a sideline that, frankly, has had very little in recent years. Williams, who served as an offensive assistant before being elevated to interim head coach in October, calls no plays and is not a major element in terms of game plan. He’s really pushed this idea of ​​”service” which he interprets as being available to his players and always behind them. That may seem like a rudimentary thing for a head coach to do but this is actually the opposite of what Bryan Harsin did.”

What would qualify as a success for Auburn in this game?

“Auburn will go into this game as a 22-point underdog, give or take a few points. The Tigers rarely enjoy much success at Bryant-Denny Stadium, so I’d say a fairly close game would be a successful performance. Can Auburn Win the game There’s a chance It’s not a big chance.

“The most important thing from an Auburn perspective is that Williams has created an energy and a level of responsibility that didn’t exist a month ago. That’s worth something.”

Alabama has seen a recent improvement in its running game. Will Auburn be able to slow that down?

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“Speaking from the perspective of Auburn’s defensive front, things have been improving lately. Defense Coordinator Jeff Schmedding is using ‘new’ players more often – guys who haven’t played much before – and some of them play up front. Linebacker Owen Pappoe also plays on a lot higher level now that he is primarily used as an edge defender rather than a read-and-react linebacker.

“When you talk about slowing down Alabama’s running game, it really comes down to being able to occupy blockades at the point of attack. I’m not sure Auburn can do as well against a great front like Alabama’s, but second level tackling has been going much better lately. That gives the Tigers a chance.”

Quarterback Robby Ashford has the second most rushing yards on the team. How can Saturday’s game affect?

The Auburn quarterback is a good runner, though he’s best with the ball in his hands. He’s not necessarily a great guy with reading options. He’s also a bad passer who simply can’t be asked to carry an offense through the air himself. Ashford makes too many mistakes. The Tigers have revised passing expectations downward in recent weeks and things have smoothed out.

“If Auburn can get Ashford into space, he’s dangerous. The trick is getting him there; the Tigers haven’t yet figured out how to do that consistently without destroying other facets of the offense.”

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This is Tank Bigsby’s third iron bowl. Alabama has been able to limit him to 102 combined yards on 40 transfers from the past two encounters against him. How can he make more of an impact this year?

“He’s a great tailback, but the Tigers’ funky problems on offense under now-fired coordinator Eric Kiesau left Bigsby underused and undervalued. He looked pedestrian. Since Williams took over, Bigsby has been at the center of the attack. Auburn also ran more zone schedule stuff and things run smoother.

“Is that enough to significantly damage Alabama’s defense front? Yes, it is plausible. Bigsby is good, and this line is playing better than it has been in years.”

Who are some of the other playmakers on Auburn’s offense who have some play this weekend?

“Tailback Jarquez Hunter is a great, one-cut runner who would be a bigger star if he wasn’t playing behind Bigsby. Tight End John Samuel Shenker is a satisfying receiver who is also a slightly above average blocker. Freshman outdoor Camden Brown has real acrobatic ability, but he only averages 15 shots per game. He’s not playing enough to really make a difference, although I think he’s very talented.”

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How does Auburn include Bryce Young this year?

I think pass rushing is the most consistent way to upset quarterbacks in general, though Young’s breakaway capabilities make it very difficult for a defense. You can’t take big risks. So for me the key is applying outside pressure and playing things conservatively at defensive tackle and linebacker. Don’t lose sight of the integrity of the canyon. Auburn’s top-rated defensemen all play in secondary; those guys need to create a few sales. That is of course easy to say. Young is generally not amenable to turnover.

Auburn could get upset if…

“Auburn can’t let the spectacle of playing in Bryant-Denny — with the head coach’s situation still in flux — ruin his ceremony. Alabama is a great football team. The Tigers need to approach the issue methodically, stay tuned to personal responsibility and playing with the kind of passion that Williams shows on the sidelines Turnover is key Auburn needs at least two to have a chance on Saturday.

“On offense, it should run the ball effectively and not ask Ashford to make miracles happen through the air. That’s just not who he is, and he’ll make Auburn worse if he needs to.”

Is Lane Kiffin coming to Auburn?

I’m not going to answer that now. It’s moving.

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