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College Football Preview: Florida Gators vs. Auburn Tigers

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A pivotal game on the Plains Saturday with two talented, but very young SEC teams trying to bounce back from disappointing losses last week. Auburn is 4-2 on the season, with losses on the road to a pair of top-ten teams in Clemson and Arkansas. Florida is 4-2 with consecutive losses coming at the hands of Alabama and LSU.  

Auburn Offense Keys to Victory

Quarterback Barrett Trotter was given a vote of confidence for another week and will start for the Tigers. Auburn has slowly worked freshman Kiehl Frazier into the game plan, primarily in the wildcat. Trotter is more a manager of the offense and it most cases won’t win or lose the game. Unfortunately for the Tigers, they need more than that. The Trotter led offense resembles the Chris Todd offense of 2009 before the arrival of Cam Newton.

The running game remains the key to the Auburn offense and it’s all running back Michael Dyer. Dyer has been a workhorse, especially the last two weeks. Onterio McCalebb continues to provide a change of pace on the jet sweeps and freshman Tre Mason provides a breather.

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Auburn’s offense stalled in the Arkansas game due to a lack of passing game. Junior Emory Blake missed the game due to injury and is the key to the Tigers aerial attack. With freshman Trovon Reed also out with injury, Blake’s status against the Gators may prove the determining factor in the game. If Blake cannot go, tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen will have to step up for yet another week.

The offensive line has been inconsistent, especially the play at guard. The senior tackles have been adequate and freshman center Reese Dismukes continues to be a bright spot.  

Auburn Defense Keys to Victory

After a horrendous first four weeks of the season, the Auburn defense really stepped up in the win at South Carolina. The game plan was to stop running back Marcus Lattimore and they accomplished the task for the third time in a year’s time. The defensive line continues to grow with four sophomore  starters. Defensive tackle Jeffrey Whitaker is the key to plugging the interior and the Tigers will need strong play from defensive ends Corey Lemonier and Nosa Equae. Auburn is very banged up at defensive end with only Craig Sanders a reliable backup for the Florida contest.

The Tigers will need junior Darren Bates to have a big game against Florida’s speed game. A converted safety, Auburn will rely on Bates to slow the Gators.  Auburn’s defensive backfield is extremely young and all the true freshman are getting play time. Senior Neiko Thorpe who has converted to safety and cornerback Tasharvan Bell will provide key leadership to help shutdown the Florida freshman quarterbacks.

Playing at home may prove the difference, I expect Auburn to win a tight one with the crowd proving to be a major factor.  

Tom Blaz is a contributor to College Football Zealots and co-owner of The Recruiting Eagle a website focusing on Auburn University Athletics.