Comparison: Auburn versus Southern Miss and Louisiana Tech

Since we only have a week of football under our belts, the only thing we can do right now for comparison's sake is look at what teams did last year versus what they did this year. So with that in mind, let's take a look at Auburn versus Southern Miss last year and versus Louisiana Tech this year.

The observant among you might notice that Southern Miss was actually Auburn's second game of last year, not its first as LA Tech was. I chose USM because I think their team in 2008 is a better analogue for 2009's Louisiana Tech than Auburn's 2008 opening opponent, Louisiana-Monroe, is.

OFFENSE

Sack yardage has been taken out of the rushing totals to more accurately reflect actual rushing.

CATEGORY vs.SOUTHERN MISS
vs. LOUISIANA TECH
Total Yards 391
556
Passing 248
255
Yds. per Pass 7.3
9.4
Rushing 143
301
Yds. per Rush 3.7
5.8
Turnovers 4
2
Time of Poss. 30:20
28:37
Sacks All. 2 (-11 yards)
0

 

Tthe passing average is a bit higher, the turnovers were cut in half, the time of possession dipped a bit and... oh who am I kidding? Hallelujah! The running game is back in Auburn. After last year's offensive experiment exploded in the lab, the new offensive staff has brought back a rush-first mentality. Remember when people were saying that Gus Malzahn would be a repeat of pass-happy Tony Franklin? So not true. The pass-run ratio against USM was 36-39, while against LA Tech it was 27-52.

The passing game was more judicious against the Bulldogs, as it gained a few more yards on fewer attempts. Chris Todd's personal average jumped from 8.0 to 9.8 yards per pass. It's not a huge leap, but it is progress. Ben Tate's rushing average rose from 4.7 to 5.9 yards per carry, and freshman Onterio McCalebb was a revelation. It's probably a bit early to say everything is fixed on this side of the ball, but it is looking good.

DEFENSE

CATEGORY vs.SOUTHERN MISS
vs. LOUISIANA TECH
Total Yards 321
259
Passing 268
149
Yds. per Pass 5.4
4.5
Rushing 53
110
Yds. per Rush 2.2
3.2
Turnovers 3
2
Time of Poss. 29:40
31:23
Sacks For 3 (-16 yards)
3 (-14 yards)

 

This side of the ball is where the Southern Miss/Louisiana Tech analogy breaks down some. The Golden Eagles are more of a passing team, whereas the Bulldogs are more of a running team. However if you look at each's strength (USM's passing and LA Tech's rushing), you can see that Auburn's two foes were held down well below what would be an acceptable rate. If you look at each's weaker aspect, you see a deplorable 2.2 yards per rush for USM (and that's with sacks removed) and a dismal 4.5 yards per pass for LA Tech. The Auburn defense was good last year, and it appears to be good once again.

For right now, Auburn's win isn't totally a cut above last year's opening two wins as far as the scoreboard goes (34-0 over UL-M, 27-13 over USM, 37-14 over LA Tech). However, the way they got there was drastically different with an entirely different modus operandi. I'm not ready to call Auburn "back," but I am willing to concede that my preseason prediction of another 5-7 season might have been a bit short sighted.

Previous Comparison: Alabama, Arkansas.

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