Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Colleges

BCS title game: Auburn scouting report

Run game could be tough to stop

Led by senior Tre Mason — 1,621 yards and 22 touchdowns — Auburn leads Division I-A in rushing offense at 335.7 yards per game. That includes 545 yards (303 by Mason) against Missouri in the SEC title game. Mason (below), however, isn't the only threat. QB Nick Marshall has 1,162 yards and averages 6.6 per carry. The Tigers have the ability to beat their opponents with big rushing plays as they've recorded the second-most 10-plus yard rushes in I-A (140). "They're going to run the ball," said LSU LB D.J. Welter, whose team is the only one to beat Auburn this season. "You just have to kind of read and react and go out there and play your game."

Stop them on first and second down

Auburn knows how to move the ball. The Tigers average 505.3 yards of offense, 10th in Division I-A, and have converted 45.6 percent of their third downs and 53.3 percent of their fourth downs, including the "Prayer at Jordan-Hare" from Nick Marshall (far left) to Ricardo Louis against Georgia. Auburn, however, is tied for 112th among 123 I-A teams in 10-plus yard passing plays. "Once they get a couple of first downs, it's hard to stop that offense once they get rolling," LSU RB Jeremy Hill said. "I think (the key is) just getting off the field quick, putting them in second and longs, putting them in passing situations because once they're in third and 3s, third and 2s, that's basically when their offense is successful."

Defensive linemen bring the pressure

Five of Auburn's top six tacklers happen to be defensive backs, but it shouldn't be overlooked up front. DE Dee Ford (below, pressuring Alabama QB AJ McCarron), has team highs in sacks (8½) and quarterback hurries (17). He and the Auburn linemen, Georgia QB Aaron Murray said, know how to bring the pressure. "The biggest thing is they're able to get pressure with just four guys," Murray said. "They don't have to blitz or bring extra linebackers or safeties or anything like that. They can play coverage and get pressure with the front-four guys, which is pretty big."

Kelly Parsons, Times staff writer

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