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Friday, October 1, 2010

Who has the edge: Auburn or Louisiana-Monroe?

It's Friday. And I know you're waiting on the edge of your seat to see who has the edge in Auburn's game against Louisiana-Monroe, so here it is. No surprises in any of these categories, so we'll keep this brief.

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Louisiana-Monroe at No. 10 Auburn
  • Where: Jordan-Hare Stadium
  • When: Saturday, noon ET
  • Records: Louisiana-Monroe 1-2, 0-1 Sun Belt; Auburn 4-0, 2-0 SEC
ULM passing game vs. Auburn secondary
Redshirt freshman Kolton Browning won the starting quarterback job in the offseason and has done decent, throwing for 590 yards and five touchdowns (although he has four picks). He spreads it around. Three ULM players have 10 catches (Luther Ambrose, Anthony McCall and Brent Leonard). Auburn's secondary got gouged by South Carolina for most of last week's game but came up big with an interception at the end of the game. Browning only threw for 74 yards against Arkanas. The Tigers should have similar success. Edge: Auburn.
ULM running backs vs. Auburn linebackers
Browning leads the team in rushing too, with 183 yards. That doesn't say much for the running backs. Frank Goodin, who ran for 1,126 yards and 13 touchdowns last year, has only 101 yards and a 2.7-yard average. Auburn needs to get sharper with its tackling, especially Daren Bates on the strong-side. But Josh Bynes (29) tackles has been a beast and Craig Stevens looks like he's shaken of the rust. Auburn might even be able to get Bynes some plays off Saturday. Edge: Auburn.
ULM offensive line vs. Auburn defensive line
Although ULM is 91st nationally in rushing offense, it has only allowed five sacks this year. The group starts a pair of underclassmen. That's not good going up against an Auburn line that's thrived this year. Nick Fairley leads the SEC in tackles for loss (8) and sacks (4). As a team the Tigers are 22nd nationally in sacks (2.8 per game) and tied for 27th nationally in rushing defense (106.5 ypg). Edge: Auburn.
Auburn passing game vs. ULM secondary
Auburn's wide receivers must be licking their chops. ULM is 114th nationally in pass defense, giving up 284 yards a game. Of course, the Warhawks have played Ryan Mallett and Arkansas (400 yards) and Ryan Aplin of Arkansas State (243). Auburn knows how difficult it can be to prevent both of those QBs from putting up big yards. Quarterback Cam Newton looked much more comfortable throwing the ball last week, finishing 16-for-21 for 158 yards. Look for him to put up a similar completion percentage today and for a number of receivers to get in on the action. Edge: Auburn.
Auburn running backs vs. ULM linebackers
Expect Mike Dyer to get a bunch of carries. Coaches have officially anointed him the starting tailback on the depth chart, and they'll want to get him as many snaps in the game as they can to get him experienced for SEC play. Mario Fannin's shoulder is supposedly better. One can assume Auburn wants to get him some confidence back by getting him some carries. Oh, Auburn's first in the SEC and seventh nationally in rushing, averaging 278.0 yards per game. Linebackers Jason Edwards and Cameron Blakes lead ULM in tackles, with 29 and 24 respectively. Edge: Auburn.
Auburn offensive line vs. ULM defensive line
The Tigers' starting five answered head coach Gene Chizik's challenge last week, overwhelming South Carolina's supposedly stout defensive front. They've been challenged to do it again this week. It shouldn't be a problem. ULM uses a three-man front. Senior end Ken Dorsey leads the linemen with 12 tackles, 2.5 TFLs and two sacks. ULM has held 11 of its last 14 opponents to under their season average in rushing. That could be a tall task Saturday. Edge: Auburn.
ULM return units vs. Auburn coverage teams
The Warhawks have been extremely average on kickoffs (20.8 yards per return) and non-existent on punt returns (5 returns, 2.4-yard average), ranking 118th nationally. Although Auburn hasn't done a great job of punting the ball, its cover teams have been outstanding. Craig Sanders and Demetruce McNeal have five solo special teams tackles apiece. McNeal had four by himself against South Carolina. Edge: Auburn.
Auburn return units vs. ULM coverage teams
The Tigers have been solid in the kick return game, averaging 24.0 yards. Even though they haven't broken one free yet, Demond Washington has come close on a number of occasions. Since that muffed punt against Mississippi State, Quindarius Carr has been pedestrian on punt returns, not getting much yardage even when an opportunity appears to be there. ULM has allowed six punts to be returned. Opponents are averaging 15.6 yards on those returns. Edge: Auburn.
Wes Byrum uncharacteristically missed a pair of field goals against South Carolina, one from 52 yards (acceptable) one from 23 (unacceptable). Special teams coordinator Jay Boulware said Byrum has been "battling some things" but declined to give specifics. Byrum has missed three of his last field goal attempts. But at least he's made one this year. ULM's Radi Jabour missed his only attempt from 30 yard. Edge: Auburn.
Chizik seems to do a good job of getting the team fired up to play at home. Auburn is 9-2 under his watch at Jordan-Hare Stadium. ULM's Todd Berry is in his first year with the Warhawks, although he was previously at Illinois State (24-24 from 1996-1999) and Army (5-36 from 2000-03). Edge: Auburn.
There is always a chance of a letdown, but I don't see it happening. Auburn hasn't been good enough in its last couple wins to get too content with itself. Getting down by 17 and 13 points in the first half will do that to you. Yes, ULM was only down 7-0 through two and a half quarters against Arkansas in the opener, an eventual 31-7 loss, but the Razorbacks still dominated that game, out-gaining ULM 499-188. Expect something similar against Auburn. Prediction: Auburn 48, Louisiana-Monroe 17.


easyedwin said...

That's an EDGE wipeout!!

CHB said...

Good stuff Andy, bad opponent but good stuff.