There seem to be so many story lines going into today’s game between Auburn and Arkansas State. Here are a few issues at the forefront of my mind:
- A stomach virus seems to have spread through the Red Wolves squad this week.
- How many QBs and exactly which ones will Gus play for the home team Tigers?
- Will the Red Wolves be able to snap the ball to the QB and have a rushing attempt in the first 15 plays?
With so many questions about the game, I turned to Walt Austin of collegeandmagnolia.com.
What is the current QB situation at Auburn after playing 3 last week?
Sean White is the starter and he'll play the majority of the snaps. I still expect to see John Franklin III on occasion and he may get as many as 20-30% of the game time depending on what Auburn wants to do in the run game, but Sean White will see the vast majority of time. Barring something drastic changing very soon, I suspect Jeremy Johnson will not see the field at all.
The ASU game falls between Clemson and Texas A&M, see any chance for an emotional letdown here?
I don't expect a letdown. I think this is a team that's motivated to prove the defense is back to the old Auburn defenses we always expected to see until recently, and I think the offense wants to prove that the Clemson game is not indicative of what they can do. I'm still hoping Gus opens the playbook and goes full 2007-08 Tulsa offense with Sean White at the helm. I think Gus and the offensive players are going to be motivated to show that the offensive woes against Clemson were the result of a bad plan.
Are there players who didn't get touches last week that Gus wants more involved?
Kamryn Pettway definitely falls into this category. Pettway is a high school running back who was converted to fullback and then back to running back. He's a big boy who runs angry. It baffles me that Auburn didn't give him the ball more against Clemson, but I think he'll get a number of carries this Saturday. I also suspect we may see a few more passes to the freshmen wide receivers Nate Craig-Myers and Kyle Davis.
Who is one player that ASU fans will know after the game?
#55, Carl Lawson. If you don't have strong offensive tackles, then he will live in your offensive backfield. The problem is, he's just one of 11 former 4* or 5* defensive linemen who will play. Auburn rotated 11 DL last Saturday night, and they'll keep up that rotation all season long. He's a bit more well known, though, so I'll also point out #3 Marlon Davidson. No one has been able to find the last time a true freshman started on the defensive line in Game 1 for Auburn, but Davidson early a start at defensive end opposite Lawson and played quite well. He's going to be a star very quickly.
How did the Clemson game affect the heat on Gus’s seat-up, down, or same?
I went into this season saying that Gus Malzahn's seat was nowhere near as hot as the media has portrayed it to be. He's in virtually no danger of being fired after this season unless there's a Chizikian collapse like 2012. Had the results of the game simply been a close loss, I don't think anything would have changed. Most Auburn fans went into that game thinking the Tigers had a chance to win, but that it would likely be a close loss (even though the rest of the nation felt differently).
The way the game played out, though, may have turned the heat up a slight bit. Auburn fans left that game shaking their head at one of the craziest offensive game plans we've ever seen, and the knowledge that even a decent plan likely could have meant a win for Auburn with the way the defense played lost Gus a lot of confidence from fans who were previously staunch supporters. The next few weeks are going to be critical to his future at Auburn. I still don't think the win/loss record matters as much as many think for this season, but he's got to show that he hasn't gone completely crazy when it comes to how to call a football game.