Arkansas State Preview
Let’s just be honest. None of us are actually worried about Arkansas State, and I don’t mean that as a slight to the Indians that have morphed into Red Wolves. We just want to see what Cam can do, if they let Michael Dyer do what he can do, and if the defense is going to play like doo-doo. I can’t believe I just wrote that.
After the snoozefest that was A-Day, Auburn fans have been dying to see if Cam Newton, and all of his 6-6, 250 pound glory, will be able to lead Gus Malzahn’s offense to the next level. I love Chris Todd, but if he can get the numbers that he got last year in this offense, and if Cam is as good as he looks to be, we could be in for a very exciting season.
Cam should be a perfect fit for the style of play that Gus likes to call. The fact that he can run as well throw the ball deep, should keep defenses’ heads spinning all year long. To me, he looks like another Jamarcus Russell, minus the terrible off-the-field decisions and ‘purple drank‘.
I’m somewhat torn on the idea of Michael Dyer being put on the field, no matter what, in the first game of the season. We all know he has the potential to be one of the greatest backs in Auburn history, but how do we know that Mario Fannin and Onterrio McCalebb won’t be the best two-back combination since Cadillac and Ronnie? I’m not saying they will be, but we don’t know for sure.
My point is why burn Dyer’s red-shirt in a game that Auburn should win handily? Not to mention, Cam also counts as another running option. I just have a slight feeling we would be ok without Dyer this year. I could be wrong, I could be overly optimistic, but that’s just my feeling.
On the other hand, I want to see Dyer come in and run all over the place. If Fannin doesn’t produce as the every-down back, then throw him back to H-back, and let Dyer and McCalebb split the carries. Either way I’m fine, as long as one works. I totally trust the coaches to do what they do.
Obviously, the weakest link on last year’s squad was the defense. Multiple guys played every snap of almost every game. There just wasn’t enough depth, or I should say depth with skills, to give the starters a break. The guys who were out there were good enough to compete at an SEC level, but no defense should be expected to perform at such a high level for an entire SEC battle.
The return of Aairon Savage will help tremendously, even though he hasn’t touched the field in two years due to injury. Zac Etheridge is back after his season-ending injury last season, and his experience will play a huge part in Auburn returning to their defensive glory. The linebackers will have a few backups that will finally give the starters a chance to catch a breather, and the defensive line should be much stronger with the return of a healthy Zach Clayton. All-in-all, the defense had nowhere to go but up, but with a few new additions, and a few guys returning from injury, they should definitely hold down their side of the ball.
It wouldn’t be an Arkansas State Preview if I didn’t talk a little bit about the Red Wolves, who returns an offensive line laden with seniors that will definitely be the strongest unit on the team. Sophomore QB, Ryan Aplin, returns to the starting position, after taking over for a four-year starter halfway through last season. He was also 2nd on the team in rushing last year, and I completely did not steal that stat from JackTheRabbit’s preview.
The strengths for the Wolves are definitely the running game and run defense. Arkansas State runs a quick no-huddle offense, like Auburn’s, but will need to step up the passing game if they want the running game to succeed. The defensive front seven returns multiple starters from a unit that led the Sun Belt in stopping the run a year ago.
Their record wasn’t stellar last year (4-8), but the Red Wolves put a scare into #13 Iowa early in the season, losing 24-21. They also had close losses to Troy and Louisville.
No season-opening game is easy when you’ve got a relatively new quarterback, a new starting running back, and many uncertainties on defense, but Arkansas State’s talent level will be just low enough for Auburn to work out a few kinks, get the win, and get better for next week’s Thursday night game at Mississippi State.
Auburn 41, Arkansas State 10