The Tigers are once again competitive under interim football coach Carnell “Cadillac” Williams, but beating Alabama in Tuscaloosa is another matter entirely. This will be the most difficult challenge Williams has faced thus far in his brief tenure as an SEC coach.
Williams, who has been in the position for the previous three games after working as Auburn’s running backs coach, has invigorated a program that had been rather dead since Bryan Harsin’s departure.
Nick Saban, head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide, said of Williams, “He’s done a wonderful job with the energy, the enthusiasm, the way the guys are competing and playing, and the way they play to win.” “This was his character as a player. When I was the coach of the Miami Dolphins, Ronnie Brown and Cadillac both entered the draft at the same time, and we believed they were both formidable rivals. He was undoubtedly a formidable adversary. I believe his personality is reflected in his team’s competitive style.”
Mississippi State defeated Williams’ debut contest 39-33. The Tigers then defeated Texas A&M 13-10. With a 41-17 victory over Western Kentucky, Auburn earned its second victory during Williams’ tenure.
Alabama is nearly eliminated from College Football Playoff contention. There is still bowl positioning and honor to be played for. Auburn, meanwhile, is seeking bowl eligibility.
Here is our Auburn scouting report prior to No. 8 Alabama’s Saturday (2:30 p.m., CBS) matchup with Auburn (5-6, 2-5) at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
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A subpar passing game
Auburn’s passing offense lacks a great deal of bite.
The Tigers are bottom in the SEC in passing yards per game with 181.36. Robby Ashford ranks dead last among starting quarterbacks in the SEC in throwing touchdowns (6), completion percentage (49.34%), and quarterback rating (108.74).
“It begins with me,” Williams said the Monday following Auburn’s 60-yard passing performance against Texas A&M. “We must find a method to put those men in better positions. But we must also make those throws when they are available and capitalize on the looks collectively. We must improve, myself, Coach (Will) Friend, Coach (Ike) Hilliard, and Coach (Mike) Hartline.”
The Alabama secondary will likely not be heavily taxed in this game. The Crimson Tide should be able to handle Auburn’s offense if they can stop the run.
Tank Bigsby directs Auburn’s rushing assault.
Alabama’s defensive emphasis must be on containing Bigsby. However, easier said than done.
Despite Auburn’s seeming one-dimensionality, Bigsby has still achieved success. That Texas A&M game in which the Tigers threw for 60 yards? Bigsby gained 121 yards on 23 carries. So did Jarquez Hunter, albeit on fewer carries: 13.
Bigsby ranks fourth in the SEC in running yards (907), and is tied for third in rushing touchdowns (10). Hunter is tied for sixth in running touchdowns with seven.
Monday, Saban stated, “Tank is one of the top running backs in the SEC.”
Bigsby ran for 63 yards on 29 runs last season, with a long of 22 yards. Late in the game, he committed a significant error by stepping out of bounds, preserving an Alabama timeout. The Crimson Tide utilized this time to drive down the field and tie the game in the final two minutes, forcing overtime.
Derick Hall and Colby Wooden are two pass rushers to keep an eye on.
The two have been effective pass rushers for the Tigers this season, but the Crimson Tide is not surprised.
A year earlier, Hall and Wooden led the pass rush that resulted in seven sacks of quarterback Bryce Young. While Hall had three of these sacks, Wooden only had one.