Friday, October 13, 2006

Does Auburn Suck?

That was the title of a recent thread at our home base, Zook Free Zone. The member who started that thread appropriately enough goes by the name "instigator". What was instigator's rationale for asking the question? I'm glad you asked. According to him:

I think there is a good possibility that they do suck. Consider the following:

1) They got spanked at home by Arkansas.

2) Arkansas is not a good team. They got crushed by USC, beat Vandy by a mere 2 points and nearly lost to Alabama.

3) Against LSU, Auburn made only 13 first downs the whole game and gained a total of 182 yards.

It's a sad commentary on the polls that Auburn was ranked #2 when they are very likely to be a 4 loss team. I think this week's game is a dangerous one for us but, if we play well, it might just be a blowout.

Why? Because I think Auburn actually does suck.
My blog partner, Mergz, took a closer look at this weekend's match-up:
Both teams have played 6 games, so we now have so current statistical information for our comparison. Most importantly, both teams have played a common quality opponent (LSU), at home, so particular attention will be paid to that game.

First, let’s throw out the games against overmatched opponents both have played, and talk in generalities about the others. For AU we will ignore Washington State, Miss St, and Buffalo, and for UF we will ignore Southern Miss and UCF.

Comments on the other games:
Auburn v. South Carolina – this game was a sort of “canary in the coal mine game” for AU, which warned of trouble ahead. Spurrier’s offense threw for 240 on AU, and ran for 109. USC had more total yards than AU – 349-307, but came up just short.

Auburn v. Arkansas – an Arkansas blowout at AU. Ark rushed for 279 yards against the hapless AU defense.

Florida v. Tennessee – UF won by a single point, at Neyland, by holding the SEC’s best quarterback to his worst game of the year. UT, which is averaging 422 yards per game, was held to a mere 220 at home. Most significantly, UF shut down the UT running game to – 11 yards.

Florida v. Kentucky – Quick – who has the second most yards average passing in the SEC, and the most average all purpose running yards? The answer – Woodson of UK, and Burton of UK. UK, which is averaging 340 yards per game on offense, was held to 249 at Florida, and 7 points (21 points below their yearly average).

Florida v. Alabama – Florida holds a Bama team averaging 24 points per game to 13 at Florida.

While Alabama is a more marquee name, I would argue this year that Kentucky is the better team, and also the better win for Florida, between the 2.

Also, before we look at our common opponent LSU, let’s look at how AU and Kentucky each fared against Spurrier’s Cocks in their offense. Both games were 24-17, with AU beating USC, and USC beating UK.

AU had 307 total yards, of which 180 were passing, against USC.

UK had 351 total yards against USC, of which 289 were passing.

In other words, Kentucky was far more effective passing (and total offense) against South Carolina than Auburn was.

Now, the comparison of the common opponent between Florida and Auburn – LSU:
Everyone knows the scores – AU beat LSU 7-3, while UF beat LSU 23-10.

Let’s turn to the underlying stats -

LSU Total Yards: AU 311 – UF 318

About the same. In fact, LSU out-gained both teams in their games.

AU total yards against LSU: 182
UF total yards against LSU: 288

That’s where those points came from, 106 more total yards by Florida.

AU passing yards against LSU: 110
UF passing yards against LSU: 191

AU running yards against LSU: 72
UF running yards against LSU: 97

Note: LSU remains the total defense (yards) leader in the nation, giving up only 209 yards a game even after UF gained 288 on them.

A final set of stats – where each team ranks in SEC play vs. other SEC teams. These are useful as they both include the LSU game for UF and AU.

Passing Efficiency Offense
1. UT
2. UF
3. LSU
4. UK
5. AL
6. AU

Comment: UF has beaten the top 4 who are not UF already. AU is 6th.

Passing Offense
1. UF
2. UT
3. LSU
4. UK
5. AL
7. AU

Comment: UF number 1, a UF victory against the other top 4.

Rushing Offense
1. ARK
2. AU
3. UF
4. LSU
5 AL

Comment: AU’s strength. But UF is 3rd.

Total Offense
1. UF
2. LSU
3. UT
4. AL
5. AU

Comment: UF is number 1. UF has beaten 2, 3 and 4.

Scoring Offense
1. LSU
2. UF
3. AU
4. UT
5. UGA

Comment: UF at number 2, has beaten 1 and 4.

Passing Defense
1. LSU
2. USC
3. UGA
4. AU
5. AL
10. UF

Comment: UF’s weakness.

Running Defense
1. UF
2. LSU
3. AU
4. UGA
5. AL

Comment: UF’s strength against AU’s strength (running offense).

Total Defense
1. LSU
2. UF
3. UGA
4. AU
5. AL

Comment: UF number 2.

Conclusions: There is a whole lot of info here, but it is hard to see how this match up does not look very good for Florida. Florida’s weakness is passing defense – and passing offense is not Auburn’s strength. Despite this weakness, UF has beaten the other top 4 passing teams in the SEC. Auburn’s strength – the running game, is matched against UF’s greatest strength, our running defense.

Against a common quality opponent, on our home fields, Auburn managed 7 points, while UF scored 23 and 106 more yards total offense.

Auburn, defensively, has been recently exposed both by South Carolina and Arkansas. Arkansas, which averages 188 yards per game rushing in the SEC, ran for 279 against Auburn. (They ran for 170 and 172 against Vandy and Alabama, respectively).

UF should have a plethora of offensive choices against Auburn. Moreover, UF should be able to stop Auburn’s rushing game. And while UF’s passing defense is a concern, UF has already beaten 4 teams in UT, UK, AL and LSU that have better passing offenses.

Intangibles are turnovers, special teams and Jordan-Hare stadium, where until the Hogs came calling the Tigers had been very tough. On special teams, as everyone knows, UF has yet to make a FG. But they have tried only 4. Our punting game has been very solid, and our kick coverage good.

On paper, this should be a solid UF win.

But SEC games are rarely won on paper.
Yeah, what he said!

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