The Auburn Tigers will get a bye this week before heading to College Station, Texas to take on Texas A&M. During the bye week, the No. 19 Tigers will need to improve on some things before going into the toughest stretch of games this season.
Auburn has added the deep ball to its arsenal on the offensive end, but one thing missing in the passing game is the lack of intermediate passes. Jarrett Stidham has shown that he can accurately throw the ball to his receivers with a SEC leading 65.8 completion percentage and a 151.6 passing efficiency rating.
When Auburn’s running game is stalled, they still rely on the all-or-nothing deep ball as their main source of passing. In close games this year that has hurt Auburn tremendously.
If Auburn needs to stage a final drive to win the game, it will be unlikely without a successful intermediate passing game.
The lack of explosiveness in the returning game has been an issue all season for the Tigers. Stephen Roberts has only 92 yards on 12 returns all season. Roberts has not eclipsed 25 yards returning in a game this year and, if Auburn wants success down the stretch, they need to be more explosive in the return game.
The Tigers have let a kick or punt get returned for a touchdown in two straight weeks now. A kick or punt return touchdown is something that turns the momentum completely over.
That was not the case against Arkansas because the game was out of reach at that point, but against LSU, D.J. Chark’s punt return touchdown turned the game completely around and is a big reason LSU was able to come back and win.
Against Texas A&M, Georgia or Alabama, a special teams touchdown could be what either team needs to win.
The Tigers limped into the bye week with a heap of of injuries. Auburn has three offensive linemen hurt right now in Casey Dunn, Mike Horton and Darius James, but the trio is hopeful against A&M.
The Tiger defense is also banged up with starting linebacker Tre’ Williams playing through a nagging shoulder injury and defensive linemen Marlon Davidson and Derrick Brown playing against Arkansas after going to the medical tent against LSU.
Starting safety Tray Mathews sat out against the Razorbacks to nurse a hamstring and is uncertain against Texas A&M.