We've played Auburn, but both teams are different than they were a few months ago, so here are a few relevant things to keep in mind as we prep to play the Tigers again.
3. Cam Newton Throwing the Ball
Last time we played Auburn, most people thought of Cam Newton as an elite zone-read rushing quarterback who could throw the ball well enough. Newton hadn't thrown much in the Tigers first few games and his TD-INT ration against MSU and Clemson was a mediocre 4-3. Since then, though, Newton has proved that he can throw the ball with the best of them. He's had several big games where he's done just as much damage through the air as on the ground, the most striking example being this past week against Alabama. Newton's abilities throwing the ball make Auburn's offense that much more impressive.
2. Carolina Secondary 2.0
After struggling for most of the season, Carolina's secondary has come on extremely strongly over the past three weeks. We've held both Florida and Clemson to under 200 yards, with most of the yardage coming in garbage time in both cases. The secondary has also been in on some pretty key turnovers in that stretch. That's not dominant--particularly considering the opponents--but it's pretty darn good. And let's not only credit the improvement to the quality of the opponents--we've benefited from some drops and the like, but our guys have generally seemed to be in better position and have a better nose for the ball in almost all cases. They're clearly playing better. Auburn will provide a much stiffer test than the Gators or Tigers, but I like our chances to reel in Auburn's passing game a bit.
1.Slowing Down the Run Game
Despite Newton's newly apparent track record throwing the ball, Carolina's goal should still be to force Auburn away from the run. Newton and Gus Malzahn would like nothing more than to wear Carolina out on the ground like they did last time we played them, which will allow them to dominate the second half. If we can force Auburn to the air, we'll probably give up some big plays here and there, but we'll hopefully keep our defense fresher and perhaps give our secondary a chance to make a big play.