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Scouting the Auburn Tigers: Defense and Special Teams

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Unfortunately, this is going to be a bit more abbreviated than usual due to time constraints. I apologize for any oversimplifications here.

Base Defense: Auburn's defensive coordinator is former Duke HC Ted Roof; Auburn HC Gene Chizik, of course, also plays a large role in working with the defense. Auburn typically runs out of a 4-3 and usually isn't a particularly aggressive defense, which I find somewhat surprising considering that you would think the Auburn coaches would try to keep them off the field in order to save them from the inevitable fatigue that comes from playing across from Gus Malzhahn's warp-speed offense. They seem to have adopted a more aggressive approach this year, though. They've increased their sacks and tackles-for-loss numbers from a year ago, although that's partially due to a revitalized defensive line and front-four rush.

Key Numbers: Auburn is 61st in total defense, 58th in scoring, 40th in rushing, and 45th in passing efficiency. Not too bad considering the opponents they've played so far, but hardly awe inspiring.

Defensive Line: Auburn's Nick Fairley has led the way for a revitalized Auburn defensive line. Fairley dominated against Mississippi St. two weeks ago and had another good game this week against Clemson. This isn't exactly the Auburn d-line of old, but it seems to be better than a year ago.

Continue reading after the jump.

Defensive Backs: Auburn has quite a bit of experience in the defensive backfield. So far, however, the team has had quite a bit of trouble with opposing passing games. They're giving up over 200 ypg, that despite having a line that helps them out by pressuing the QB. Clemson gave them problems with both downfield passing and with screen plays. One thing to note is that, as usual, our receivers are going to have a major size advantage against these guys.

Linebackers: Also a talented group, but had some hand in the problems Auburn had with the short-field passing game last week.

Special Teams: Auburn hasn't been anything too amazing in the return games. Their FG kicker Wes Byrum is very solid, though.

Analysis: Auburn has a talented, physical defense, as you saw from the Clemson game last week. I was unimpressed, though, by their level of discipline. There were some problems with blown assignments against the short passing game that I think Carolina can exploit; we seemed to like the WR screen to Ace Sanders last week, and I would expect we'll see more of it against Auburn. Auburn also wasn't great against the run, particularly when Clemson went to Andre Ellington. You have to like our chances to run the ball against them with Marcus Lattimore.