Hosting the Warhawks!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Hosting the Warhawks!

ULM Week

Auburn has won every time against these guys.|
(Photo by Acid Reign.)

     War Eagle, everybody. Another Auburn football Saturday is fast approaching. In the past, the second week of November meant that the UGA Bulldogs were on the slate. In recent years, thanks to the 12-game schedule, Auburn has been able to schedule a lesser opponent, the week before the Iron Bowl. This year’s sacrificial lamb is Louisiana Monroe, we hope. Sometimes, these cupcake teams can give Auburn a scare.

     In the past decade, Auburn needed a miracle fumble recovery to keep Appy State at bay in 1999. A week later, Idaho roared back from a 30-7 deficit, and Auburn was carefully covering an onside kick. In 2011, Auburn needed a touchdown, an onside kick recovery, and another touchdown to secure a 42-38 win over Utah State. In 2012, the Tigers needed an overtime field goal to knock off Louisiana Monroe. In 2015, Auburn nearly, and probably should have lost to Jacksonville State in an overtime matchup.

     This week, Louisiana Monroe should have little chance. However, we will have to see what Tiger team shows up. We were expected to smash Mercer into the next hemisphere on homecoming week back in September, but instead were having to survive 5 turnovers, and pull away late for a 24-10 win. Monroe has nothing to lose in this one, while Auburn can only damage itself, with a lackluster performance in front of the playoff committee.

     So, what kind of challenge will ULM be this week? Frankly, I expect the Auburn offense to roll, even if the staff goes into a shell. Auburn has never been held below 30 points by this team. Even the worst Auburn team since World War II in 2012 managed 31 points on these guys. Auburn will score, and we will get to see some fireworks out of young folks like Kam Martin, Devan Barrett, Malik Willis, and so on. What is kind of worrisome is the offensive output of Monroe.

     These guys may be 4-5 overall, and unlikely to make a bowl game thanks to a hurricane cancellation against Florida State, but they do move the ball on offense. Offensive coordinator Matt Kubic is the real deal, and has the Warhawk attack humming. In October, ULM topped the 50-point plateau 3 times, beating Appy State 52-45, UL Lafayette 56-50, and Coastal Carolina 51-43 during that month. Auburn will not be able to sleepwalk through this game, on defense.

     Offensively, well, Auburn must simply take care of business and keep quarterback Jarrett Stidham upright. ULM’s defense has been pretty woeful, this year. The lowest point total they have held anyone to, is 27 points, against Texas State. The worst Auburn offense since the Earl Brown era in the late 1940s managed 31 points against Monroe, in 2012.

     Auburn has two meaningful goals, this week. Get out of this game with a win that doesn’t hurt the team’s standing in the playoff race, and not get anyone further injured. Me, I’d like to see some serious work on kick and punt coverage. Auburn’s offense should be able to score at will, well into the bench. What we need to do is kick it directly to all-Sun-Belt return man Marcus Green. This guy has been pretty scary for opponents, this season. Green has 3 kick return touchdowns this season, and is averaging 31.4 yards per return. He also is averaging 8.6 yards per return on punts. Auburn needs to kick to this guy, and let the coverage team work to get better.

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