The Texas A&M Aggies are gearing up to face off against the Auburn Tigers in a crucial showdown at Kyle Field this weekend. Both teams aim to bounce back from disappointing seasons, having recently made changes in their coaching staff. As the Tigers boast a 3-0 record, securing wins against UMass, Cal, and Samford, the Aggies stand at 2-1 with victories over New Mexico and ULM but a loss to Miami.
Clash at an Unusual Time
This matchup arrives earlier in the season than usual. Typically a late October or early November meeting, it’s worth noting that in 2019, Texas A&M football opened conference play against Auburn on September 21, setting a precedent.
In recent years, the road teams have remarkably dominated this series. Since 2018, the pattern has shifted with Auburn clinching wins in ’18 and ’19, the Aggies prevailing in ’20 and ’21, and the Tigers narrowly escaping with a home victory last year, winning 13-10.
Texas A&M Defense vs. Auburn Ground Game
This year, the Auburn offense has undergone a significant transformation under new leadership. Transitioning from a pro-style, west-coast approach to an up-tempo spread system, the Tigers have welcomed quarterback Payton Thorne from Michigan State and wide receiver Shane Hooks from Jackson State, among other transfers.
While running back Jarquez Hunter‘s return adds depth to the Tigers’ position group, they’ve spread carries among several players with good success. Notably, the Tigers excel in rushing success rate, boasting an impressive 60%. However, they lack explosiveness, relying on consistent gains rather than big plays. Texas A&M’s robust rush defense, allowing an average of just two-and-a-half yards per carry, ranks 10th in the nation, suggesting their ability to potentially control Auburn’s ground game effectively.
Texas A&M Defense vs. Auburn Passing Attack
Expect Auburn to challenge Texas A&M through the air, particularly after studying the Aggies’ performance against Miami. Key targets include the tall senior Shane Hooks and emerging talent Jay Fair. The Tigers’ offensive coordinator, Phil Montgomery, has a background similar to the scheme that troubled Texas A&M in a previous game. Texas A&M’s pass defense allows an average of 180.3 passing yards per game, ranked 14th nationally. Confusing Auburn’s Thorne will be crucial for the Aggies.
Texas A&M Ground Game vs. Auburn Defense
The Aggies boast a strong defense on third downs, allowing only about a 21% conversion rate. Forcing Auburn into obvious passing situations could play into Texas A&M’s hands. Even in short-yardage situations, the Aggies’ talented front line should provide an edge.
While the Aggies have faced ground game challenges, they’ve exceeded opponents’ average yards per carry. Despite Auburn’s solid defensive performance, they allowed over 5 yards per carry against UMass. The Aggies average 4.9 yards per carry on the ground. The outlook may be promising for the Aggie ground game. Texas A&M’s rushing success rate stands at 47%, indicating consistency despite a lack of explosive runs.
Texas A&M Passing Attack vs. Auburn Secondary
The Aggies hold a significant advantage in the passing game. Quarterback Conner Weigman, considered one of the conference’s top talents, faces an Auburn secondary missing its leader, Keionte Scott. Auburn’s pass defense stats may be deceiving, as they haven’t encountered a receiving corps as potent as Texas A&M’s. The Aggies’ passing attack averages 303.3 yards per game. If key receivers like Evan Stewart and Noah Thomas play as well as they have been, Weigman should be able to exploit Auburn’s secondary.
Key Factors to Watch
1. Offensive Evolution: Auburn’s transition from a pro-style offense to an up-tempo spread system is a significant shift. New additions like QB Payton Thorne and WR Shane Hooks have breathed life into this revamped offense, making it more unpredictable.
2. Ground Game Dynamics: The Tigers have demonstrated impressive rushing success rates, but they lack explosive plays. Can Texas A&M’s stout rush defense control Auburn’s ground attack?
3. Defensive Strategy: Texas A&M’s defensive approach, especially on third downs, will be pivotal. Their ability to disrupt Auburn’s passing game and exploit short-yardage situations could be game-changing.
4. Aggie Passing Prowess: With a talented receiving corps and quarterback, Texas A&M’s passing attack presents a formidable challenge for Auburn’s secondary, especially with the absence of Keionte Scott.
5. Auburn’s Upcoming Challenges: Auburn faces a demanding stretch of games following this matchup, potentially impacting their focus and preparation. How will this factor affect their performance at Kyle Field?
The Texas A&M vs. Auburn clash promises to be an intriguing battle. As both teams strive to re-establish themselves as contenders in the SEC, this early-season encounter could set the tone for their respective campaigns. Watch for key matchups in the ground game, third-down situations, and the Aggies’ potent passing attack as they aim for victory at Kyle Field.
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