coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
On 11/03/2013 09:49 AM in NCAA Football

Auburn Tigers at Tennessee Volunteers: Preview and Pick

Auburn Tigers at Tennessee Volunteers: Preview and Pick

The Auburn Tigers are quietly making a case that they should be considered one of the best teams in the country. After a blowout win over the Arkansas Razorbacks, the Tigers are getting geared up for a big game against the Alabama Crimson Tide at the end of the season in the iron Bowl. Before that game they have to make sure that they avoid any letdown, especially this week against the Tennessee Volunteers.

Auburn Tigers at Tennessee Volunteers Odds

The college football odds for this game will favor Auburn, but the Volunteers are a different team at home. It is yet to be seen if the public trusts in Auburn and is willing to back them in the second game in a row on the college football highway. Make sure to check your top rated sportsbook for the latest point spread leading up to kickoff.

The Tigers beat the Hogs by running the ball. Tre Mason made sure Auburn handled its business for its first-year coach on Saturday, rushing for four touchdowns as the Tigers won their fifth straight, another shining moment in what's been a remarkable turnaround season following last year's 3-9 disaster.

For Gus Malzahn, it was a signature moment in a career born and largely bred as a high school coach in Arkansas. It came in front of a large group of friends and family, and it came at the expense of the school the Fort Smith, Ark., native once briefly suited up for as a walk-on and later served as its offensive coordinator. Mason's third touchdown put Auburn up 28-3 to open the second half, helping secure Malzahn's first win in four tries at Arkansas. Now the Tigers will have to focus on the game at hand against the Vols and not look past this big game!

The latest college football betting trends reveal some interesting wagering angles for this SEC tilt. Auburn is 4-0-1 straight up in its last 5 games but just 1-8-1 straight up in its last 10 games on the road. Auburn is 5-0 straight up in its last 5 games when playing Tennessee and will look to keep that winning streak alive. Tennessee is 2-4-1 straight up in its last 7 games and 4-8 against the spread (ATS) in its last 12 games at home, although they are 5-1 straight up in its last 6 games at home.

Auburn Tigers at Tennessee Volunteers Pick

With plenty of time before kickoff we will wait for more information to come in before we select a side on this contest. Make sure to check back on the day of the game to see who we select as our winner for this big game.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
11/04/2013 04:10 PM

Butch Jones was disappointed. But he's still encouraged about the future of the Tennessee football program.

At his weekly press conference on Monday, Jones addressed a tough 31-3 loss to Missouri on Saturday.

"That kind of effort will not be tolerated at Tennessee," he said. He acknowledged the problems the team had on Saturday. They had great field position, but could never do anything with it. Too many turnovers. Simple mistakes that led to scores for their opponent.

He reiterated his formula for this team to win. They've got to overachieve to win. They will not always be the better athletes on the field, but they must be disciplined. They can't get penalties. "We've been pretty good on that this season. That wasn't us on Saturday night."

Jones said they were all disappointed in the effort, from the players to the coaches.

But he said they are now dealing with the realities of building a football program. There are natural adversities to deal with over the course of the season, like injuries. UT is on it's third quarterback this season. The schedule is grueling. There is a lack of depth on the team, and a lot of true freshmen on the field.

He said freshman quarterback Joshua Dobbs made some mistakes Saturday, but they are things he will learn from him. He got some good experience in that game.

'You grow up, and you learn from it," said Jones of Dobbs.

So what about the next opponent?

Auburn, another top 10 ranked opponent, comes to Neyland Stadium for Saturday's Homecoming game. Jones says they are talented, dynamic, very physical, a great quarterback. They will be a challenge.

But Jones said there is great character in the UT football program. They are disappointed, and they should be, because they didn't play well. But now they are ready to come back, learn from their mistakes, and work hard this week.

"Pride and heart matter," Jones said. "We're playing for a lot right now."

Jones said they expect to win every football game, and that's how they are approaching this week.

"Is it a grind? Yes, it's a grind, both physically and mentally. It's tough to get up every week to play the best of the best. That's not an excuse. That's the SEC," said Jones.

They're working hard for the future, but yes, now is important, too.

"I want it now. Players wants it now. Former players, our VFL's (Vols for Life), want it now, our fan base our administration, we all want it now. I see positives every day. People in the industry see it. I see improvement every day. Sometimes you don't see it in the win column," said Jones.

He said the goal for the team is to keep their head down, keep making great strides, eliminate the clutter and keep getting better.

"I am encouraged as I've ever been. I see growth, maturation, we're attracting great players. Do we have a lot of work to do? You guys see what I see. But i'm encouraged where we're going," said Jones.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
11/04/2013 04:16 PM

Nick Marshall heard Gus Malzahn's message loud and clear last week.

Toughness might be one of Marshall's best assets at quarterback, but there's no need for him to go looking for opportunities to showcase that particular quality.

Auburn needs Marshall healthy for the stretch run.

"Oh yeah, he made it clear," Marshall said. " I don't need to be getting hurt like this coming toward the end of the season, so he told me to be smart with my decision-making and get out of bounds from here on out."

Marshall fought off a deep bruise to his throwing shoulder last week and came back to turn in an efficient performance with 118 passing yards, 59 rushing yards and a couple of big plays to supplement Tre Mason's dominant performance in Auburn's win over Arkansas.

"He made runs when he needed to. We didn’t turn the ball over," offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee said. "Not getting any reps Tuesday, Wednesday and limited on Thursday, to go out and play the way he did and lead the guys, I thought that was a good job."

Auburn only asked Marshall to attempt eight throws against the Razorbacks, in part because Arkansas kept the offense off the field. The Tigers ran only 55 plays, the fewest of the season.

But Marshall was confident that his shoulder was strong enough to start, and he proved it with an 88-yard touchdown pass to Sammie Coates to break the game open.

"If it came down to it, and I had to throw it, I knew I'd be able to make those throws," Marshall said.

Now, Auburn needs Marshall to avoid the kind of hits that limited his shoulder in the first place. Early in the season, Marshall did a good job of getting to the sideline and stepping out of bounds when he had a chance, but he injured the shoulder in a show of misplaced strength against Florida Atlantic.

"It was all just caught up in the moment," Marshall said. "My adrenaline was pumping, and I just ran into him, ran into him awkward, and it just bruised it."

Marshall has no problem. On a few plays, Marshall has even tried to turn into a lead blocker for the Tigers on the perimeter, but Malzahn used the shoulder injury as a teaching point.

Marshall has to avoid getting caught up in the moment in the future. Auburn spent much of its week of preparation for Arkansas trying to plan for the possibility that the quarterback couldn't go, and the Tigers need a healthy Marshall to open up the entire playbook.

Without a healthy starter, Auburn's game plan changes, Malzahn admitted on Saturday night, and Marshall has missed one game against Western Carolina and most of another due to knee and shoulder injuries this season.

"There’s something to be said (about not knowing) your quarterback is going to play," Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn said. "There was a lot of stress that went into that."

A key component of Auburn's running game, Marshall has rushed for 520 yards this season, ranking him ninth among quarterbacks nationally and second on the team behind Mason.

Marshall carried the ball nine times on Saturday, taking two sacks and a couple of hits to the right side of his body.

After every one, Marshall popped up almost as soon as the whistle blew, looking to the sideline for the next play to keep Auburn's pace at a high tempo.

Popping right back up was also a sign of toughness. Marshall wanted to let his teammates -- and opponents -- know his bouts with injury limit his ability to lead Auburn's offense.

As much as Marshall carries the ball, he's going to take some hits, even if the 6-1, 210-pounder is smarter about avoiding the collision when the opportunity presents itself.

His task is to try to limit that pounding.

"You've just got to be really aggressive, because that's the kind of team we are. We don't show any weakness," Marshall said. "So I just put that behind me, not worry about it too much, and be smart from here on out."

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
11/05/2013 01:10 PM

When the field is at its shortest, that’s when the Auburn defense has been playing at its highest level.

The Tigers have made critical stops inside the red zone time and again this season. Auburn’s defense ranks 12th in the country inside its 20-yard line, allowing a score just 70 percent of the time (21-of-30), second only to Alabama (69.2 percent) in the SEC.

Despite being on the field for 21:43 of the first half of Saturday’s 35-17 win at Arkansas, the Auburn defense allowed just three points in the red zone thanks to an interception and a goal-line stand.

“We’ve been in some situations where we get long drives and end up stepping up and making a play,” Auburn defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson said. “When their backs are against the wall, they’ve played with a lot of poise and toughness.”

The Razorbacks opened the game with a 61-yard, 13-play drive that took 6:21 off the clock before defensive end Dee Ford tipped an AJ Derby pass into the air and weak-side linebacker Cassanova McKinzy came away with his first career interception.

“Once we’re in the red zone, we try not to let you get in our end zone,” McKinzy said. “It’s like a personal issue. Our key is to get our offense back the ball, because we know our offense is going to score at all times.”

Arkansas put another long drive together late in the first quarter, but once the Razorbacks got inside the red zone early in the second, they stalled and were held to a field goal. Auburn expanded its lead to 14-3 less than two minutes later.

Then the Razorbacks had yet another time-consuming drive of 8:13, covering 73 yards on 17 plays, but Arkansas came away with nothing thanks to little-used linebacker JaViere Mitchell, a redshirt-freshman. Mitchell made third- and fourth-down stops at the 1-yard line to preserve Auburn’s 14-3 lead at the break.

“You go in at halftime and it’s an 11-point game, realizing you stalled out twice in the red zone,” Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema said. “You just can’t have that.”
The Auburn defense was on the field longer in the first half against Arkansas than in any other game this season, but Johnson wasn’t even aware of the disparity in time of possession until he came back to the press box after halftime and saw the stat sheet.

“We were outscoring them and we were keeping them off the board, so you really don’t notice it,” Johnson said. “Frankly, from a conditioning standpoint, it hasn’t bothered us at all. So far, it has not been an issue. As long as you’re scoring points, it doesn’t matter.”

Arkansas did manage back-to-back touchdowns to make the score 28-17 early in the fourth quarter, though one drive started inside Auburn’s red zone thanks to an 87-yard kickoff return.

Auburn (8-1, 4-1 SEC) focuses on the red zone for about 20 minutes during Tuesday practices, Johnson said.

“I think what that does is it gives the player a little more feeling of confidence that when they’re in that situation, they can handle it,” he said. “That (red) zone, you don’t want to be there very often, but that can be an advantage to you when you limit that field and players learn how to use that to their advantage.”

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
11/06/2013 03:15 PM

The seventh-ranked Auburn Tigers will attempt to win their sixth straight game on Saturday afternoon, as they visit the Tennessee Volunteers in an SEC showdown.

Although Auburn began the season off the national radar, it has been able to exceed even the most ambitious expectations in Gus Malzahn's first season as head coach, as it sits at 8-1 overall and 4-1 in the SEC, while rising all the way to No. 7 in the latest AP poll. The Tigers recently defeated Arkansas on the road, 35-17, and with a strong finish they could be in position for an at- large bid to a BCS bowl game.

"We just feel very blessed to be 8-1," Malzahn said. "Just proud of this team. They've come a long way and just need to keep improving."

Tennessee is also in year one of a new regime, but Butch Jones' inaugural campaign has been an up-and-down one. With a 31-3 loss to Missouri last week, the Vols dipped to 4-5 overall and 1-4 in conference, with all five of their losses coming against Top-25 teams. Fortunately for UT, it has played well at Neyland Stadium this season, winning four of five bouts.

"What separates teams, what separates people is the willingness to do the things that nobody else wants to do," Jones said. "We're going through the realities of building a good program, teaching the expectations. That's not going to be a crutch. We expect to have competitive people that want to win week in and week out."

Auburn leads the all-time series with Tennessee, 27-21-3, although the teams haven't faced each other since 2009 when the Tigers won in Knoxville, 26-22.

Auburn's offense has been one of the SEC's most efficient (36.8 ppg, 494.9 ypg), thanks largely to its outstanding rushing attack, which ranks sixth in nation in amassing 306.2 ypg.

There's plenty of touches to go around in the backfield, but Tre Mason handles most of the load with 161 carries for 921 yards and an league-leading 13 touchdowns. Mason was named the SEC Player of the Week following his 168-yard, four-touchdown performance versus Arkansas.

"What can I say? The guy gets stronger as the game goes on," offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee said. "He gets stronger as the season goes on."

Cameron Artis-Payne (515 yards, five TDs) and Corey Grant (456 yards, four TDs) also see their share of action, with the latter averaging nearly 10 yards per carry.

Nick Marshall has battled through some injuries this season, but has run the offense to near perfection when healthy. He is completing nearly 60 percent of his passes for 1,266 yards with seven touchdowns and four interceptions, while doing damage with his legs as well (520 yards, five TDs). Jeremy Johnson (28- of-40, 408 yards, six TDs, two INTs) has performed in limited snaps, showing he can be called upon in a pinch.

Sammie Coates (24 catches, 638 yards, five TDs) is a big play waiting to happen out wide, as his average of 26.6 yards per catch is tops in the nation.

Defensively, Auburn ranks just 10th in the SEC in yards allowed per game (398.9), but its bend-don't-break style has kept opposing teams out of the end zone, as it ranks third in scoring defense (20.1 ppg). Foes score touchdowns on just 43 percent of their trips to the red zone (13-of-30).

Chris Davis leads the team with 43 tackles, while Robenson Therezie (40 tackles, three INTs) anchors the secondary. The unit could be without pass- rush specialist Dee Ford (9.5 TFL, 7.0 sacks), who is listed as questionable for this clash as he nurses a knee injury.

As for Tennessee, its offense has struggled to get off the ground in Jones' first season, ranking 10th in the league in both scoring (25.1 ppg) and yardage (359.1 ypg), and with a freshman quarterback starting last week, things were even worse as the team scored just three points and committed three turnovers.

Filling in for Justin Worley, who could miss the rest of the season with a thumb injury, Joshua Dobbs made his first career start against Missouri, going 26-of-42 for 240 yards with zero touchdowns and two picks. Despite the lackluster performance, Jones still took some positives away from the showing.

"He had some good experiences and some experiences we need to correct that he doesn't need to have twice," Jones said. "The experiences that he gained should continue to move him forward."

Raijon Neal tallied just eight yards on eight carries last week, but he is still in the midst of a strong season with 771 yards and nine touchdowns. Marlin Lane (397 yards, four TDs) has also been an effective runner for the Vols.

Alton "Pig" Howard (36 receptions, 344 yards, three TDs) and Marquez North (32 receptions, 436 yards, TD) headline a modest receiving corps.

The Tennessee defense has shown some big-play tendencies, forcing 18 turnovers, but the unit is still below average in the SEC in yielding 29.4 ppg and 429.3 ypg.

A.J. Johnson's 76 tackles are the most on the team, while Brian Randolph has racked up 53 tackles and three interceptions. Cameron Sutton and Brent Brewer have two picks apiece, and Marlon Walls has 4.5 of the team's 12 sacks.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
11/06/2013 03:17 PM

An experienced, talented offensive line was supposed to be the strength of the Tennessee football team this season, and indeed, an eventual honey hole for future NFL draft picks. And while NFL futures surely still await several of the Volunteers' offensive front, the group hit a bottom of sorts on Monday: Ridicule from its own coach.

UT coach Butch Jones was overheard at practice nicknaming the group "Club 90" Tuesday, referencing Tennessee being held to just 94 rushing yards in a blowout loss to Missouri Saturday. Guard Zach Fulton, the 79th-ranked senior NFL prospect in college football by NFL Media senior analyst Gil Brandt, was labeled by Jones as "the softest of the soft." The group was flagged for six false starts against Missouri, as well.

Left tackle Antonio Richardson is considered the top NFL prospect on the line, followed by right tackle Ja'Wuan James, center James Stone, and Fulton. The Vols face Auburn this weekend, and of course, Tigers coach Gus Malzahn had nothing but positives to say about the opposing offensive line.

"That is one of the better offensive lines that we've played," Malzahn said, according to "They're a veteran group. They're big, they're physical, and I think they're very talented."

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
11/07/2013 01:53 PM

Auburn has plowed its way into SEC, and maybe national title, contention with a running game that has lately been making the forward pass more luxury than necessity.

The run-heavy formula is working well so far for the seventh-ranked Tigers, who face the conference's worst run defense statistically Saturday when they visit Tennessee.

Auburn (8-1, 4-1) attempted nine passes at Arkansas last Saturday and still won 35-17.

"We just feel like we're a big freight train and once we get started, it's hard to stop us," tailback Tre Mason said.

Mason and speedy quarterback Nick Marshall have helped the Tigers continue barreling down the tracks with a running game that leads the league and ranks sixth nationally, averaging 306.2 yards.

Auburn's offense didn't slow down much against the Razorbacks when Marshall was nursing a shoulder injury that limited him in practice leading up to the game, helping contribute to the minimal passing.

Now, the Tigers face Tennessee, which allowed 339 rushing yards in a 31-3 loss at then-No. 10 Missouri last Saturday and gives up an average of 201.7 yards on the ground. That apparent matchup advantage doesn't require much change in philosophy.

"We're going to run the ball," center Reese Dismukes said. "I don't think that's really going to change week in and week out. We've got the mind-set that we're going to run the football and that's the goal here. We're going to run the football."

They're also going to run it with a number of different players, as Auburn has four of the SEC's top 18 rushers, including Marshall.

Mason has emerged as the star of the deep backfield, and was the workhorse against the Razorbacks when he ran 32 times among Auburn's 55 plays. He produced 168 yards and four touchdowns to earn SEC offensive player of the week honors.

The runs have typically been more divvied up among Mason, between-the-tackles rusher Cameron Artis-Payne and speedster Corey Grant, along with Marshall. Mason, though, is the SEC's No. 3 rusher with 921 yards and a league-best 13 touchdowns.

"He wanted the ball the other night," coach Gus Malzahn said. "You could tell he was really explosive, he was breaking tackles. He's a veteran guy and was wanting the football and we just kept giving it to him.

"Moving forward, we'll spread the ball around. We've got two other very talented running backs, but he was hot, and that's what we go with."

That backfield depth has enabled the Tigers to log easily the most rushes of any SEC team and attempt the fewest passes. Marshall and receiver Sammie Coates have combined for big plays, including an 88-yard touchdown against Arkansas, but the running game has been far more consistent, especially lately.

Auburn has averaged 17 passes and 55 runs the past three games, and Mason has received plenty of help. Marshall has rushed for 520 yards, Artis-Payne 515 and Grant 456. All of them are averaging at least 5.7 yards per carry with four or more touchdowns.

"They have a mentality to run the football," Tennessee coach Butch Jones said. "The thing about Auburn is they can beat you with quick screens, they can beat you with deep balls, and they can beat you with quarterback runs. If they decide to line up and run power offense at you, they can beat you.

"They're a good physical football team."

Tennessee (4-5, 1-4) has its work cut out again Saturday, facing a ranked opponent for the fifth straight game and seventh time this season. The Volunteers are 1-5 in those matchups, getting outscored 221-98.

"I'm disappointed but I'm not discouraged," Jones said. "Nobody said it's going to be easy. ... I said at the beginning of the season that we needed to be a blue-collar team. Our margin of error is very small, we need to overachieve in any and all areas to have a chance."

Auburn extended its win streak in this series to five with a 26-22 road victory in the last matchup in 2009.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
11/08/2013 02:02 PM

Here are five things to watch Saturday when No. 7 Auburn visits Tennessee.

Auburn has outscored teams 64-30 in the fourth quarter this season. Tennessee also has played well in the fourth quarter and is outscoring opponents 48-31 in that period.

Jones criticized his team for getting dominated on both sides of the line of scrimmage in a 31-3 loss at Missouri. He vowed that "Tennessee football is not going to be soft." He nicknamed his offensive line "Club 90" this week because of the Vols' failure to gain 100 yards rushing against Missouri. Tennessee must show more toughness at the line of scrimmage to have a shot at pulling the upset.

Tennessee reached Missouri territory on over half its possessions last week, yet the Vols only scored three points. The Vols must do a better job of taking advantage of their scoring opportunities Saturday.

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn and Tennessee linebackers coach Tommy Thigpen were assistants on Auburn's 2010 national championship team. Thigpen worked at Auburn as a safeties coach in 2009-11 and as linebackers coach last year. Tennessee secondary coach Willie Martinez coached Auburn's defensive backs last season.

Auburn leads the SEC with 306.2 yards rushing per game. Tennessee is allowing a league-high 201.7 yards rushing per game. Auburn averages 6.3 yards per carry, while Tennessee gives up 5.1 yards per rush. Auburn ran so effectively last week that it attempted only nine passes in a 35-17 victory over Arkansas. The Vols can't allow Auburn to run wild.