Alabama Football: Auburn Tigers Defensive Preview


Alabama football looks to end its regular season with an Iron Bowl win in Bryant-Denny Stadium this weekend. The Crimson Tide offense has not been particularly special this season. Quarterback Bryce Young has battled a shoulder injury and inconsistent receiver play, resulting in the least explosive Alabama passing attack in several seasons.

To make matters worse, the Bama offense features a ground attack that was one of the nation’s most potent for the first half of the year but has since gone dormant. In its last four conference games Alabama has rushed for just 97 yards per game on 3.1 yards per carry. In what could potentially be his last game in an Alabama uniform, Young hopes to rally the offense to break out of its slump against Auburn.

Alabama Football vs Auburn Defense

The Auburn Tigers’ defense has not been very good for the majority of the 2022 season. The Tigers currently rank 76th in total defense and 86th in scoring defense, allowing 384.3 yards and 27.7 points per game.

The unit has been particularly bad against the run, an area in which Auburn is typically fairly strong. It ranks 94th nationally against the run, giving up 172.6 yards per game. The Tigers’ run defense is even worse on a per-play basis, surrendering 4.6 yards per carry (104th in FBS).

With Jase McClellan finding his stride and Jahmyr Gibbs potentially returning to the lineup, Alabama football should be able to establish the run in this game. If it can do so, the rest of the Crimson Tide offense will open up.

Alabama Football vs Auburn defensive personnel

Tackling machine Owen Pappoe leads the Auburn defense from his middle linebacker position. Pappoe has notched 246 career tackles, including a team-high 81 stops this season. He has added two sacks and two forced fumbles while bringing a lot of energy to the Tigers’ defense.

Perhaps the most concerning aspect of the Auburn defense for Alabama football is its pass rush. Derick Hall and Colby Wooden man the edges and have caused headaches for opposing offensive tackles all year. This season, Derrick Hall has 58 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles. His counterpart Colby Wooden has recorded 45 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, 6.0 sacks, and three forced fumbles.

Both Hall and Wooden are multi-year starters, and the duo has combined to make 58 career tackles for loss and 33.5 sacks. For much of the 2021 Iron Bowl, the Auburn pass rush completely incapacitated the Alabama offense. Auburn finished that game with 11 tackles for loss, eight quarterback hurries, and seven sacks (including three by Derick Hall). It goes without saying that Alabama football has to avoid a repeat of this performance.

The Auburn secondary lost several standouts from last year’s team, including Roger McCreary, Smoke Monday, and Bydarrius Knighten. While these difference-makers haven’t been replaced, the Tigers still have some notable players in their defensive backfield. Veteran safety Zion Puckett and senior cornerback Nehemiah Pritchett are the leaders on the back end for Auburn.

On paper, the Alabama offense should easily move the ball against this defense. However, Bama has been so inconsistent and unpredictable on that side of the ball that it would surprise no one if the offense bogged down.

Next. Most Iron Bowls go as expected. dark

The offensive line may be the X-factor for the Alabama offense in this one, as protecting Bryce Young and getting the ground game going will be of the utmost importance.