Alabama Football: Auburn’s few choices against the Crimson Tide


To put it kindly, Hugh Freeze’s Auburn program is in disarray. It is so bad, that what appears to be the consensus of Auburn fans is the Tigers have zero chance of competing with Alabama Football on Saturday afternoon.

But there is always some chance no matter how slim. Some Aubies might find encouragement in ESPN’s calculation that the Tigers have a 14.2% chance to win.

On Monday, Hugh Freeze was unsure about how his players would respond to the Iron Bowl, after the devastating loss to New Mexico State on Saturday. One of the Auburn players, Keionte Smith said it would be exciting to see what happens. That was after Smith said, talking about himself and his teammates,

"A lot of surprised people, a lot of confusion, a lot of questions people have …(Smith later added) Definitely a fog — just the surprise of wondering what, when, where and how."

The ‘how’ part is key. Auburn does not have a roster that gives it many options against the Crimson Tide. Auburn fans may hope for several ‘Malzahn-style’ trick plays on offense. But the Crimson Tide defense is disciplined and it will not get fooled enough times for Auburn to pull off an upset.

Instead of gimmicks, Auburn must ride its limited offensive strengths. That pretty much means a heavy load for Jarquez Hunter. In Auburn’s run of three wins, Hunter rushed for a combined total of 432 yards, with an average of 8.44 yards per carry. Hunter is also somewhat of a receiving threat, with 16 catches on the season for 111 yards.

Auburn has some other talent at running back, but the team’s second-leading rusher is quarterback, Payton Thorne. Thorne, though, is no Jalen Milroe when he runs. Some Auburn insiders are thinking Robbie Ashford at QB might be a better option against the Crimson Tide. Ashford can be a dangerous runner and pairing him with Hunter might produce some Auburn drives.

The downside with Ashford is his lack of passing accuracy. Then again, accuracy problems are not paramount with an Auburn passing attack that ranks No. 121 among FBS teams and last in the SEC.

Can Auburn slow the Alabama Football offense

Even if a run-heavy offense has some success against the Crimson Tide, Auburn might have as much challenge in limiting the Crimson Tide offense. Auburn has some talented players in its defensive secondary. Maybe the Tigers can load the box enough to contain Alabama’s rushing offense.

Though that strategy is not likely to work, even if it does, Jalen Milroe can take advantage of added passing options. Auburn’s defense is better than its offense, so the best strategy might be one with no gimmicks, along with trying to limit Milroe’s rushing yards.

Note: Stats provided by and Sports Reference

Next. Auburn must milk its spoiler role. dark

There is no magic plan for the Tigers. As good as Jarquez Hunter is, so is Kentucky’s Ray Davis, whom the Alabama football defense smothered in Lexington and held to a 2.2-yard carry average.