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Rocky Top meets a rocky start | Game Preview: Tennessee Volunteers vs. #21 Auburn Tigers

Auburn looks to bounce back after their tough road loss to Mississippi State

Jarrett Stidham makes a throw in the first half.
Auburn at Miss State football on Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018 in Starkville, Ms
Todd Van Emst/AU Athletics
Jarrett Stidham makes a throw in the first half. Auburn at Miss State football on Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018 in Starkville, Ms Todd Van Emst/AU Athletics

Coming off a road loss to Mississippi State last Saturday, Auburn returns home to Jordan-Hare Stadium for a week seven match-up with Jeremy Pruitt’s Tennessee Vols who are currently 0-2 in the SEC. For the Tigers, the hopes of making it back to Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game look quite bleak following a second loss to an in-conference opponent.

Auburn’s offense has not met expectations on the year so far and last week was a sum of all that has gone wrong for the Tigers. The problems for Auburn start up front with the offensive line who haven’t been able to protect its quarterback, Jarrett Stidham. 

As a result, Stidham’s completion percentage has dipped to 60% on the year and he has only tossed 5 TDs in 6 games. Stidham has also struggled with accuracy and over-throws as well. On the ground, freshman Boobee Whitlow has been a pleasant surprise for the Tigers, leading the team in yards and touchdowns. 

Now that Whitlow is healthy and no longer limited from a shoulder injury he suffered against Southern Miss, it's time for Auburn to make him the featured back much like Kerryon Johnson was last year. 

Whitlow has shown the ability to break tackles and earn tough yards after contact so making him the main back should help with some consistency in the run game. Kam Martin and Shaun Shivers should also complement as very good change-of-pace options.

On defense, the Tigers have looked great especially along the front seven. Marlon Davidson and Derrick Brown have wreaked havoc up front for a team ranked 20th in total defense. 

Last week however, the Tigers surrendered 349 yards on the ground but only 69 through the air. It will be interesting to see how Tennessee has game planned for this match-up especially with an extra week to prepare. 

On Saturday, Tennessee will be lead by sophomore QB Jarrett Guarantano who has taken several hits and pressures in his past two games against Florida and Georgia respectively. The Vols are 2-3 on the year and been outscored 85-33 in two SEC games so far. 

On defense, the Volunteers have a pretty experienced line who can certainly cause some problems and keep them in the game. If the Vols have spent the past 13 days on diversifying their offense, getting the ball to their difference-makers in space, and keeping Guarantano upright, Tennessee has a shot of making this a fourth quarter game.

SCORE PREDICTION: Auburn 27, Tennessee 15

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