The Auburn Tigers are set to make their furthest college football trip to date, as they travel 2,423 miles for a big time battle on the west coast versus the Cal Bears.
The Hugh Freeze campaign began last week on the Plains where the Tigers, behind a two quarterback system, handled the visiting Minuteman from Massachusetts. The Tigers are looking to welcome back Preseason All SEC tailback, Jarquez Hunter, back to the starting lineup for the first time this season.
Cal, led by a balanced and high power offensive attack, are welcoming the opportunity to defend their home turf for the first time this season.
The question of the game: Which run game breaks through?
Auburn averaged 6.6 yards per carry in week one, tallying 289 yards on the ground. Auburn saw their first glimpse of backup quarterback, Robby Ashford, as he commanded the red zone offense and found himself in the end zone three times. The five-deep running back group and much improved offensive line will be what Hugh Freeze leans on the most, wanting to keep his new QB and the beat up receiver group out of trouble early.
“Our quarterback decision-making needs to be 100 percent, or at least in the high 90’s”, Freeze said about his quarterback the Monday following game one.
Where Auburn (predicted by coach Hugh Freeze) struggled the most in week one was defending the run.
“Again, we have some alignment issues”, Freeze stated, “We still don’t get off blocks great, and we’ve got to try to keep improving that”.
Auburn surrendered 140 yards on the ground to UMASS, an average of 5.2 yards per carry. Granted, subtracting the anomaly UMASS opening drive, the defense looked sound.
Looking at the opposition, the Cal Bears ran for 347 yards in their season opener on the road at North Texas. Jadyn Ott led the way for the Bears, going for 178 yards on 20 carries and two touchdowns. The Bears also had two others north of 50 total rushing yards.
On the other side of the ball, the North Texas offense did not prove much of a rushing threat for the Cal front seven, rushing for only 41 yards on 27 carries.
“His kids are going to be in the right spot and lined up correctly”, coach Freeze said in regard to the Cal defense, “They are going to tackle well. It’s not a complicated scheme, but they do what they do really, really well”.
One has to give in tonight’s action. Auburn is currently listed as a five point favorite on the road, though ESPN’s “Matchup Predictor” lists Cal favored 54.9%-45.1%. Find the game on ESPN and live, where kickoff is slated for 9:30 p.m. central time.