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Pregame Blitz: Texas A&M vs. Auburn

November 4, 2017

AUBURN MUST

Run, run, run

Auburn’s 212-pound Kerryon Johnson (723 yards rushing, 14 TDs) will be a load behind center Casey Dunn, right guard Braden Smith and right tackle Darius James -- a trio of seniors who have a combined 85 starts.

Limit negative plays

Auburn ranks 104th in the country in sacks allowed and 82nd in allowing tackles for a loss, area’s Texas A&M excels in ranking second and 13th, respectively.

Dial up the pressure

A&M’s offensive line had a tough time picking up Mississippi State’s stunts and blitzes, so look for Auburn to do the same, only with better players.

TEXAS A&M MUST

Find some offense

The Aggies haven’t scored more than 24 points or gained at least 400 yards over their last four games. A&M produced only two plays of longer than 20 yards last week.

Pressure the QB

In Auburn’s two losses, quarterback Jarrett Stidham completed only 19 of 50 passes for 244 yards, getting sacked 14 times. And both games were on the road.

Start fast

A&M was never in last week’s 35-14 loss to Mississippi State. From the outset, the team couldn’t execute, and the crowd seemed in a trance. Little changed as the Aggies failed to find a spark offensively. Finding one Saturday morning could get the early crowd going.

When the Aggies run

Texas A&M’s running backs are averaging only 2.5 yards per carry in the last three games. Auburn hasn’t allowed any team to rush for 200 yards, but Mississippi State had 194 yards because of mobile quarterbacks. A&M needs Kellen Mond to be a factor. EDGE: EVEN

When the Aggies pass

Mond completed just eight passes in each of the last two games. A&M needs wide receiver Christian Kirk to have that many catches Saturday. Auburn senior safeties Tray Matthews and Stephen Roberts each have 20 career starts, so Mond must be cautious after throwing four interceptions in his last 57 passes. EDGE: AUBURN

When the Tigers run

Kamryn Pettway, the team’s second-leading rusher, is out with an injury, but the Tigers are deep at running back. A&M has allowed three straight opponents to rush for more than 225 yards. Auburn’s offense is one of the best at using different formations and motion to create space on the perimeter. EDGE: AUBURN

When the Tigers pass

Jarrett Stidham has the arm and accuracy to challenge a young secondary that might have to help out stopping the run. If it does, look out. Auburn receivers Will Hastings and Darius Slayton have combined for 28 catches, averaging 23.5 yards per grab with five scores. EDGE: AUBURN

Special teams

Field goals will be almost automatic with A&M’s Daniel La Camera and Auburn’s Daniel Carlson both Lou Groza Award semifinalist. Both teams are just as strong in the other phases of the kicking game, too. EDGE: EVEN

Intangibles

Auburn is 2-0 at Kyle Field since the Aggies joined the SEC. An 11 a.m. start also favors the visitors. When was the last time Kyle Field rocked in the morning? Probably only for Texas. But there’s good news for those who wake up early Saturday. Just a bit after brunch, the winning team’s fans can enjoy all that extra time by celebrating a big SEC West victory. EDGE: EVEN