Colby Wooden

Colby Wooden (25) forces a pass during the game between Auburn and Texas A&M last Saturday

After back-to-back stellar performances, the Auburn defense looks to build off those games once the Mississippi State Bulldogs come into town. 

The Bulldogs possess an air raid offense, capable of putting up points on the scoreboard and averaging nearly 54 passes per game.

“I feel like we have one of the best secondaries in the country, so for them to come pass the ball 50 times, this is a chance to show what we got with our ball skills,” Defensive back Smoke Monday said.

The Tigers haven’t allowed an offensive touchdown over their last six quarters of football against Ole Miss and Texas A&M. In the seven red zone appearances in those quarters only the Aggies were able to score, scoring on their three red zone trips with field goals. The bend-don’t-break Auburn defense has been able to keep the team in those games, especially with an offense that has struggled to put up points over that same time span.

“At the end of the day, the secondary just got to be perfect with our techniques all the time, I mean that’s what it comes down to.” Monday said.

Now with a potent Mississippi State offense that can score at any spot on the field coming to the plains, the Tigers will have their work cut out for them. Bulldogs’ quarterback Will Rogers leads the SEC and is third nationally in passing yards, having thrown for 3,307 yards in nine games.

“That’s something you always look forward to, just being able to get after the quarterback and show what we can do really in our pass rush and put pass rush film on tape.” said EDGE Derick Hall.

With such a pass-heavy offensive mindset, this opens the door of opportunity for the Tiger pass rush to shine. Auburn is tied for fifth among Power Five teams in terms of tackles for loss, but that hasn’t necessarily translated into sacks for the Tiger defense.

“Knowing the opportunity that we have, I think this Saturday we'll have more opportunities, obviously, to get sacks and just being able to put that on display to be more relentless in our pass rush,” Hall said.

Throwing an average of 54 times per game also brings up the motor necessary to be able to effectively rush the passes that many times per game. The Tigers will have to rely on depth in their front seven to be able to get pressure on Rogers, as it would be unrealistic to have starters in on the defensive line the entire game.

“Coming into this week, I think just building depth is going to be huge, just across the d-line and just being able to rush the passer,” Hall said. “We know they throw the ball a lot, so we just have to be efficient this week delivering our pass rush and just making sure we’re doing the right effort and techniques to be able to make it show up on Saturday.”

If the Tigers can shut down the Mississippi State pass game, then it should make for an easy win over the Bulldogs. The Tigers will try to do just that when they meet the Bulldogs in Jordan-Hare Stadium at 11 a.m. on Saturday.

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