Opposition Research: Scouting the Auburn Tigers defense

Yesterday we started looking in-depth at the Auburn Tigers, and today we’re switching to the defensive side of the ball.

If there is hope for the Badgers in this contest, it is on this side of the ball as Auburn was so frustrated with the defensive performance that Ellis Johnson was fired as defensive coordinator. Giving up massive points to rival Alabama didn’t help, nor did ranking 60th in scoring defense and 85th against the pass.

However, there are some very talented players and Auburn is sure to want to attack the line of scrimmage and make Wisconsin throw the football. Is that a recipe that can work? Let’s take a look at what the Badgers will see on the other side of the ball.

Probable Starters:

DE: DaVonte Lambert — Jr. (6-2, 293) — 24 tackles, 7 TFLs, 3.5 sacks, 10 QBHs, 2 PBUs

DT: Montravius Adams — So. (6-4, 306) — 39 tackles, 8 TFLs, 3.0 sacks, 1 INT, 17 QBHs

DT: Ben Bradley — Sr. (6-1, 303) — 21 tackles, 3 TFLs, 2 QBHs

DE: Gimel President — So. (6-4, 259) — 28 tackles, 4 TFLs, 1.0 sack, 1 PBU, 6 QBHs

STAR: Robenson Therezie — Sr. (5-9, 212) — 39 tackles, 3.5 TFLs, 0.5 sacks, 6 PBUs, 5 QBHs

MLB: Cassanova McKinzy — Jr. (6-3, 249) — 82 tackles, 10 TFLs, 1.5 sacks, 1 INT, 3 QBHs

WLB: Kris Frost — Jr. (6-2, 234) — 75 tackles, 9 TFLs, 2.5 sacks, 1 INT, 3 PBUs, 11 QBHs

CB: Jonathan Jones — Jr. (5-10, 182) — 34 tackles, 1 TFL, 6 INTs, 10 PBUs

FS: Joshua Holsey — Jr. (5-11, 192) — 41 tackles, 2 PBUs, 1 QBH

BS: Johnathan Ford — So. (6-0, 199) — 84 tackles, 1.5 TFLs, 0.5 sacks, 3 INTs, 1 PBU, 1 QBH

CB: Jonathan Mincy — Sr. (5-10, 196) — 63 tackles, 5.5 TFLs, 1.5 sacks, 1 INT, 8 PBUs

Statistical Breakdown: 

Screen Shot 2014-12-30 at 6.50.31 PM*courtesy StatMilk.com.

3 Keys to Badgers Success:

1. Get Tight Ends Involved Early: Both Sam Arneson and Troy Fumagalli have been huge helps to the improved Badger passing game. Considering the fact that Auburn ranks 85th against the pass, having the two pass-catching threats at tight end getting involved early can help back the defense off the run game. It can also serve to help keep drives going and stretch the secondary a bit as well. Doing those two things are going to be key to success in this game, because it may be tough sledding for the wide receivers in this one.

2. Ball Security at QB: The Badgers need Joel Stave to be smart with the football, and we’re not just talking about not throwing an interception. Auburn loves to be active in the opponents backfield and they are adept at forcing fumbles (22 forced fumbles this season), and Wisconsin needs to make sure they aren’t coughing up the football when Stave is under pressure. He’s got to be able to feel that pressure and get rid of the football in smart ways or learn to tuck the ball and live for another down. Wisconsin can’t win the football game with inexcusable turnovers happening.

3. Edge Rushing: Melvin Gordon getting going early and often would be an amazing help to the Badgers cause, but Wisconsin setting the edge on offense and getting the ball to the outside would be huge. Auburn loves to be aggressive off the edge and if the Badgers can start the game by making them pay for that aggressiveness it would be huge. Gordon is great on the edge, but it would also help if a few jet sweeps or even some passing to Alex Erickson along the line of scrimmage starts to work. Let’s just put it this way, the faster Wisconsin gets the Tigers to back off the faster UW’s ground attack is going to pound them in to submission (if that’s possible). Wisconsin can’t win this game without finding ways to back off the defense, and getting the edge rushing and passing game going is one surefire way to do that.

Andrew Coppens

About Andrew Coppens

Andy is a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). He is the Managing Editor of MadTownBadger and associate editor of Bloguin's World Cup site, 32flags.com as well as Publisher of Big Ten site talking10.com