AUBURN, Ala. (CBSMiami.com) – When the University of Florida Gators enter Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn Saturday, they will be battling a team going through what Florida went through recently.
Auburn is coming off a national championship season powered by a Heisman Trophy winning quarterback. UF went through the same growing pain after Tim Tebow left the Gators following the 2009 season.
Both teams are also coming off brutal losses. Arkansas tore through Auburn’s defense, like everyone else has, in a 38-14 loss last weekend. The Gators have lost back-to-back games against the numbers one and two teams in the country by a combined score of 79-21.
All of that brings both teams to the plains at Auburn Saturday.
Auburn’s defense has been a shell of its former self and has had difficulty containing even the weakest of opponents. Auburn’s defense is allowing 29 points per game this season, but is ranked 105th in the nation in total defense, giving up 440 yards per game.
Putting that in perspective, Auburn’s defensive ranking is worse than Western Kentucky, San Jose State, New Mexico State, Idaho, and San Diego State.
Auburn’s offense is not doing much better. The Tigers have struggled at the quarterback position and are ranked 80th in the nation for total offense, averaging just 375 yards per game.
Florida has quarterback issues of its own. Starting quarterback John Brantley will miss his second straight game and in his place will be true freshman quarterback Jacoby Brissett.
“We will manage that as we roll through this season and I couldn’t think of anybody’s better hands to be in than (offensive coordinator) Charlie Weis,” Gators coach Will Muschamp told the Associated Press. “He knows the quarterback position very well, the temperament of the position, what it takes to be successful at the position. We’re in good hands.”
While quarterback may be a challenge for both teams, the Gators and Tigers both have running backs who can take the ball to the house every time they touch the ball.
Auburn runs the ball primarily with speedy scat back Michael Dyer. But, Dyer also gets rest thanks to the presence of Onterio McCalebb. Auburn’s running game puts up 204 yards per game on the season, which is an average of 4.8 yards per rush in 2011.
The Gators have Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps, though Demps may be limited with an ankle injury. Rainey and Demps have helped the Gators rush for 194 yards per game this season, or roughly 5 yards per carry. Plus, when the Gators run the ball, they put it in the end zone as they’ve done 12 times in 2011.
Where Florida will have a distinct advantage is stopping the run. The Gators defense is allowing just 115 yards per game, which ranks them 32nd in the country. Auburn’s run defense is abysmal, giving up 202 yards per game, ranking the Tigers 103rd out of 120 Football Bowl Subdivision teams.
Florida’s game against Auburn will kick off at 7:00 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN.