“First Of The Month”

Florida v Auburn

Saturday Spotlight

(7) Auburn Tigers at (10) Florida Gators

Auburn: They’ve really shocked a lot of people, me included. I was able to watch them closely when they played the Oregon Ducks opening weekend and the one thing, I immediately took away was their mental toughness. They were down in that game by 15 points at one time and look how they fought back. I could rant, rave and talk about Bo Nix all day long if I wanted too. He’s become one of my favorites to watch in the game of college football. What I admire about Bo is how he plays the game. He plays with a lot of moxie and swagger, but the biggest thing is how he stays so composed no matter the game situation. A perfect example of that is Auburn’s game in College Station against the Texas A&M Aggies. That’s one of the wildest crowds in the country with those fans really getting into the game and here, you have this 19-year-old kid making his first true start on the road and he doesn’t seem phased one bit by this atmosphere. In a wild SEC, Auburn is in the middle of the race when nobody expected them to do much of anything this year considering they lost so many key pieces from last year’s team but here they are undefeated. This offense found its swagger again and I really like what Kenny Dillingham is doing. He coaches Bo perfectly and they also have one of the best ground attacks in the SEC with JaTarvious Whitlow holding the fort down. The defense is also one of the best in the conference. You often hear about Alabama of course then LSU and Georgia, Auburn has a physical unit ran by Kevin Steele. It’s been a good time to be a Tigers fan and today is by far their biggest game of the year in Gainesville.

Florida: Early on, they were a big-time question mark to me. I knew their defense was legit from the get-go. It was the offense that was concerning me, and I didn’t know if Feleipe Franks was the guy to lead them at quarterback. Head coach Dan Mullen is an offensive minded guy and he’s helped him develop. When they played Kentucky a few weeks ago, Feleipe broke his ankle and has been sidelined for the rest of the season. Replacing him has been a junior named Kyle Trask who’s been nothing but productive for them. This is no disrespect to the previous starting quarterback, but if Kyle continues to play as well as he has, I’d continue to go with him moving forward because I’ve always been a big believer in remaining with the hand that’s hot now. The offense looks more potent with Trask under center and I like how he approaches the game. He scans out the entire field first and foremost. Next, his footwork is exactly where it needs to be for him to complete all the throws. He isn’t bad for someone who hasn’t started since high school. In the SEC, you must be able to come away with points and Gators do just that. I still remember when scoring was their problem prior to Mullen’s hiring as head coach. Now, they’re averaging 34 points per game. This is a punishing, yet physical defense that’s only giving up eight points a game. Today will be the biggest game they’ve played in years.

Auburn Player to Watch: Derrick Brown– You can’t talk about the Tigers defense without mentioning Derrick. He’s a projected first-round draft pick in the future. He’s a terror playing defensive tackle that’s extremely effective at both stopping the run and pass. To be successful playing the defensive tackle, you need quickness with your feet and violent hands which he has. This senior knows quite a bit about playing in big games.

Florida Player to Watch: Van Jefferson– He’s the son of former NFL receiver, Shawn Jefferson. Van has become the Gators most reliable target in the passing game. You need that big catch down the field made, he delivers. At 6’2, he appears to play smaller because he’s just as productive in the short passing game as he is going down the field.

Final Analysis: This is one of the biggest games of the year and some analysts are referring to this as the “first elimination game” for the playoffs. It’s been a while since these two programs have played, eight years to be exact. Florida needs to find a way to get the ball in the hands of Lamichal Perine, he’s one of the most versatile playmakers in the country. Keep Auburn’s defense guessing. For Auburn, I’ll be watching this offensive line against the defensive front of the Gators. The Gators will be bringing the heat, keep your quarterback protected. The atmosphere for this one today will be beyond electric!

Prediction: Auburn 31 Florida 27

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