Tennessee Vols vs. Auburn Tigers: opportunities and threats

The official NCAA stats for both the Vols and the Tigers confirms that points are likely going to be at a premium this Saturday. Look for Tennessee to lean on the run game, Auburn’s defense to wreak havoc in the form of way too many tackles for loss, and hidden yards, field position, and turnovers to play a major role in the outcome.

Auburn’s Offense

Auburn’s offense appears to be doing well at not air-mailing the ball to the other team. Other than that, though, they’re struggling. Their passing offense is only 96th, and their running offense is only 78th, and they’re particularly bad in the red zone and on third and fourth down.

Tennessee’s Defense (after Georgia)

In contrast, Tennessee’s defense appears to be doing better than expected, and they are particularly good on third down. Then again, they’re bad in the red zone, but perhaps that and Auburn’s ineptitude in the same location washes out. Tennessee’s also not so good at intercepting passes so far this season, and with Auburn protecting against that so well, any gift through the air will be a surprise.

Opportunity: On balance, Tennessee should have an actual advantage over Auburn when the Tigers’ offense is on the field. They’ll need to make the most of it, because things are going to be much more difficult on the other side of the ball.

Auburn’s Defense

The Tigers’ defense is another story. They simply do not allow opponents to put many points on the board. They, too, are especially good on third down, they are ballhawks in the passing game, and although they are only average in actually getting sacks, they do create havoc in their opponents’ backfield in the form of tackles for loss.

Tennessee’s Offense (after Georgia)

The bad news for the Vols offense is that they’re not especially good at putting points on the board or at converting third downs. They are good at protecting against interceptions, though, so perhaps that balances out against the War Eagle Ball Hawks.

Trouble: Auburn’s defense is 15th in the nation in tackles for loss and Tennessee’s offense is 112th in TFLs allowed.

Opportunity: The Vols’ rushing offense isn’t yet awesome by any means, but it is somewhat capable, and if there’s a weakness in Auburn’s defense, it’s against the run.

Auburn’s Special Teams

Tennessee’s Special Teams (after Georgia)

Trouble: Auburn appears better positioned to win in the “hidden yards” category, as they have a good matchup when returning kicks and their punting numbers are better.

Auburn’s Turnovers and Penalties

Tennessee’s Turnovers and Penalties (after Georgia)

Threat: Tennessee’s turnover numbers are terrible, and Auburn’s are good, but we all know about the ongoing debate about how much of this is luck and how much is making your own luck, right?

Opportunity: Tennessee appears to be the more disciplined team in terms of not giving away yards in the form of penalties so far this season.


  • Tennessee’s defense should have an actual advantage over Auburn’s offense.
  • Tennessee’s best bet on offense against an intimidating Auburn defense appears to be in the run game. The biggest threat on offense is allowing too many tackles for loss.
  • Auburn appears to be better positioned to win the hidden-yards-on-special-teams game.
  • The Vols could make up some ground by committing fewer penalties than Auburn, but it could also be undone by losing the turnover battle.

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