2-4-7 primers: Alabama vs. Auburn


7th-ranked Alabama will host Auburn on Saturday, November 26, at the 2:30 p.m. CT kickoff at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The Crimson Tide-Tiger rivalry game will air live on CBS, starring Brad Nessler, Gary Danielson and Jenny Dell. Watch this 2-4-7 preview to prepare for the final game of the regular season in Alabama’s 2022 schedule.

TWO STORIES TO MONITOR

1. Availability of injured starters

A number of players were out of uniform for last week’s game against Austin Peay, including some starters. Running back Jahmyr Gibbs (ankle) and cornerback Eli Ricks (head) were struggling with injuries from the previous week, while tight end Cameron Latu (ankle) was also not dressed up. Meanwhile, a week ago, offensive tackle Tyler Steen injured his ankle just before halftime. Head coach Nick Saban gave a positive update on most injured players.

“Most of the players trained this week — Gibbs, Steen, Eli Ricks,” Saban said. “The lads are training out there so I don’t even think about whether they played last week or not, we’re just getting ready to get going this week. We have a few guys that are still on the shelf but for the most part all the guys that we just mentioned are back in training and I think able to play.”

2. Stop Auburn’s running game

Auburn always leans on their running game, and this year is no different as the Tigers are averaging more than 40 rushing attempts per game. But in the three competitions under caretaker coach Cadillac Williams, Auburn has run the ball at least 42 times in each game and yarded at least 252 yards per game. The Crimson Tide defense will look to slow down Tank Bigsby — the SEC’s fifth-best rusher — Jarquez Hunter and co. on Saturday.

“They’re playing really well,” said Saban. “They are doing a great job running and have really good plans. You know, good players, good defenders, quarterbacks and good runners, so he kind of contributes to that too. I still think they’re very capable of throwing the ball, but they’ve been playing and trying to win on the line of scrimmage and have been pretty effective at that the past few games.”

FOUR PLAYERS TO SEE

1. Henry To’o To’o

On his radio show Thursday, Saban said Auburn’s offense was “completely different” from what UA is used to. The Tigers will want to lead the ball and use more staff to do so. It’s different in defense and it will be up to To’o To’o to put the front in the right position. Luckily for the Tide, that’s the senior linebacker’s forte, but he also needs to play well and tackle to keep Auburn’s running game in check.

2. Tyler Steen

Assuming he plays, Steen and the rest of the offensive line will be tasked with stopping two talented defensemen from putting pressure on quarterback Bryce Young. Auburn’s Derick Hall and Colby Wooden are both among the top 10 players in the SEC in tackles for loss and sacks, and lead the Tigers’ defenses by a wide margin in both categories. Both tackles need to be played well, but if Steen is unable to walk due to his injury, Amari Kight will likely get his first start.

3. Byron Young

The trenches are always important, but against a team with a strong rushing attack, they’re even more crucial to the outcome of a game. Young and the rest of the defensive line will try to keep Bigsby and the rest of the backfield from running wild, and the senior will lead that attack for the defensive line. He had a career game at Ole Miss two weeks ago and had 1.5 TFLs at Auburn last year. Young could make it big again in his last home game.

4. Yes’ Corey Brooks

Brooks didn’t do much in the second half against Austin Peay, but all signs point to him being good for the Iron Bowl. A true freshman last year, he made a couple of big catches in Auburn to lead the Tide to an overtime win. Now a sophomore, he currently leads UA’s offense in receiving yards and ties for most receiving touchdowns on the team. The Tigers’ pass defense ranks ninth in the SEC, so there should be chances through the air.

SEVEN HINTS YOU SHOULD ALWAYS OBSERVE

1. Alabama and Auburn will meet for the 87th time in Iron Bowl history when the state’s rivals go head-to-head on Saturday. The Crimson Tide has an all-time advantage of 48-37-1 in the long-running series dating back to 1893. The regular-season finale for both teams will be only their 12th fixture at Bryant-Denny Stadium and 14th overall in Tuscaloosa. The Tide is currently on a five-game winning streak at home. Alabama head coach Nick Saban is 12-8 all-time against AU, including a 10-5 mark at The Tide. Saban is also 6-1 at BDS against the Tigers. Auburn’s interim head coach Carnell Williams meets UA for the first time.

2. Alabama head coach Nick Saban is 160-20 (.889) in home games during his collegiate head coaching career. He has an advantage at every stop he’s made as a college head coach, including a 102-8 (.927) mark at UA. Following the Crimson Tide’s 34-0 win over Austin Peay on November 19, Saban has won 71 of his last 74 competitions at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

3. The Tide defense limited Vanderbilt to a season-low 14 yards in their Sept. 24 game and has kept seven of 11 opponents under 80 yards in 2022. Alabama’s defense has limited 17 of its last 26 opponents to rushing under 100 yards. The stretch comes after the 2020 season, in which seven opponents surpassed 100, and the 2019 season, in which 11 opponents surpassed 100 yards. Both the 2020 and 2019 fixture lists included 13 games.

4. Alabama quarterback Bryce Young will make his 26th start against Auburn on Saturday. He currently has the third-most passing yards in school history at 7,692 and needs just 233 to overtake John Parker Wilson (7,924 from 2005-08) for second place. AJ McCarron is the UA leader in passing yards with 9,019 from 2010-13. Young also has the third most touchdowns in a Tide career at 72, behind McCarron (77) and Tua Tagovailoa (87).

5. Linebacker Will Anderson leads the SEC with 14 tackles for loss, which also ranks 14th in the nation. With two more tackles for losses, he would overtake Wallace Gilberry (60.5 from 2004-07) and move up to second on Alabama’s career TFLs list. With 59.0 tackles for loss and 32.5 sacks, Anderson finished his Crimson Tide tenure with the second most TFLs and sacks in program history, behind only the late great Derrick Thomas (68.0, 52.0 from 1985-88 ).

6. The Crimson Tide duo of Ja’Corey Brooks and Cameron Latu have had a first down or a score greater than 70 percent more than 70 percent of the time so far this season. Brooks has converted 18 first downs and had six touchdowns that was a team high with a two-point conversion. Brooks’ 25 “money” games account for an impressive 75.8 percent of his receptions. Latu’s numbers are even better at 79.2 percent of the time as the tight end has recorded 16 first downs and three touchdowns on his 24 total catches.

7. Saturday’s regular season finale with Auburn will be Senior Day in Alabama. Including this season, the 2022 senior class has compiled a 46-6 record and won two SEC championships and the 2020 national title over the past four years. Saturday’s pregame ceremonies will honor: Jordan Battle (DB), Bret Bolin (WR), Darrian Dalcourt (OL), DJ Dale (DL), Emil Ekiyor Jr. (OL), Tyler Harrell (WR), DeMarcco Hellams (DB), Grant Krieger (WR), Cameron Latu (TE), Jaylen Moody (LB), Gabe Pugh (SN), Kendall Randolph (OL/TE), Will Reichard (PK), Jackson Roby (OL), Tyler Steen (OL), Henry To’oTo’o (LB) and Byron Young (DL).

Did you know that BOL has a podcast? The BamaOnLine podcast brings you the latest Alabama news and insights from Travis Reier, Charlie Potter, Hank South and Tim Watts. Watch the latest episode exactly here or subscribe on iTunes today!

Contact Charlie Potter via personal message or on Twitter (@Charlie_Potter).

Source