The 2021 Iron Bowl can only be a repeat of last season in one way. That means an Alabama football win. Aside from Bryce Young’s incredible attitude, the game has to be different.
Last season, Auburn’s defense lived in the backfield of the Crimson Tide. The Auburn defense made 11 tackles to a loss, including seven sacks. Officially, the Tigers had eight quarterback rushes. Unofficially, the Tigers had more than 25 quarterbacks under pressure.
With the Crimson Tide offense unable to run against the Tigers, as in 26 carries for Alabama Football running backs for 94 yards, Bryce Young had to pass frequently. If the unofficial quarterback pressure numbers are accurate, Bryce was pressured on more than 50% of his 51 passes.
Last season’s Auburn DC Derek Mason deserved credit for a solid plan against the Crimson Tide. Mason and Auburn were also fortunate that three weeks earlier, LSU had shown how to slow down Alabama’s football offense. The approach was to bring the heat, again and again. The auburn heat was too much for more than one Crimson Tide blocker.
Alabama’s offensive line can’t be that permeable on Saturday. Running backs with blocking missions also have to deliver.
Alabama Football Offense and Auburn Pass Rush
Last season, Auburn was the #4 SEC team in sacks. The Tigers are No. 7 this season. Auburn still has impressive defenders who can cause problems for the Alabama Crimson Tide. Two of the SEC’s top six sack leaders are Auburn’s Derick Hall and Colby Wooden.
Alabama has been much better at not allowing sacks this season. In 2021, the Crimson Tide was the #13 SEC team in permitted sacks. Alabama is #5 this season. The Tide’s offensive line improved pass protection. So has an elusive Bryce Young in avoiding sacks.
Last November, Bryce Young had John Metchie III, causing a split from Auburn’s defenders, resulting in 13 pass receptions. Alabama doesn’t have a comparable reception component this season.
In oversimplification, there is some merit in noting that Alabama doesn’t have a passing game to match what it had against Auburn last season. Despite intense pressure from Auburn last year, Young rushed for 317 yards.
Another component is estimating how the 2022 Crimson Tide will fare against the Auburn defense. Alabama hasn’t always run the ball well this season. But on Saturday afternoon at Bryant-Denny, the tide rushing attack can thrive. Arkansas rushed for 5.9 yards per carry against Auburn; Ole Miss ran for 6.5 yards and Georgia’s rushing average against the Tigers was 7.5 yards.
A possible concern for the Crimson Tide is the starting status of Left Tide on Saturday, Tyler Steen is unknown. Steen is listed as daily.
Note: Statistics for this post are sourced from cfbstats.com, Sports Reference, and ESPN.
Against Auburn, the Crimson Tide may not be able to match the roaring production of Ole Miss and Georgia. But the Crimson Tide runners should do far better than last year.