Tulane quarterback Justin McMillan is no stranger to the SEC
Tulane’s senior quarterback knows a thing or two about the SEC after starting his collegiate career at LSU. After losing the battle to be the Tigers’ quarterback last year to Ohio State transfer Joe Burrow, McMillan headed to New Orleans, where he threw for 1,304 yards with 10 touchdowns and four interceptions in nine games. McMillan is off to an ideal start with the new-look Tulane offense, having completed 14-of-18 passes for 199 yards and two touchdowns in the Green Wave’s 42-14 victory over Florida International.
D-Line needs to dominate from start to finish
The strength of this Auburn team is its defensive line. Early on against Oregon, this unit was embarrassed. The Ducks pushed them around and ran all over them, and Justin Herbert had all day to pick apart the secondary. As the game progressed, so did the defensive line. By the end of the game they had completely flipped the script. Oregon’s offensive line was experienced and loaded with NFL talent. Tulane’s isn’t that kind of unit. Auburn can’t afford to take a half to rev up. The Tigers need to make McMillan feel them from the first quarter through the fourth, and they cannot let the Green Wave establish the ground game.
Kick and punt coverage units need to tighten up
There was a lot of sloppiness from Auburn against Oregon, but the worst area was the punt coverage team where Oregon’s Jevon Holland returned three punts for 131 yards and a 43.7 yards-per-return average. Even if you take out the 81-yard return he had as just a great individual effort, he still averaged 25 yards per return on the other two. The kick coverage was certainly better than the punt team, but allowing big plays in special teams is often the difference between a win and a loss. Auburn can’t afford poor special-teams play to become a trend.
Limiting turnovers in Bo Nix’s second start
It took every weapon in Auburn’s arsenal to get past Oregon in the teams’ throwdown last Saturday, including the gunslinging and improvisational ingenuity of Nix behind center. In games like this, Nix has the opportunity to trust and lean on the talent around him. After throwing two interceptions against Oregon, Nix should work to eliminate those turnovers and manage the game knowing Auburn’s talent has Tulane’s beat at other positions across the field. The Tigers have the chance to win barring big swings like the ones turnovers can create.
Emptying the stable
Auburn has an eyebrow-raising six running backs listed as co-starters on its depth chart. Even though Gus Malzahn was quick to reveal that last year’s leading rusher JaTarvious Whitlow would be Auburn’s first man out on the field, Auburn has the chance to get some of those other running backs going against Tulane. Whitlow rushed 24 times for 110 carries against Oregon. No other Auburn tailback had any more than four carries in the game. Veteran Kam Martin, speedy Shaun Shivers and all the rest could work their way into the action against the Green Wave.