War Eagle Extra

Gameday: Strength in numbers for Auburn as it welcomes Jacksonville St.

Michael Niziolek

mniziolek@ledger-enquirer.com

Week 2: No. 6 Auburn vs. Jacksonville St.

When: Sept. 12, 2015; Noon EST

Where: Jordan-Hare Stadium (Auburn, Ala.)

Watch: SECN

Listen: Any of Auburn IMG Sports Network's affiliate stations across Alabama, and the surrounding states. 

Did you know?

This is the first matchup between Auburn and Jacksonville St. programs that have a combined 200 years of tradition on the gridiron. The Gamecocks’ campus is located just 108 miles away in Jacksonville, Alabama. The Tigers are 92-47-2 against teams in the state of Alabama.

Auburn is 97-15-3 all-time in home-openers with its last loss in a home-opener against Georgia Tech in 2005. 

Youth movement

In a 31-24 win over Louisville last week at the Georgia Dome, 23 players made their Auburn debut including defensive lineman Byron Cowart, defensive back Tim Irwin, linebacker Jeff Holland, wide receiver Jason Smith, offensive lineman Austin Golson, and running back Jovon Robinson.

Nine of the players on the list were true freshman while some were transfer players like defensive backs Tray Matthews and Blake Countess. Irvin and fullback Chandler Cox were the first true freshman to start a game for the Tigers since 2011.

“We learned a whole lot about the young guys because young guys, you never know how they’re going to react until you get out there in a game,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said of the season-opener. “We feel very good about our team moving forward. I think everybody saw the freshmen and new faces that actually played for the first time wearing an Auburn uniform. It’s encouraging from the standpoint that we did some good things.”

Ready, Set, Rotate

The Auburn coaching staff expects everyone that was banged up in the Louisville game to play Saturday. Defensive lineman Carl Lawson and running back Roc Thomas will be back, and coaches identified both their positions as a spot where fans can expect to see plenty of faces.

Malzahn said his plan is to use all four of the Tigers running backs Saturday. Freshman Kerryon Johnson didn’t get a carry last week.

On the defensive line, coordinator Will Muschamp is relying on a dozen players to contribute.

“We’re going to continue to play anywhere between 10-12 guys up front especially early in the year in the south, it’s hard,” Muschamp said. “When a big guy runs out of gas, he’s done, we’re going to lose him for the game.”

Muschamp said the defense used 22 total players in week one with each of them getting 15 to 18 meaningful snaps. 

“There’s a lot of positive in that,” Muschamp said. “We’re a team that’s a young team that’s going to continue improve in a new scheme and system. There’s going to be some continual improvement and we need that.”

Rewind

Michael Niziolek covers Auburn football for the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. Email him at mniziolek@ledger-enquirer.com or follow him on Twitter, Facebook or Google+

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