By Dylan Larck
Going into week two of the 2021 season, Auburn will take on the Alabama State Hornets of the SWAC. The Hornets finished with a 3-3 (3-2 SWAC) record last season, which put them at fourth in the conference.
ASU was a middle of the pack team of the SWAC as they were able to beat the lesser teams of the conference but were not able to get it done against the better teams.
This offense was led by the SWAC Freshman of the Year in quarterback Ryan Nettles, who had a good season throwing for 917 yards, eight touchdowns and five interceptions in six games. He did this behind a bad offensive line, which allowed 12 sacks, and half of those came against their week one opponent, Southern University.
The run game was ranked third in the conference. Running back Ezra Gray led the team with 465 yards while averaging 5.2 yards per carry. Gray returns for his final year of eligibility due to COVID-19. On the receiving end of the offense, ASU ranked in the middle of the SWAC in terms of yards and in touchdowns. No receiver, like Akron, had over 300 receiving yards at the end of the season.
The special teams unit was ranked at the bottom of the SWAC as their kickers struggled to make field goals. The kickers only went 1-for-5 on their attempts, which is dead last in the conference.
The passing defense was the best of the SWAC as they were able to force turnovers, getting five interceptions and forcing the lowest completion percentage with 49.4 percent. The secondary only allowed 184.8 passing yards per game led by First-Team All-SWAC Irshaad Davis.
The rushing defense was the weakest part of the defense as they gave up the third most rushing yards at 726. They also gave up 145.2 yards per game.
Their defensive line was up there with the secondary in terms of how good they were, as they produced two All-SWAC players, one returning for the season: Andrew Ogletree.
MAKE OR BREAK FACTORS:
Auburn will look to use the run game against the Hornets. Tank Bigsby averaged over six yards per carry, and this defense is really young with the defensive line only returning one starter.
Defensively, Auburn can key-in on the run game and will shut down this offense as the Hornets were not consistently effective at passing the ball last season.