September 9, 2010 1:11:00 PM
David Miller -
Auburn visits Mississippi State looking to replicate the same offensive performance from their Week 1 blowout of Arkansas State. The Bulldogs'' offense was just as efficient and explosive in their opening-day 49-7 win over Memphis.
Here''s some quick keys for MSU winning tonight''s game.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
--Cameron Newton, Jr., QB: Coached by Dan Mullen while the two were at Florida, Newton scored five touchdowns in his Auburn debut last week. Newton spurned MSU to join Auburn after spending a year at Blinn Junior College.
--Neiko Thorpe, Jr., S: While Auburn''s offense grabbed the Week 1 headlines, the Tigers'' pass defense looked suspect in giving up 323 yards to Arkansas State. Mississippi State quarterbacks Tyler Russell and Chris Relf combined for five touchdown passes against Memphis, making Thorpe''s play pivotal in tonight''s game.
--Chris White, Sr., LB: As MSU''s middle linebacker, White will have his hands full chasing Auburn''s running backs and keeping Cameron Newton from reeling off the big plays he produced against Arkansas State. White''s importance is magnified with weak side ''backer K.J. Wright returning from an minor ankle sprain.
--Sean Brauchle, Sr., K: The greatest help Mississippi State''s defense could receive in tonight''s game comes from its kickers, Sean Bruachle in particular. The senior took the majority of MSU''s kickoffs against Memphis, but head coach Dan Mullen lamented the poor hang times and short distances of the team''s kicks. Auburn return man Demon Washington led the conference in return average last season.
THE LAST TIME...
Auburn beat Mississippi State 49-24 in 2009 and did it with a strong running game that rolled for 390 yards.
KEYS TO THE GAME:
Replicate Week 1 passing statistics
--Whether it''s Chris Relf or Tyler Russell, the Bulldogs must pass efficiently, produce big gains and avoid turnovers in the passing game. That formula led to the balance Dan Mullen covets in the 49-7 win over Memphis -- the team''s best example to date of how potent its offense can be.
Contain Cameron Newton
--The Auburn quarterback is a dual-threat -- a distinction that goes beyond running and throwing. Newton can hurt a team in both phases of the running game, gaining yards via designed runs and when he can''t locate an open receiver.
Seize the moment
--With a national audience tuned in and a sellout crowd expected to fill Davis Wade Stadium, a win would give the Bulldogs a great base in the SEC West heading with extra days to prepare for LSU. Recruiting and national exposure could get a lift, too.
Get great special teams play
--This key goes beyond kickoffs, as the Bulldogs must have solid punts from Heath Hutchins and deep kickoffs from Sean Brauchle to help cage Demond Washington and Onterio McCaleb.
Keep them guessing
--What made Mississippi State''s win over Memphis impressive was the different looks and plays the Bulldogs ran. And outside of both quarterbacks playing, 10 different Bulldogs touched the ball. Dan Mullen, ideally, would like two more receivers to add to that total. State quarterbacks lined up under center, in various shotgun formations and even used a pistol formation against the Tigers.