Oct. 12, 2013
AUBURN, Ala. - It's homecoming at Auburn, and the outcome is not in doubt. Western Carolina, loser of 15 of its last 16 games, 32 straight games to FBS and FCS opponents and 24 straight Southern Conference games, is in town to pick a $525,000 check.
It will be the Catamounts' third game this season against an FBS opponent. It will be their second trip to Alabama this season. On Sept. 28, they lost 62-23 at Samford. Last season, they went to Tuscaloosa and lost 45-3 to eventual national champion Alabama.
Tough duty, being a Western Carolina football player.
I suspect Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn will do what he can to hold the score within reason, but sometimes there's nothing a coach can do.
Breaking it down:
All eyes on quarterback Jeremy Johnson
The most-watched man in the stadium today will be true freshman Auburn quarterback Jeremy Johnson, who last played for Carver High School in Montgomery. He'll get the start in place of Nick Marshall, who suffered a knee injury in last Saturday's 30-22 victory over Ole Miss. Malzahn might even have sold a few tickets when he announced Friday that Johnson will be the starter.
Getting close to a milestone
After today's game, barring the biggest upset in SEC history, Auburn will be 5-1. That's one game away from bowl eligibility. That's a big deal for a team that suffered through a 3-9 season in 2012.
Time for walk-ons to play?
Senior running back Chandler Shakespeare, junior wide receiver Dimitri Young and senior defensive back Blake Poole were awarded scholarships before the start of the season. Shakespeare and Young have yet to play in a game in their careers. Poole has played, but not this season. Is today their time? One would hope so. They deserve it.
Catching those passes
Auburn receivers have, from time to time, had issues with dropping passes. That really doesn't have anything to do with the opponent. Offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee will be looking for improvement in that area today.
Marshall isn't the only Tiger facing injury issues. Linebacker Justin Garrett (foot) will not play. Defensive tackle Montravius Adams (knee) could play, but I'd be surprised if he does. Malzahn says linebacker Cassanova McKinzy (neck) practiced all week and should be ready to play.
Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow Marshall on Twitter: