Steve Morton’s Southern View-SEC Game of the Week – Part 2

NFL Draft

Big 12 Game of the Week – Week 1-Continued

Louisville at Auburn

Why this game? The SEC has two good matchups in week 1. This game and Alabama versus Wisconsin which has the makings of a physically rugged football game.  This game is the SEC game to watch because of the matchup of one of the nation’s best offenses (Auburn) vs one of the nation’s most dominant defenses (Louisville). In addition, Jeremy Johnson may emerge as a top Quarterbacks of the 2015 draft.  A loss in this game would leave Auburn having to run the table in the SEC to make the playoffs.

Where can I see it? This will be the SEC game of the week on CBS at 3:30 ET on Saturday September 5th

A historical perspective – None, unless you count Bobby Petrino doing the full Bobby Petrino and getting on a plane to interview for a job that wasn’t open in his 1st stint at Louisville.

When Louisville has the ball – Louisville has one of the best offensive minds in college football in Bobby Petrino.  Petrino faces a tall task; with less than a month prior to the season opener, he had not chosen between Reggie Bonnafon (an excellent runner) and Will Gardner returning from an injury.  Also gone is NFL 1st round talent at WR Devante Parker. The Cardinals will hope that a couple of transfers (JaQuay Savage & Jamari Staples) will join former 5 star recruit James Quick (JR) in replacing Parker’s production.  In addition, Gerald Christian is also gone but his replacement Reggie Towbridge might be the offense’s best player. The offensive line has similar issues with a set of NFL 3rd rd picks gone as well the starting Center.  Auburn looks to be a tough match-up out of the gate for Louisville’s offense with Coach Boom, Will Muschamp, coming from Florida. In addition, Carl Lawson will return from injury to man the DE/LB pass rushing role. Auburn returns its three leading tacklers (McKinzy, Frost and Ford) as well as a good CB (Jones) and a quality safety transferring from Georgia (Tray Matthews). The talent had breakdowns last year in losses to Texas A&M and Alabama last year. The hope is this is where Coach Boom brings the boom.

When Auburn has the ball – Auburn is helmed by college football’s elite teacher of go go spread offense, Gus Malzahn. Jeremy Johnson will be a legitimate Heisman candidate in his 1st year as a starter. Johnson combines a power arm and power running style for a QB. Johnson is the perfect fit for the Malzahn offense. Malzahn will have freshman Roc Thomas and Jovon Robinson from the Junior College ranks to run the ball. The offensive line is manned by a person with at least one SEC start at each position including Sunday talent in Alex Kozan, Avery Young and Shon Coleman. Losing Duke Williams to a dismissal from the team due to a rules violation, as well as losing Sammie Coates to the NFL will be eased by Johnson and a solid but unspectacular receiver corps. Counter-balancing the Auburn offensive juggernaut will be one of the most talented defensive players in the nation despite losing two OLBs and the entire secondary. Replacing them will be a host of highly recruited players led by Keith Kelsey. In addition, they boast of two solid run stuffing ends and a massive NT return to anchor the run. Devante Fields, a former Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, transfers from JC and brings a potential NFL pass rusher to replace Lorenzo Mauldin. Two Georgia transfers, both with NFL talent, will anchor the secondary. Josh Harvey-Clemons is a safety with LB size (6’4 230) and a safeties coverage ability. Harvey-Clemons might end the season as a top 20 in the NFL level talent. Shaq Wiggins provides ball hawking and speed at one CB.

2016 Offensive Draft Player to Watch – Jeremy Johnson QB Auburn – Johnson has the size and arm strength that will make any NFL scout drool. In limited action, he has been scintillating. With all of the 2016 QBs having holes in their game.  From questions regarding: a lack of production (Christian Hackenberg), physical tools (Jared Goff), or whether they will play in 2015 (Cardale Jones) Johnson should emerge as the leading QB of the 2016 class.  Johnson will face the same questions surrounding his offensive scheme as Cam Newton and Marcus Mariota have in recent years.

2016 Defensive Player to Watch – Josh Harvey-Clemons S Louisville – Almost every team in the NFL is in need of an upgrade at safety. Clemons is a LB sized safety at 6’4, 230 with sub 4.5 speed. He flashes the ability to cover Tight Ends in space and as a physical run defender and blitzer when teams go single high. In addition, his athletic ability and range are plus when he drops back into two deep.

Don’t take this to Vegas Prediction

Like the Spartans vs the Persians at Thermopylae, the Cardinal defense (Spartans) holds the Tigers early until the grind of little Louisville offense plus a powerful Auburn offense (Persians) wears them down late for a closer than the score indicates 42-7 win for the Auburn Tigers. (No word if Bobby Petrino will yell ‘This is Sparta’ before the game).


Bonus – the highly prestigious and influential NostaSteven Top 10


  • Ohio State
  • Clemson
  • Auburn
  • Baylor
  • Alabama
  • TCU
  • Tennessee
  • Florida State
  • Notre Dame
  • Oregon


Heisman Trophy Winner – Deshaun Watson QB Clemson


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