Five reasons Auburn could struggle against Mercer in Week 1

Auburn is set to face the Mercer Bears of the Southern Conference in their first game of the 2022 season.

This Auburn football has the talent to be elite, but the question is, will it all fit together?

Fortunately, the wait to find out just how good this Tiger team could be is almost over as we are less than two days away from Auburn’s season opener.

Mercer played a game a week ago and looked pretty good, beating Morehead State 63-13. The Bears had plenty of players who performed well in the blowout win.

Let’s look at five ways Auburn could lose this football game.

© Gary Cosby via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Ty James is the Bears’ best receiver, and boy, did he have a stellar game in week zero. James caught five passes for 192 yards and three touchdowns. Either Jaylin Simpson or Nehemiah Pritchett will draw with James. If those two Tiger corners fail to stop James, it could lead to a Bears win. James will be a great first test for Auburn’s high school as the team prepares for its date with Penn State.

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A week ago in their Week Zero clash, Mercer was able to head the ball with ease. The team rushed for a whopping 359 yards against Morehead State. Their top two runners were Austin Douglas, who ran the ball five times for 140 yards and two touchdowns, and Al Wooten, who ran it 13 times for 96 yards. It will be up to the linebackers and defensive linemen to stop Mercer’s running attack. If Mercer is able to run all over Auburn, the Tigers could lose.

Todd Van Emst/UA Athletics

The offensive line is one of the positions in question in this Auburn football team. Especially now that Tate Johnson has taken over from Nick Brahms. Bryan Harsin wants the identity of this Auburn football team to play smashing football and run it at a high level. The offensive line will have to be pushed for this to become a reality. If the offensive line is helping Tank Bigsby and Jarquez Hunter eat, then Auburn should easily take care of business. If the offensive line can’t be pushed, the Tigers will struggle to move the ball and could lose Game 1.

TJ Finley (1) Auburn football practice on Tuesday August 9, 2022 in Auburn, Ala. Todd Van Emst/AU Athletics

Todd Van Emst/UA Athletics

Auburn’s passing game will come down to three position groups to do it; the quarterback, the pass catchers and the offensive line. If those three groups are in sync, Auburn’s passing offense should be able to rack up a ton of points. If Auburn’s passing offense can’t get going, it could be a long night for the Tigers, and they could very well lose the game. According to the coaching staff, TJ Finley has taken a step forward in his mechanics and accuracy, so the hope is that he will put up some monster numbers against Mercer.

Tar'Varish Dawson Jr. at Auburn football practice Friday, March 18, 2022 in Auburn, Ala. Todd Van Emst/AU Athletics

Todd Van Emst/UA Athletics

In their winless week against Morehead State, Mercer allowed just 161 yards through the air. Their defensive backs looked very solid in the win. Auburn’s wide receivers are another questionable position on this list because there isn’t a whole lot of experience for everyone. If the Tiger receivers can dominate the Bear defensive backs, the Tigers will have no trouble scoring and should win by a wide margin. If the Tiger receivers can’t create any separation from the Bears secondary, the Tigers could lose their season opener.

Auburn should be able to take their first game of the season easily, but this Mercer team is no joke, and the Tigers need to be ready to play their best football.


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