“I think that'll be part of it,” Lincoln Riley said about throwing deep passes on Auburn. “If they're playing as loaded up, then we're going to have to be able to hit them.”
The statistics certainly back up [Auburn cornerback Josh] Holsey’s claim on stopping deep passes as Auburn is one of 20 teams this season who have given up four or less completions of 40 or more yards this season. Auburn has only given up seven total plays of 40 yards or more this season.
“What we do is challenge our guys to stop the run and keep the top on the coverage,” [Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin] Steele said. “You cannot give up big runs. You can’t give up big passes.”
Auburn (8-4) will clearly use its defensive line to try and disrupt Mayfield, which is a risky proposition because Tigers head coach Gus Malzahn said last week he’s “probably even better when things break down”.
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However, Oklahoma is coming into the Sugar Bowl having scored an average of 44.8 points per game in the last 25 games since Riley, the 2015 Frank Broyles Award finalist, took over the Sooners offense.
“We're smiling. We know they're going to come out and try us,” Holsey said. “They want to throw the ball around and they've got two great guys. We like that they're a top, explosive offense and we're a great defense. It's going to be really good matchup for us. We're also a great defense so we accept the challenge." (Montgomery Advertser)