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Thoughts on Saturday

Looking ahead to Saturday’s game against Mississippi State:

Brandon Cox

* Don’t be surprised if it’s uncomfortably close, at least for a while. Mississippi State doesn’t have a whole lot of offense, but its defense is pretty salty.

* Don’t assume you’ll see middle linebacker Tray Blackmon on the field. He might play, but there is a good chance he won’t. Blackmon must really be frustrated. He went through so much in the offseason and has been out since the first half of the opener against Kansas State.

* When you look at who hasn’t been available, the performance of Auburn’s defense has been pretty close to remarkable.

* It might be crazy to say it after just two games, but Wes Byrum looks like he could be one of Auburn’s all-time best.

* Ditto freshman right tackle Lee Ziemba. On one running play against South Florida, he personally took out three defenders.

* There’s no way to know how they’ll play, but worries about whether Auburn football players are focused on Mississippi State are baseless. Unlike the fans, players put losses behind them and move on. They don’t have any choice.

* It looked for a while like it might be a wet one Saturday morning, but the forecast now calls for clear skies and temperatures in the low 80s. Even in good weather, Auburn crowds for early games are usually smaller than usual and quieter than usual. That’s one area in which Auburn football is behind many of the other top programs in the nation. Considering the tremendous passion of Auburn fans, I’ve always had a little trouble understanding that. There’s a chance Auburn could play its entire home schedule and not have a sellout until the finale against Alabama.

* Auburn has and will play more talented quarterbacks this season than Mississippi State’s Michael Henig, but it won’t play one that is more motivated. Henig grew up in a very loyal Auburn family and very much wanted to play for Auburn. He got no scholarship offer and leaves little doubt that he is resentful of that.

* My gut feeling is senior Auburn quarterback Brandon Cox will be much more efficient Saturday than he has been in the past two games.

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