Countdown to Kickoff: 10 Players To Watch


Heisman Finalists Jameis Winston and Tre Mason lead a group of players to watch for the National Championship.

Auburn – Tre Mason, RB
The Auburn running back was a Heisman finalist and finished the year with 1,621 yards on the ground, 8th in the nation.  He averages 124.69 yards per game, 10th best in the country and 5.73 yards per carry.  Mason is an explosive back that really came on in the last several games of the year running for 583 yards over his last 3 games including the record breaking 304 yards in the SEC Championship game.

Auburn – Nick Marshall, QB
Nick Marshall is one of only five quarterbacks to rush and pass for 1,000 yards this season. Marshall is speedster that is a former cornerback at Georgia. After struggling the beginning of the year running Gus Malzhan’s read option offense, the light came on after the LSU game and Marshall ran for 100+ yards in 4 of the last 8 games and had two other games with 89+ yards on the ground. Marshall is not a quarterback that will beat you through the air very often, but he is good enough to keep defenses honest. He averages a respectable 8.3 yards per attempt and over the last 8 games (109 attempts) has only thrown one interception.

Auburn – Robensen Therezie, Star
Auburn’s pass defense gave up a lot of yards this year. Going up against Florida State, Star/cornerback Robensen Therezie will have to play well for the Tigers defense to slow down the Seminole passing attack. Therezie had 4 of Auburn’s 13 interceptions on the year.  With Florida State often deploying 3-4 wide receivers, Therezie will be matched up against Rashad Greene or Kenny Shaw.

Auburn – Dee Ford, DE

Dee Ford leads a deep Auburn DL.

Dee Ford led Auburn with 8.5 sacks on the season. It will be imperative for Ford to get pressure on Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston to try and slow the Florida State passing attack. Auburn has struggleddefending the pass this season and if they are forced to blitz to get pressure that leaves a suspect Auburn secondary against an excellent trio of wide receivers for Florida State.  Ford is a 6’2″ 240 lbs defensive end  that relies on speed and quickness of the edge.

Auburn – Sammie Coates, WR
Sammie Coates is basically THE receiving threat for the Auburn pass offense.  While Coates only has 23.8% of the receptions for Auburn, he has 38.1% of the receiving yards.  He has more receiving yards than the next 4 guys combined.  This is due to his explosive 22.12 yards per catch average, which is the 2nd highest in the nation.  Coates has 14 catches of 30+ yards which is tied for 3rd most in the nation.  If he can force Florida State to play 2 deep safeties and prevent the Noles from playing 8 in the box, it will be an advantage for Auburn.

FSU – Jameis Winston, QB
Jameis Winston is the Heisman Trophy winning quarterback for FSU that numerous records this season.  He leads the nation in passing efficiency (190.06) and yards per attempt (10.9).  He’s thrown for 3,820 yards, 38 touchdowns and completed 67.9% of his passes – all Top 10 in the nation.  That’s despite playing sparingly in the 2nd half of most games, including just seven 4th quarters all season and attempting just 25 passes in the 4th quarter this year.

FSU – Rashad Greene, WR
Despite leading the team in catches and yards in 2013, Rashad Greene has become a bit of a forgotten man over the last few games with the emergence of Kelvin Benjamin.  After averaging 5.6 catches and 96.6 yards over the first 8 games, Greene has averaged just 4.4 catches and 41.6 yards the last 5 games. With Benjamin probably drawing a good bit of attention from the Auburn defense, Greene will likely be freed up to have a bigger impact in the game.

FSU – Timmy Jernigan, DT
Timmy Jernigan leads Florida State with 10.5 tackles for loss and is fourth on the team with 54 tackles.

Timmy Jernigan is disruptive in the middle for FSU.

A disruptive force in the middle and one of the top defensive tackles in the nation, Jernigan will need to disrupt the Auburn running game for Florida State.  While he has the ability to win one-on-one match ups, he might be called upon to eat up blocks and disrupt the middle to allow for the linebackers to fill gaps and make plays.  If he is able to penetrate the middle of the Auburn line, it will go a long way in disrupting the rhythm and timing of the Auburn option offense.

FSU – Mario Edwards, DE
Mario Edwards is one of the larger defensive ends that Auburn will face this season.  At 6’3″ 277 lbs, Edwards is very good at defending the run and has the size and strength to set the edge on defense and force things inside.  This is important when facing a read option team like Auburn and his play will probably the most important in the game on defense for Florida State.  Most teams have run away from Edwards, particularly in the 2nd half of the season.  Due to that, he only has 22 tackles on the season (16th on the team), but 6.5 of those have gone for a loss.

FSU – Telvin Smith, LB
Telvin Smith is Florida State’s leading tackler as an undersized, but quick and instinctive linebacker.  Smith makes up for his size (6’3″ 218 lbs) by taking good angles and possess incredible closing speed.  In addition to leading the Noles in tackles with 75, he is also second on the team with 9.5 tackles for loss.

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