November 28, 2008

Inside the matchups: The Iron Bowl

You don't have to watch much film of Alabama's offense to know what stands out. It certainly didn't take Auburn defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads long.

"The No. 1 thing they do is they wear people out with the running game," Rhoads said. "Their offensive line is massive and physical."

The Tide ground game is averaging 198.5 yards per game. Junior left tackle Andre Smith is one of the nation's best and he anchors a big and veteran unit. Alabama features three running backs with more than 330 rushing yards led by junior Glen Coffee, who has rushed for 1,091 yards and eight touchdowns on 179 carries.

"They've got a great offensive line," AU defensive end Antonio Coleman said. "They run behind their blockers. The running backs hit the right hole. When they hit the holes, and the linebackers don't fill the gaps they're supposed to, that's when they hurt you."

The Tide also features one of the nation's top freshman receivers in Julio Jones, who leads the team with 43 catches for 687 yards and four TD's.

"He is physical and he can create separation whether it's a hot game or a vertical game," Rhoads said. "He's a very outstanding freshman receiver."

AU junior cornerback Jerraud Powers will be matched up opposite Jones for most of the game.

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