AUBURN, Alabama -- AUBURN, Alabama -- Neither Auburn defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson or Texas A&M counterpart Mark Snyder had to dig into the dusty pages of their playbooks to prepare for this Saturday's showdown between ranked teams in College Station.
Snyder's Aggies just finished beating Ole Miss, a team that runs an offensive scheme closely tied to Gus Malzahn's hurry-up, no-huddle.
Auburn, on the other hand, is coming off of a pair of games against Ole Miss and Western Carolina, a pair of teams who like to use plenty of single-back, four-receiver sets and run some of the same concepts as Kevin Sumlin's Air Raid.
"Obviously, Texas A&M has great physical talent, but the formation recognition — especially when they start speeding it up, because they're a fast-paced team, too — that's just going to help us to have been looking at those formations and being aligned in the same things," Johnson said.
Auburn, a team ranked 10th in the SEC in total defense but third in scoring defense, has been at its best against teams that spread the field and throw the ball, ranking second in the SEC in defensive pass efficiency.
Being able to keep the same personnel in practice against the same formations makes it easier for Johnson to tweak his game plan, because there's less of a learning curve in picking up the opponent's intentions.
And those tweaks become even more important when an opponent has an idea of what a defense likes to do against a similar scheme.
"I think it goes both ways," Snyder said. "Obviously, Gus is looking at the film and going, OK, here's how they defended it."
Auburn has shown a little less variation than Texas A&M to this point.
For the most part, the Tigers have done their best work out of either their base 4-2-5 defense or the dime package that closely resembles the base.
"When you run a lot of base, usually that means you feel like you're balanced across the field," Texas A&M offensive coordinator Clarence McKinney said. "They're very talented."
And even though there are similarities between schemes, Auburn and Texas A&M's offenses both feature more variety than a scheme like Ole Miss.
For example, Ole Miss doesn't have the power component to its running game that Auburn relies on heavily.
"Gus has probably a few more things than Hugh has, but it's very similar," Snyder said. "I think those guys are tight."
By the same token, Texas A&M's Air Raid is a different philosophy and running scheme than what the Rebels and Catamounts use.
But Johnson sees the similarity as a positive.
When players don't have to alter their pre-snap reads much from week to week, it's easier to play fast after the ball is snapped.
"The formation recognition and the adjustments and the calls and the checks — we'll always tweak a game plan, but when you talk about trips or you talk about doubles or you talk this formation, the more players see it, the more comfortable they are in adjusting to it," Johnson said. So there's some carryover there that's going to help us."