One of the first things taught to young football players is never give up on the play. Not the kind of effort that allows you to stomp on an opposing player down the field but the kind of effort that allows you to make a fumble (Kris Frost) and the recovery (Cassanova McKinzy). Twenty-two games into the Gus Malzahn era, we have seen a team that never stops fighting, which is reflection of the coaching staff. There were plenty of mistakes made by the Auburn players but their effort kept them in t
Auburn's red zone performance this Saturday night just might be the biggest key of the game. Auburn obviously needs to be able to establish the run and protect the football but red zone offense and defense will likely dictate the outcome of the game against the Rebels. During Auburn's 5 games at home, the Tigers have scored 20 TD's from 22 red zone trips (91%). During their 2 road games, Auburn has scored 3 TD's from 9 trips to the red zone (33%). Basically the same average number of trips to th
Three keys for the Auburn offense vs. Ole Miss will be the ability to run inside the tackles, score touchdowns inside the red zone and to take care of the football. The Rebel defense is built on speed, which should make it challenging to run outside on Ole Miss. LSU found their primary run-success, running between their tackles. Auburn's offensive line will need to play one of their more physical games of the season to establish their running game. When the Tigers transition into the red zone, t
One of the keys to offensive success against the Gamecocks was the use of 2-backs by the Auburn offense. The cross-buck action places stress on opposing defenses, especially with Nick Marshall as a third option. Defenses are forced to cover both edges as well as the middle. Gus Malzahn was able to compliment the outside runs with the inside power plays, which prevented the Gamecock defense from selling out at the point of attack. Look for Auburn to continue utilizing 2-back sets moving forward.
Ricardo Louis has recently struggled at times in the passing game but his speed is something Gus Malzahn wants to utilize. He only caught 1 pass against the Gamecocks for 7-yards but the Tigers utilized him in the running game and he gained 102-yards on just 3 carries. Two of his 3 runs resulted in impact plays as he was 1 of 9 different players involved in an impact play against South Carolina.
On this play Auburn has a 1st & 10 from their own 25-yard line. Auburn will run t
Game #7 Statistical Evaluation (South Carolina)
Offensive Report Card:
01) Avg 6-yards per play on 1st down: 9.32 pass
02) Convert at least 40% of 3rd downs: 75.0% pass
03) Avg at least 4.5 yards per rush: 8.40 pass
04) Score on at least 1/3 of possessions: 75.0% pass
05) Keep 3 and out series under 33%: 0.0% pass
06) Average 8.0 yards per pass attempt: 10.40 yards pass
07) Score at least 75% inside red zone: 100.0% pass
08) TD red zone above 60%: 100.0% pass
09) Avg at least 30-
I expected the game might be close at halftime with Auburn pulling away during the second-half, via their run-offense. With basically 3 weeks to prepare for the Auburn defense, I thought we would see some new wrinkles by the Gamecock offense but I did not expect Steve Spurrier to give his team every possible chance to make it a ball game. He took some major risks, when it came to the six fourth-down calls and onside-kick but it almost paid off for what he himself, stated would have been his bigg
In Part II of Moving Forward, here is how the defense breaks down compared to 2013. Once again this is a 2014 mid-season comparison to the 2013 completed season, so the rankings are skewed to a degree. However, it does give us a general idea of how much the defense has appeared to have improved.
The national rankings...
Overall we see an average ranking of No. 33 nationally from the 15 statistical categories, compared to the No. 62 average ranking in 2013. Auburn is currently in the top-25 o
Looking at 15 primary statistical categories, here is how Auburn currently ranks in 2014 compared to 2013. Because the statistical rankings (national) are from the completed 2013 season and one-half of the 2014 season, the comparison is skewed. However it does provide some insight to where Auburn stands through 6 games and the direction they need to go moving forward.
I think most fans will agree the offense has played well for the most part but there is a feeling of a lack of consistency. Rega
Some fans keep commenting on Auburn needing to find an offensive identity, which is puzzling to comprehend. Auburn through 6 games is No. 21 nationally averaging 487-yards per game and No. 15, in scoring-offense, averaging 39 PPG. A team that is struggling to find it's offensive identity looks like Florida or Vanderbilt. They certainly don't look like a team that averages over 480-yards per game and nearly 40 PPG.
To put things in perspective, consider the following. From 1990-2013, only 13 of
Perhaps the biggest key for the Auburn defense this Saturday night will be defending the Gamecock running game. The Gamecocks are currently averaging 220-yards rushing during their last 4 games. Steve Spurrier will lean heavily on Mike Davis to control the tempo of the game and to keep his porous defense off the field. Auburn has drastically improved their run-defense from last season, which was ranked No. 63 nationally, allowing 163-yards per game. This season Auburn is allowing 120-yards per g
The name of the game in pass-offense is placing the defense in situations, which result in mismatches on the field. One of the reasons why Duke Williams has been so successful this season is the ability of Auburn to set him up for success. Though the running game is not playing at the level of last season (very few have), it still remains the primary component opposing teams must control to have defensive success against the Tigers. By lining Williams up in the slot, it is an almost given he wil
With Duke Williams being the primary target 30.5% of the time in the passing game, opposing defenses are now shifting and adjusting their coverages to match up with Williams. This should create opportunities for the other Auburn receivers in the pass-offense. Because Sammie Coates has been slowed by an early-season knee injury, Auburn's coaches have been pushing for other players to step up. One of those options has been Quan Bray. During the last couple of games, Quan Bray has been more involve
One of the reasons for Nick Marshall's drop in completion percentage this season is the lack of short to intermediate pass attempts through 6 games. Last season through Marshall's first 6 games, he attempted 17.4% of his passes beyond 20-yards of the line of scrimmage. This season it is 22.3%. Last season through his first 6 games, 35.7% of his pass attempts were beyond 10-yards of the line of scrimmage. This season it is 43.1%. Though his ratio of impact pass-plays has improved from last season
Through the first 5 games of the season, Auburn made up for their lack of a pass-rush from their front-4, with a variety of blitzes. Against Mississippi State, Auburn's blitzes were always a step behind resulting in only 4 quarterback hurries and 1 sack. Through 6 games the Auburn DL is responsible for only 58.1% of the teams quarterback hurries and 50% of the team's sacks. Last season the DL was responsible for 92.2% of the sacks and 83.6% of the team's quarterback hurries. Angelo Blackson rec
Freshman Braden Smith has seen mop up duty this season as an offensive tackle but the coaching staff has transitioned him to TE just as they did with Shon Coleman last season. It is a great way of getting him on the field during critical moments of the game and for Smith to gain valuable playing-experience. As a tightend he basically becomes a sixth offensive lineman on the field, giving the Tigers the ability to be more physical up front.
On this play Auburn has a 1st & 10 a
With half the regular season in the books, Auburn is currently No. 15 in rushing and No. 4 in the conference. Hoping to add some additional spark to the offense and Auburn's 262-yards rushing per game, Gus Malzahn gave Roc Thomas his first meaningful snaps of the season against Mississippi State. Auburn suffered their first loss of the season but Thomas had 42-yards on 6 carries during his limited role in the Auburn game plan for the Bulldogs. The true freshman currently has 19 carries on the se
Game #6 Statistical Evaluation (Miss State)
Offensive Report Card:
01) Avg 6-yards per play on 1st down: 5.62 fail
02) Convert at least 40% of 3rd downs: 40.0% pass
03) Avg at least 4.5 yards per rush: 5.39 pass
04) Score on at least 1/3 of possessions: 33.3% pass
05) Keep 3 and out series under 33%: 33.3% fail
06) Average 8.0 yards per pass attempt: 5.97 yards fail
07) Score at least 75% inside red zone: 66.7% fail
08) TD red zone above 60%: 33.3% fail
09) Avg at least 30-yards
Coming into the Mississippi State game, Auburn was 3-18 since 1981, when trailing by 14 or more points after the 1st quarter and 6-29-1, when trailing by at least 10. This made the 21-0 deficit after the 1st quarter almost impossible to recover. Gus Malzahn stressed the importance of starting off the game productively, which Auburn failed to do. After the first 4 possessions, Auburn had 85-yards of total offense and zero points. MSU had 142-yards and 21 points. For the remainder of the game Aubu
Last season the Mississippi State defense held Tre Mason and Cameron Artis-Payne to 47-yards on 16 combined carries. The strength of the MSU defense is found in their front-7 this season and it will be interesting to see how Auburn matches up with Bulldogs this Saturday. CAP enters the game averaging over 118-yards rushing per game and it will be a major challenge for Auburn to maintain this average against the No. 11 run-defense in the nation. Of the 24 combined carries by CAP, Mason and Grant
Since 1990 a first down by the Auburn offense has been worth 1.43 points. Since Nick Marshall became the starting quarterback he has accounted for 75 first downs running the football alone. In basically 17 games, Nick Marshall has provided Auburn an extra 7-points per game from just his running ability. He established himself as a major component of the run-offense last season but he's become a better passer in 2014. His dynamic ability at the quarterback position has made the Auburn offense ver
After carrying the ball 10 times during each of the first 2 games, Corey Grant's rush attempts have dropped to an average of 6 per game during Auburn's last 3 games. Though Grant was never intended to be the featured RB, I do believe it is important to have him involved in the offensive game plan. Because of his ability to go the distance from anywhere on the field, he should have at least 10 offensive touches per game. It will be interesting to see what his role will be this week against Missis
If Auburn is to leave Starkville, Mississippi with a victory this Saturday, Sammie Coates will likely play a major role on offense. Off to a slow start this season, Coates had not made his presence known on the field until the LSU game, when he made 4 impact plays during a 41-7 Auburn victory. Hopefully as his knee becomes 100%, he will continue to make big plays in the Auburn pass-offense. Last season the Auburn pass-offense generating 54 impact plays (15+ yards). This season they are on pace f
A few weeks ago, we saw Ricardo Louis score on a short TD pass inside the red zone vs. San Jose State. The play came from a wildcat formation (unbalanced line) with Ricardo Louis lined up in the backfield. He released out in the flat and was open for an easy TD pass from Nick Marshall. Against LSU, Auburn ran the same play but C.J. Uzomah scored this time from a different position. Like most of Malzahn's plays, we often see different options available and this play is no different.
Though Auburn is not running the ball at the same level they did during 2013, it still has been a very productive aspect of the offense. One play Auburn is becoming better at with more reps is the inside trap play. It is a very basic run-play found in almost every offensive playbook because it can be run from basically every offensive formation. The offensive line is not required to move or transition in wide spaces, allowing them to focus on their strength and leverage to make the play work. Fo