One of the recent myths heard over and over the past two Auburn games is that Auburn is running into 8-9 men in the box the majority of the time. The majority of Auburn's offensive sets have a 3-WR look which means the most defenders the defense can place in the box before the snap is 8. In reality, Auburn is facing no more than 7 in the box the majority of the time.
Go back to the 2010 season and the Iron Bowl. Gary Danielson made a comment about how Alabama elected to play Auburn's inside QB power play. He pointed out how LSU waited in their lanes, allowing Auburn to move towards them. Alabama elected to attack the gaps, taking away the comfort zones the Auburn OL had previously enjoyed.
Basically we are seeing the same approach by opposing defenses. Opposing defenses are selling out to attack the gaps and are bringing defenders off the edge. They are also rolling a safety down inside the box to give them an extra defender. The common counter is to pass the ball to the spaces vacated by the defense. Another option is to slide or move to the point of attack, once again giving Auburn the advantage in numbers and creating space for the line to block.
On this play Auburn has a 1st & goal at the Bulldog 5-yard line. Auburn comes out in an unbalanced line and will pull their guards to move or slide the point of attack to the right side. Note the yellow triangle in frame #1. This will be 5 defenders away from the actual point of attack, once the play goes into motion. La. Tech must maintain backside containment on the possible keep by Jeremy Johnson (QB) and Nick Marshall motioning over the backfield.
Melvin Ray does a great job sealing the MLB inside as Brandon Fulse kicks out the DB. Avery Young and Chad Slade create the actual point of attack on the outside, creating a running lane for Cameron Artis-Payne. CAP has 1 defender to beat, cutting back inside of the defender for an easy score. The Bulldogs basically had every defender in the box but Auburn reduced the numbers by moving the point of attack.
IMO, Malzahn might take a few pages from his 2009 and 2011 playbook to assist the running game. Treat the run-offense as if the quarterback is no longer a run-option on the power plays. The Buck-sweep should be called more often to develop more consistency and confidence in the OL. No matter the play or design, it still comes down to executing their blocks. Not just the OL but the receivers and H-backs as well. For now, taking back the "numbers" game is vital too.