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  1. I still don't know how we played so well against Washington only to play so poorly the rest of the season. I would also argue our 2018 offense was worse than a typical post-2014 Malzahn offense. We went very conservative in both the running and passing game. In 2018 we had a bad offensive line, and we ran far too many standard inside zone running plays, which our OL simply could not execute. We had some RPO plays which were an inside zone run combined with quick hitch or bubble screen, which put the pass play defender in conflict, but did not put a run play defender in conflict, which meant the line was blocking the same as a standard inside zone, and they simply did a poor job at it. Had we dusted off some of those traditional Malzahn power running plays, we might have had some more success. 2018 was a strange season. It reminded me of 2015.
  2. The thing about the "Miracle in Jordan Hare" 2013 UGA game was earlier Ricardo Louis ran into somebody in the backfield, causing us to have to punt. There was plenty of bad luck in the game on Auburn's side to go with the good luck, and plenty of good luck on the UGA side to go with their bad luck.
  3. I think everyone watching the game except for the Auburn coaching staff was expecting a fake punt. Perhaps because it was FSU, and many of us recall the days of Bobby Bowden who often pulled trick plays. My complaint is we did not defensively anticipate FSU's halftime adjustments. They went to short drop, quick passing game mainly over the middle.
  4. I want to add this link to explain my comment above that CCL called a poor game against LSU. This article about NFL passing defenses starts with numbers analysis, but then goes in depth on LSU's Dave Aranda's "Creeper" defense. Reading this explained what I saw in the LSU game. Auburn, terrified of an LSU blitz, went maximum protection keeping in some cases, a tight-end, the H-Back, and the RB in pass protection (8 total players in pass protection), and only sending two receivers on routes. In other cases we went with 7 in pass protection and sent three receivers on routes. In many of those cases, LSU dropped out of a blitz, and dropped most of its defenders into coverage. It did occasionally rush 5, but mostly rushed 4. Our max-protect was just that. There was no read for the pass protectors to see if there was no defender coming, and if not go out on a route. And in many cases, the result was Stidham just had to throw the ball away, or perhaps LSU got to him with 5-man rush against our 7 or 8 pass protectors. CCL read Kirby Smart's UGA defense like a cheap novel and ate him alive (Gary Danielson's chalkboarding UGA's blitz from the defenses right side, saying "here it comes", then AU dials up the screen pass to KJ to the offenses left side--how embarrassing that must have been to Smart). But to put it simply, Aranda is perhaps the most innovative defensive coach since Saban. We need a plan to deal with this. The next big thing in defense could end the NFL's 'pass rush v. coverage' debate
  5. The idea of an offensive minded coach calling offensive plays, or a defensive minded coach calling defenses is not unusual. Sure, it can be called "micromanaging". But it also can be called smart, when it works. Spurrier comes to mind on offense, Pruitt yelling to the DB what to look for at last year's AU game was held up as an example of good coaching. I don't know what has gone wrong over the years at AU. Chip Lindsey introduced some plays which did not work well, and introduced some very innovative plays as well (see below). He called some exceptional games (first 2017 UGA meeting) and some poor games (2018 LSU). My hope is CGM and CKD will build a playbook which gives us the greatest chance of success, analyze opposing defenses well (as well as CCL did with UGA's defense in the first 2017 meeting), and CGM makes his play calls with reason and without ego. I was rewatching the 2017 UGA game, and saw this RPO. It builds off of the Inside Zone Read Option, with a back side read, with the QB outside run replaced with the swing pass to the jet sweep back. Or you could describe it as an Outsize Zone Read Option with a front side read, but instead of the inside running option being the QB, and the outside running option being a mesh handoff, the inside option is the RB, and the outside running option is a swing pass to the jet sweep back. Either way it pressures both the inside and the edge, and puts an edge defender in conflict. This play is dangerous, because if mistimed or misread, it can lead to a Pick 6 by the edge defender, or if the ball is pulled and the the pass is defended, it leaves the QB to eat the ball. But if well executed, and if the WRs block well, it can easily pick up a good chunk of yardage. Also, if it is run a few times with modest success, it pulls the edge defender away from the inside run by forcing hesitation. All without putting the QB at risk as a ball carrier. All in all, this is a very clever play. The pass is behind the line of scrimmage, and happens immediately, so there is no risk of a downfield lineman, even under NFL rules. The one downside is since the QB is not a running threat, it is an 11 defenders on 10 offensive players situation.
  6. This is eerily similar to the Washington game to start the 2018 season. Washington had many strengths, and indeed put many into the NFL draft last year, but was at best an equal match to us, and we simply had a better game plan. Our DL will be one of the top DLs in the country, if not the best. We have both Derick Brown and Marlin Davidson coming back. Yes, there are questions on depth on the interior line, and questions about the edge (Buck). However, Brown and Davidson should be better than last year. As should every other returning player. I actually think the difference could be in our pass-rushing packages where we are likely to put Coe on the inside along with Brown and Davidson, along with either Moultry, Bryant, or Jibunor on the edge to put our four best pass rushers on the field at the same time. As Kevin Steele put it before the Washington game: "Offensive linemen wake up from a nightmare looking and seeing 5, 3! Can’t sleep on the plane!" 5 and 3 are still here, and PAC-12 OLs are still going to have nightmares.
  7. My favorite Jeff Burger play was from the 1986 Tennessee game. The year prior, Tennessee beat Auburn pretty badly in Knoxville. We were out for revenge, and were beating UTK handily. We drove down to the Tennessee 1-yard line with only a few seconds remaining. Burger's roommate, Stacy Searles, said something like "If you take a knee, I will beat your butt" to Burger in the huddle. Burger took the snap, and did not take a knee. Instead he kind of shuffled around just behind the line. UTK's defense just stopped, perhaps thinking Burger had taken a knee. Searles could be seen pointing to the endzone and yelling at Burger. There was a giant hole in the line, and Burger sprinted in the endzone for another touchdown. Pat Dye was not pleased.
  8. I think naming the press box in Plainsman Park after Rod would be a good idea. He had more time in that press box than any other, and he continued to call baseball even after taking over football and basketball.
  9. I mean we travel farther to Arlington than we did to Atlanta, and Oregon has to travel less to Arlington than Washington did to Atlanta. I recall Washington's coach commenting on the travel distance difference between Washington and Auburn.
  10. I don't disagree. But I think it is much easier to replace a skilled position or DLs (who do a lot of rotating) than replacing OLs. In hindsight it kind of makes sense. We had a track record over the prior few years of OL struggles. The second thing is Stidham struggled in 2017 when his OL struggled early in the season, and when his best blocking RB, Kerryon Johnson, was injured late in the season. Stidham without confidence in his protection was a different QB in 2017 than with protection. In 2018 is protection was a problem most of the season, and his confidence struggled. Again, in hindsight, this all makes sense. I have a lot more confidence in our OL this year. They were playing better late in the year, and have had an off season to improve.
  11. Those Oregon 2010 comparisons are interesting. Oregon was a very different program back then. A big, hulking OL and small, agile WRs, RBs, and QBs with a maddening Chip Kelly option based offense that made Gus Malzahn "Fast" seem slow. Cam was playing hurt the whole game with a back injury. As for the belief a "miracle run" by Dyer won the game, we had to slow down and eat up the clock after that. And Dyer popped off another big run and almost scored. We only needed a field goal, so even if Dyer had been called down on the miracle run, we likely would have gotten well within field goal range with the time that was left. The Ducks are the favorite to win the Pac-12 this year. This seems so much like the 2018 game against Washington, who was the Pac-12 preseason favorite last year. The biggest differences I see are the Ducks to not have to travel as far, and we have to travel farther. Oregon will likely be ranked around #10 to #12, and we will likely be ranked around #16 or #17. My guess is Oregon will be a slight favorite. Obviously, the big battles will be our DL vs. the Duck's OL, and our secondary vs. the Oregon WRs. On our offense I think it will be our OL vs. the Duck's DL, and the overall performance of our QB(s). I might go a little deeper and say our Buck's performance will be critical, and our RB performance will be critical.
  12. When you look at 2018, you first have to look at 2017. We came off 2017 with early O-Line struggles followed by a solid O-Line after some personnel shuffling. We lost four of five starters on that O-Line. We also lost a very good running back in K.J. Given our O-Line struggles over the previous few years, no one should have predicted Auburn to be wildly successful, especially not running the ball in 2018. That said, we did well against Washington, who was a stacked team. Washington had 8 players drafted, including 5 defensive players. Washington was tied for 3rd as the school with the most draft picks. I am not sure why, in hindsight, we apparently over-performed against Washington. Washington struggled throughout the year, so perhaps they had weaknesses outside of their drafted standouts. Perhaps Washington was not prepared. Perhaps we were well prepared. I think the Oregon game will be a lot like the Washington game. I think playing Washington last year in the opener will help with those players who were part of the preparation last year. I do think our defense will be even better than last year, despite new starters at LB. I also think our O-Line will be a strength. We have talent at RB and WR. The only standout question is QB. Of course, that is huge. But if our D can keep us in games, we have the potential to have a strong season.
  13. I agree with the sentiment, but I believe it applies to most coaches, not just CGM. When a new coach comes in, he has nothing to lose. After a few years, he has everything to lose. They usually become conservative, and the risk level tends to drop. If the pressure increases, some coaches will try to move back to a higher risk/reward.
  14. I think it will narrow down to Gatewood and Nix at the end of Spring, but will be a whole new competition between them in fall practice. I could see us playing both a fair amount in the early games. Ultimately I think it will come down to which QB makes the fewer number of mistakes (interceptions, fumbles, incorrect reads, etc.), rather than particular skill.
  15. Saban has some personal goal in his head. I truly believe Saban thought he would win the NC at Bama in the 2013 season (his 4th at Bama and 5th overall), then go to Texas and win two or three more, making Saban the greatest coach in college football history, and the only coach to win NCs at at least three schools. Once the plan for him to go to Texas fell apart, and it was clear he would serve out his college coaching career at Bama, Saban created some new goal to achieve at Bama. Saban has 6 NCs. He has tied Bryant's 6 NCs. Saban's next NC will beat Bryant overall and tie Bryant's Alabama record. In theory he then becomes the greatest coach in college football history. But he will only be equal to the Bear. How can you be the greatest overall if you are merely tied for the lead at one place. However, if Saban wins two more NCs he will beat Bryant's Alabama record and be not only the greatest college football coach overall, but also the greatest ever at Alabama. So my gut says that is Saban's goal. Two more NCs, then ride off into the sunset. Something to think about. With the retirement of Bill Snyder, Saban is the oldest football coach in the Power5. While he may want to work forever, his age will become a drain in a few years, just like it did for Bobby Bowden, Joe Paterno, and Bill Snyder.