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  1. Post Season Numbers & Thoughts: During the first 7 games of the season the Auburn defense allowed 5.88 yards per play during the first-half and 4.21 yards per play during the second-half. During the final 6 games of the season, the Auburn defense allowed 5.97 yards per play during the first-half and 6.76 yards per play during the second-half. During the first 7 games of the season, 49.0% of the snaps defended by the Auburn defense during the first-half, went for 2-yards or less. It increased to 55.6% during the second half of games. During the last 6 games of the season, 43.7% of the snaps defended by the Auburn defense during the first-half, went for 2-yards or less. It decreased to 42.9% during the second half. The top-5 play-makers on offense this season based on impact-plays were: Cameron Artis Payne (26), Duke Williams (22), Nick Marshall (20), Sammie Coates (14) and Quan Bray (12). Injuries to Williams and Coates took away from Auburn's explosiveness this season. During the first 6 games of the season, Nick Marshall averaged 82.0 yards rushing per game on 6.6 yards per attempt. During the final 7 games of the season, Marshall averaged only 43.7 yards per rush on 3.9 yards per carry. The read-option was nowhere close to last season. During the final 7 games of the 2013 season, Marshall & Mason averaged 257.6 YPG on 6.09 YPC. During the final 7 games of 2014, Marshall & CAP combined for 179.3 YPG on 4.92 YPC. Ricardo Louis is a player to watch for in 2015. With the departure of Sammie Coates, Auburn will need him to become a consistent playmaker. During the first 6 games of the season, Louis had 15 offensive touches for 118-yards. During the final 7 games of the season, Louis had 22 offensive touches for 353-yards. Of his 9 impact plays on the season, 7 came during the second-half of the season. Duke Williams was No. 12 nationally in generating pass-receptions of 15-yards or more and Sammie Coates was No. 21. The Auburn offense simply wasn't the same without both healthy and on the field together. During Auburn's 8 victories this season, the Tigers compiled a pass-rating of 157.1 on first-down and only 117.2 during their 5 defeats. From 1992-2014 Auburn has compiled a pass-rating of 136.0 on first-down and was only 134.9 in 2014. Of Auburn's 332 passes on the season, only 96 (28.6%) came on first down, which was dead last nationally. The national average was 37.9%, which means Nick Marshall was forced to throw more often when the opponent wanted him to, rather than when Malzahn wanted him to throw. I expect that percentage to change drastically with Jeremy Johnson at quarterback. In terms of the game day report cards, the Auburn offense had a passing grade in 11 of 13 games, the defense 6 in 13 games and special teams, 7 of 13 games. Last season the offense had a passing grade in 12 of 14 games, the defense 7 of 14 games and special teams 13 of 14 games. Overall the offense improved to 74.9% from 74.6% in 2013. The defense dropped to 47.7% from 49.3% in 2013 and special teams took the biggest dive to 53.4% from 71.7% in 2013. During the last 3 games of the season Auburn allowed 3.93 yards per rush during the first-half and 7.58 yards per attempt during the second-half. How vital are impact plays? During Auburn's 73 scoring drives this season, 63 involved at least 1 play of 15-yards or more during the possession. Last season the Auburn defense registered 32 sacks and 13 interceptions. This season despite only 20 sacks, Auburn intercepted 22 passes. One can only imagine how many picks Auburn could have totaled in 2014 with a more consistent pass-rush. During the first 5 games of the season, the Auburn defense forced a "3 & out", 45 percent of the time. During the final 8 games of the season, it dropped to only 18 percent. During the first 5 games of the season, the Auburn defense allowed 24-yards per possession and a TD every 37.2 snaps. During the final 8 games of the season, the defense allowed 36-yards per possession and a TD every 16.6 snaps defended. During the first 7 games of the season, Auburn scored 75 points from their opponent's turnovers. During the final 6 games of the season, Auburn scored only 24 points off of turnovers. Rarely does a player find immediate success after making a position change at the collegiate level. Johnathan "Rudy" Ford moved to safety this season, finishing the year as Auburn's leading tackler with 93 stops. He also had 2.5 tackles for loss, 3 interceptions and 1 forced-fumble. Look for him to continue to grow into his position under Will Muschamp. Rudy Ford was No. 14 in the SEC with 7.15 tackles per game. Cassanova McKinzy was No. 16 and Kris Frost was No. 17. McKinzy was also No. 14 in the SEC with 11 tackles for loss. Fifteen SEC defensive linemen had more tackles for loss than Auburn's leader, Montravius Adams (8). Cameron Artis-Payne had some major shoes to fill, replacing Tre Mason. The senior RB, responded with an All-SEC season, leading the conference in rushing and No. 2 in rushing TD's. CAP's 123.7 yards per game was the 5th best average in school history. Cameron Artis-Payne was No. 15 nationally in yards per game. Quarterback Nick Marshall improved his passer-rating from 143.2 in 2013 to 150.8. His 150.8 rating is the 4th highest rated performance among the 37 Auburn quarterbacks to attempt at least 150 passes during a season. His TD ratio of 1 every 14.6 attempts was 5th best in school history. Marshall was No. 33 in pass-efficiency during 2013, improving to No. 15 his senior year. The Auburn offense finished No. 13 in run-offense and No. 9 in pass-efficiency offense. The Tigers were No. 17 in total-offense and No. 26 in scoring-offense. Based on yards per game, yards per play, points per game, TD ratio and strength of schedule, the 2014 Auburn offense is No. 3 among the past 60 Auburn offensive units. The 2010 offense was No. 1 with a 213.5 rating, the 2013 offense was No. 2 with a 209.9 rating and the 2014 unit had a rating of 199.6. From 1970-2014, Auburn has compiled a record of 204-6-0, when scoring at least 30 points during regulation. Four of the 6 losses have come during the past 2 seasons. From 2009-2014 (79 games), Auburn has allowed 26 PPG, 398.3 YPG and 163.2 yards rushing per game. Of those 79 games, it includes 26 losses, where Auburn allowed 36 PPG, 446.5 YPG and 222.6 yards rushing per game. The second installment of Will Muschamp's defense cannot start soon enough. The 2014 season marks the 12th time Auburn has closed a season with only 1 win during their last 5 games of the season since 1950. The Auburn coaching staff has their work cut out for them as Auburn followed up the previous 11 seasons with a win percentage of .622 the following year. Looking at only FBS competition, Auburn's 2014 schedule ended up being the 6th most difficult in school history, minus the result of the "Auburn" game. 10 of Auburn's 13 opponents this season (76.9%) were FBS programs that finished the season with a winning record. It was the 3rd highest percentage of winning opponents faced during a season from 1950-2014. The 1983 team holds the highest percentage (83.3%). So what happened to the 2014 Auburn defense? During the first 5 games of the season, Auburn faced opponents that averaged 402.0 YPG, averaging 30.4 PPG. The Auburn defense held them to 24% below their yardage average and 53% below their scoring average. During their last 7 FBS games, Auburn faced offenses that averaged 463.3 YPG, while scoring 35.1 PPG. Auburn allowed those 7 teams to gain 5.5% more yardage than their average, while scoring 7.7% more than the opponent's average. In a nutshell, the competition was better during the second-half of the season, but Auburn's production percentages should not have collapsed as much as it did. Time to move onto 2015 and Happy New Year!
  2. From 1997-2014, the Auburn defense has held their opponent to 11.3% below the opponent's seasonal average in yardage per game. From 2009-2014, the Auburn defense has held their opponent to 2.9% below their seasonal average. During the Will Muschamp era (2006-2007), the Auburn defense held their opponent to 20.3% below the opponent's season average. During Will Muschamp's final season at Auburn, the Tiger defense had the opponent to 24.4% below the opponent's season average in yardage per game. This was the 2nd best performance by an Auburn defense from 1997-2014. From 1997-2014, Auburn held their opponent to 26.4% below the opponent's scoring average for the season. From 2009-2014, Auburn held their opponent to 13.9% below the opponent's scoring average for the season. With Will Muschamp as Auburn's defensive coordinator, the Tigers held their opponent to 43.7% below the opponent's scoring average. Will Muschamp's final Auburn defense held their opponent to 45.5% below the opponent's scoring average, the second best performance by an Auburn defense from 1997-2014. During Muschamp's tenure as Auburn's defensive coordinator, the Tigers faced 9 teams that average over 400-yards per game. Those 9 teams averaged 430-yards per game but were held to an average of 315-yards per game against Auburn. During Muschamp's tenure as Auburn's defensive coordinator, the Tigers faced 11 teams that average over 30-points per game. Those 11 teams average 34.8 points per game but were held to an average of 17.7 points per game against Auburn. From 1992-2014, the Auburn defense held their opponent to 17.9% below the opponent's rushing average. From 2009-2014, the Auburn defense held their opponent to 8.4% below the opponent's rushing average. During Muschamp's tenure as Auburn's defensive coordinator, the Auburn defense held their opponent to 19.3% below the opponent's rushing average. His 2007 defense held the opponent to 26.1% below the opponent's rushing average. From 1992-2004, the Auburn pass-defense held their opponent to a pass-efficiency average of 117.5. From 2009-2014, the Auburn pass-defense held their opponent to a pass-efficiency average of 130.3. Will Muschamp's pass-defense at Auburn held their opponent to a pass-efficiency average of 109.4. His 2007 pass-defense allowed a pass-rating of 104.3, the 4th best pass-defense from 1992-2014. War Eagle and Welcome Back Coach Muschamp!
  3. Depending on pending injuries or weather, I would expect the Auburn offense to play well against Wisconsin. Gus Malzahn has coached in 10 combined Bowl games and Conference Championships at the collegiate level. During those 10 games, his offense averaged 498.6 YPG and 39.9 PPG. His teams went 7-3 during those 10 outings. This includes 6 games at Auburn, where his offense averaged 518.8 YPG and 41.5 PPG. This includes a 5-1 mark at Auburn. Auburn will check in with Nick Marshall at QB, CAP at RB, along with Sammie Coates, Duke Williams and Quan Bray at WR. All five players will likely be playing their last game as an Auburn Tiger, motivated to put on a show one last time, wearing the orange and blue. This doesn't include the services of Chad Slade, Reese Dismukes, CJ Uzomah, Brandon Fulse and Corey Grant, who will also want to go out with a bang. During the last 26 games, the Auburn offense has averaged 496-yards and 38 PPG, along with 296-yards rushing per game. This also includes 80 offensive plays of 30+ yards and 253 plays of 15+ yards.
  4. The Wisconsin defense has been very solid all year up until the B10 Championship. Despite their major beat down at the hands of the Buckeyes, the Badger defense is still No. 4 in total-defense. Some of their success on defense has to do with the caliber of offenses Wisconsin faced but they did hold their opponent to 23 percent below their yardage average for the season. One area Auburn should be able to exploit is the Badger pass-defense. The Wisconsin pass-defense is No. 108 nationally allowing big pass-plays (25+) every 12.4 pass attempts. The Auburn pass-offense is No. 7 nationally in generating big pass-plays every 9.7 pass attempts. The play... Against Alabama, Auburn faced a very good defense that was exceptional against the run. Gus Malzahn's plan of attack was to challenge the UAT secondary deep, which often played man-coverage. The plan was solid and the Auburn offense did a very good job executing the game plan. Nick Marshall was 6 of 9, throwing the ball deep for 272-yards and 2 touchdowns. On this play Auburn faces a 2nd & 12 from the UAT 34-yd line. Auburn comes out in a 4-WR with Sammie Coates and Duke Williams split on the boundary side. Nick Marshall will play-action with Cameron Artis-Payne, while reading the boundary safety. Coates and Williams break off the line, running vertical routes. Williams will cut inside on a deep square-in, while Coates runs a fly-route. The boundary safety commits to Williams over the middle, leaving Coates 1 on 1 with the corner. Marshall delivers a perfectly thrown ball that Coates is able to haul in for the touchdown. Play #2: This is basically the same play, though circumstances are different. Auburn faces a 2nd & 3 from their own 32-yard line with under 1:30 remaining in the first-half. Once again Auburn comes out in a 4-WR set with Coates and Williams aligned to the boundary side. At the snap, the two WR's run vertical routes with the boundary safety committing to the deep pass over the middle (Williams). Once again, Sammie Coates has the corner beat 1 on 1 and Marshall hangs a deep ball that Coates is able to run under for the touchdown.
  5. Game #12 Statistical Evaluation (Alabama Game) Offensive Report Card: 01) Avg 6-yards per play on 1st down: [5.64] fail 02) Convert at least 40% of 3rd downs: [47.4%] pass 03) Avg at least 4.5 yards per rush: [3.72] fail 04) Score on at least 1/3 of possessions: [61.5%] pass 05) Keep 3 and out series under 33%: [15.4%] pass 06) Average 8.0 yards per pass attempt: [10.6 yds] pass 07) Score at least 75% inside red zone: [87.5%] pass 08) TD red zone above 60%: [25.0%] fail 09) Avg at least 30-yards per possession: [45.0 yds] pass 10) 40% of offensive snaps part of scoring drives: [75.3%] pass 11) TD / Turnover ratio above 1.6: [4 TD’s / 2] pass 12) TD ratio of at least 1 every 17 snaps: [22.2] fail 13) At least 8 impact plays: [11] pass 14) At least 2 big plays: [6] pass 15) Pass rating of at least 125.0: [170.2] pass * Red Zone offense ended up being the difference in the game but 44 points and over 600-yards in offense should always result in a victory. * Nick Marshall was a baller tonight, setting a new school record in passing yardage against the No. 1 ranked team in the country. * I wish there was a way of keeping Duke Williams for his senior year. He was a warrior tonight. Score: 11 of 15 (73.3%) Pass Defensive Report Card: 01) Avg under 6-yards per play on 1st down: [11.0] fail 02) Convert below 35% of 3rd downs: [55.6%] fail 03) Avg at least 4.0 yards per rush: [6.68] fail 04) Score below 1/3 of possessions: [61.5%] fail 05) Keep 3 and out series above 33%: [23.1%] fail 06) Average below 7.5 yards per pass attempt: [11.6 yds] fail 07) Score below 75% inside red zone: [100.0%] fail 08) TD red zone below 60%: [100.0%] fail 09) Avg under 30-yards per possession: [38.5 yds] fail 10) Less than 40% of offensive snaps part of scoring drives: [77.0%] fail 11) TD / Turnover ratio below 1.6: [8 TD’s / 3 turnovers] fail 12) TD ratio of at least 1 every 30 snaps: [7.6] fail 13) Less than 8 impact plays: [14] fail 14) No more than 2 big plays allowed: [3] fail 15) Pass rating below 125.0: [197.8] fail Score: 0 of 15 (0.0%) fail * Since 1961 Auburn is 45-2 with at least 540-yards in total offense and both losses were suffered this year. Since 1961 Auburn is 134-4, when scoring 38 points during regulation. Two of those losses occurred this season. This was the first time in school history Auburn lost a game after scoring at least 40 points during regulation. Special Teams Report Card: 1) Punt Average (Above 41.3): [41.0] 0 inside 20 (fail) 2) Punt Return Defense (Below 7.8 YPR): [12.0] fail 3) Punt Return Offense (Above 9.8 YPR): [0.0] fail 4) Kick-Return Defense (Below 21.2 YPR): [15.8] pass 5) Kick-Return Offense (Above 22.3 YPR): [20.8] fail 6) PAT’s (100%): [4 of 4] pass 7) FG Pct (75% or above): [100.0%] pass Score: 3 of 7 (42.9%) fail * Keep in mind that 50% is a passing score. War Eagle!
  6. Post game Numbers & Thoughts: Prior to the 2014 Iron Bowl, Auburn had passed for a combined 446-yards during their last 4 meetings against the Tide. Nick Marshall passed for 456-yards last night. Prior to last night Alabama had allowed only 2.6 trips per game inside their red zone. Auburn had 8 trips last night but only scored 2 TD's. Alabama was No. 7 nationally in TD percentage allowed inside the RZ. Though Auburn had opportunities to score more points, their 27 points scored inside the RZ, far exceeded the 12.0 PPG Alabama had allowed inside the RZ prior to last night's game. The 630-yards gained against Alabama last night was the 4th most yards gained by an Auburn offense in conference play. It was the most ever gained against Alabama by Auburn and the most yardage gained by an Auburn offense against a team ranked No. 1. Auburn is now 32-2 since 1960, when gaining at least 500-yards against a conference opponent during regulation. Both losses came this season. Auburn has averaged 502-yards and 37 PPG in conference play during 17 games as Gus Malzahn as the head coach. Despite the record-setting offensive production, Auburn is 12-5 in those games, primarily because the defense has surrendered an average of 453-yards and 31 PPG. During the previous 17 conference games before Malzahn became head coach, Auburn averaged 287-yards and 17 PPG on offense, while the defense allowed 417-yards and 31 PPG. Cameron Artis-Payne has 1482-yards rushing on the season, fighting for every inch he could muster last night against Alabama. He finished the game with 77-yards on 25 carries. I have watched 36 Iron Bowls during my lifetime and I've never witnessed an Auburn offense attack an Alabama defense the way I saw last night. During the 7 previous Iron Bowls (2007-2013) with Nick Saban as the head coach, Auburn's offense had a combined total of 8 plays of 30-yards or more combined. The most impact plays during any of those games was 7. Last night Auburn had 11 impact plays of which 6 went for over 30-yards. During Auburn's last 6 conference games, the opponent has averaged 483-yards and 39 PPG, scoring a TD every 14 plays defended. Since 1992 Auburn is 92-2, when the offense scores on at least 42 percent of their offensive possessions. The two losses both occurred this season. Sammie Coates 206-yards in receiving was 5th best in school history and the most receiving yardage an Auburn player has ever recorded against Alabama. Since 1986 Auburn has faced 30 opponents ranked in the top-5. Nick Marshall has produced the top-4 passing performances based on efficiency-rating during those games. During the last 7 games the Auburn offense had a passing-grade 5 times, special teams 3 times and defense 1 time. With Gus Malzahn directing the Auburn offense, the Tigers have averaged 435-yards and 32 PPG during 42 conference games. The defense during that same time period has allowed 409-yards and 29 PPG. Prior to last night, the most yardage gained by an Auburn offense against a top-10 defense was 451-yards. Auburn shattered that mark with 630-yards. Auburn is now 10-3 against top-10 defenses, when gaining at least 350-yards per game since 1981 and 2 of those losses have come during the past 2 seasons. Of Duke Williams 45 receptions on the year, 37 have resulted in an Auburn first down or touchdown. Sammie Coates has 30 receptions on the year and 25 have resulted in a first down or touchdown. Alabama came into the game with the No. 5 rated defense (total-defense), allowing 283 yards per game. Auburn's 620-yards was nearly 123 percent more yardage than Alabama had allowed per game. The Crimson Tide has now dropped to No. 11 in total-defense. Prior to last night Auburn had never lost to Alabama after generating at least 350-yards in offense (10-0). Despite gaining over 600-yards, Auburn still lost by 11 points. Auburn is now 111-1 from 1951-2014, when scoring 40 points or more during regulation. I thought the entire team played with passion and desire last night. There was no indication a "team" going through the motions and no sign of quit. Some will say they saw some players quit last night but I disagree. There is a big difference between quitting and a player working through frustration. Last night I saw an offense confident in their game plan, working hard to execute it to the best of their ability. They believed in their game plan and coaches and became stronger after every successful play. I saw a defense that played hard and with passion early on but often looked lost and confused. It is difficult to play with confidence and passion, when you're lost. Speaking of a lack of confidence and being confused. During the first 30 snaps on defense, Auburn allowed 196-yards and 20 points. Had they maintained that pace for the remainder of the game, Auburn would have won. During the next 30 snaps defended, Auburn allowed 345-yards and 35 points. During the first half Auburn's defense allowed 6 impact plays for 105-yards. During the second-half, they surrendered 8 impact plays for 260-yards. It was a perfect example of a house of cards crumbling to the table, once the foundation had been breached. War Eagle!
  7. Quick Start in the Iron Bowl... From 1981-2013, Auburn is 4-10 in the Iron Bowl, when trailing after the first quarter and 14-5, when they don't. Since Gus Malzahn has coached the Auburn offense, the Tigers are 9-7, when trailing at the end of the first quarter and 41-8, when not. During the first 36 quarters of this football season, Auburn was held scoreless in only 3 quarters. During the last 8 quarters, they have been held scoreless in 4. This offensive funk needs to come to a stop against Alabama. ________________________________________________________________________ During the last 40 meetings against Alabama, Auburn has eclipsed 200-yards rushing only 7 times, compiling a 5-2 record, when doing so. Only 1 of those 200-yard rushing performances have come against Nick Saban's Alabama teams. The Tigers have averaged only 135.2 yards rushing per game against Alabama (2007-2013), including an average of 73.6 yards rushing from Auburn's leading rusher at the RB position. This year looks to be another major challenge for Auburn to run the football against the Tide.One of the reasons why Auburn had success running the football last season was Alabama wasn't as dominant on first-down run-defense. _________________________________________________________________________ During the last 50 Iron Bowls, Auburn has a pass rating of just 103.6. During the games AU had a pass rating of at least 130 on at least 10 pass attempts, the Tigers are 9-1. ___________________________________________________________________ An Auburn record that will likely stand for awhile is Bo Jackson's 4 consecutive 100-yard rushing games against Alabama (1982-1985). Jackson averaged 7.0 yards per rush against the Tide. Roc Thomas might have the opportunity to start the next run this Saturday night. ___________________________________________________________________ From 2008-2014, Alabama has only been defeated 10 times and of those 10 losses, 6 were by 6-points or less. The winner averaged 222-yards passing, completing 68% of their passes for an average of 8.5 yards per attempt. They also threw for a combined total of 24 TD passes and only 4 interceptions against the Tide defense. On defense the winner held Alabama to an average of 110.7 yards rushing for 3.3 yards per rush. During this same time period (2008-2014) Auburn is 19-1, when the complete at least 60% of their passes for at least 8-yards per attempt, while holding their opponent to under 150-yards rushing. Auburn is 7-2 vs. Alabama since 1981, when they complete at least 60% of their passes. Nick Marshall needs to play well and the Auburn front-7 needs to play well against the run. ___________________________________________________________________ Josh Thompson is the last Auburn DL to lead the team in tackles during a single game with at least 10 tackles. He had 12 stops against Alabama in 2007. _________________________________________________________________________ During the last 50 Iron Bowls, Auburn is 10-0 with at least 350-yards in total offense. _________________________________________________________________________ During the last 7 Iron Bowls, Auburn averaged 5.71 yards per play on first down during their 3 victories and only 3.80 yards per play during their 4 losses. Playing well on first down will be essential. _________________________________________________________________________ Since 1981 the team with the most rushing yardage at the end of the game is 27-6 in the Iron Bowl. Auburn has averaged 284-yards rushing in conference play, while allowing 178-yards on defense. Alabama has averaged 167-yards in conference play, while allowing 115-yards on defense. _________________________________________________________________________ During the last 20 Iron Bowls, the team that won the first-down battle in yards per play is 15-5 in the series. _________________________________________________________________________ Since 1981 Auburn is 8-2, when they are able to run the ball at least 64 percent of the time on first down and 4-8, when they don't.
  8. Over the years I have noticed a trend in many of the Auburn seasons that were special. Most of them were followed up by average or slightly above average seasons. Now there are numerous factors involved such as the loss of key starters, the loss of a large senior class or a quality senior class. A noticeable trend I picked up on was the number of close ball games during the special season. If there were at least 5 close games during the special season, the odds of a major fall off the following year increased. Check out the numbers... 1972 (10-1) The Tigers were 5-0 in games decided by 7-points that year. They went 6-6 the next year. 1983 (11-1) The Tigers were 5-0 in close games and went 9-4 the following year. 1997 (10-3) The Tigers were 4-1 in close games and went 3-8 the following year. 2006 (11-2) The Tigers were 5-0 in close games and went 9-4 the following year. 2010 (14-0) The Tigers were 6-0 in close games and went 8-5 the following year. 2013 (12-2) The Tigers were 5-1 in close games and are currently 8-3 this year. Of the six teams listed above, 4 of them lost their starting quarterback the following year. The above teams competed in 77 games with 32 being decided by 7-points or less (41.5%). The Tigers were 30-2 during the close games. The follow up teams combined for a record of 43-30 (.589). Now look at other 10-win seasons that did not involve as many close games... 1986 (10-2) 1-2 in close games and went 9-1-2 the following year. 1987 (9-1-2) 0-0-2 in close games and went 10-2 the following year. 1988 (10-2) 1-2 in close games and went 10-2 the following year. 1989 (10-2) 2-1 in close games and went 8-3-1 the following year. 1993 (11-0) 3-0 in close games and went 9-1-1 the following year. 2004 (13-0) 2-0 in close games and went 9-3 the following year. Only 16 close games combined out of 72 (22.2%) followed by a better follow up season. The follow up teams combined for a record of 55-12-4 (.803). As great as the 2010 and 2013 seasons were, these teams were not "complete" teams like the 2004 squad. The 2004 team was solid in every phase of the game, which cannot be said about 2010 and 2013. The 2010 and 2013 teams were talented enough to get by in many close games but paid the price the following seasons with the loss of several key starters. The 2004 team was more soundly built, which prevented them from being involved in too many close games. The carry over from this sound structure, gave them a better chance of competing the following year. There were personnel losses to overcome like any other year but the nucleus was present for the 2005 squad to be competitive. We witnessed this same process more extensively under Pat Dye. His run from 1982-1989 was an indicator of a sound program than a few isolated special seasons. I touched on this after the 2013 season was completed. Gus Malzahn and his staff did a great job of putting together a team that was very competitive but this isn't the same as building a competitive program. The 2013 team had enough key contributors across the board to allow them to be competitive that year. Take some of those contributors away the following year and what happens? Did Auburn find someone to replace Greg Robinson, Dee Ford, Tre Mason, Chris Davis and Jay Prosch? Cameron Artis-Payne was the closest. What about the kickers from 2013? Special teams really went south in 2014, which had something to do with the kicker and punter. To his credit, Daniel Carlson has been solid this season but punting has been a different story. Add to the mix, the loss of Carl Lawson and Alex Kozan before the 2014 season started and Auburn was facing key personnel obstacles. Building a program that allows you to replace actual "star" talent on the field and not just on recruiting paper is two different things. This takes more time, which is why we as fans should be patient in this regard. The 2013 team had enough front-line players to compete with anyone but the depth and supporting cast was a different story, which we can clearly see in 2014. I'm not advocating that Gus Malzahn has what it takes to build a sound "program" but in fairness, it is way too early to say that he cannot. After Pat Dye went 11-1 in 1983, he followed up with two 4-loss seasons, before he went on his 1986-1989 run. Malzahn deserves the same opportunity to build his program.
  9. Game #11 Statistical Evaluation (Samford Game) Offensive Report Card: 01) Avg 6-yards per play on 1st down: [7.13] pass 02) Convert at least 40% of 3rd downs: [50.0%] pass 03) Avg at least 4.5 yards per rush: [4.25] fail 04) Score on at least 1/3 of possessions: [41.7%] pass 05) Keep 3 and out series under 33%: [33.3%] fail 06) Average 8.0 yards per pass attempt: [8.45 yds] pass 07) Score at least 75% inside red zone: [80.0%] pass 08) TD red zone above 60%: [60.0%] fail 09) Avg at least 30-yards per possession: [32.2 yds] pass 10) 40% of offensive snaps part of scoring drives: [52.2%] pass 11) TD / Turnover ratio above 1.6: [4 TD’s / 1] pass 12) TD ratio of at least 1 every 17 snaps: [17.3] fail 13) At least 8 impact plays: [6] fail 14) At least 2 big plays: [2] pass 15) Pass rating of at least 125.0: [136.0] pass * -2 points for poor OL play and poor overall execution. Score: 8 of 15 (53.3%) Pass * Might be a passing performance on paper but this was not a quality offensive effort considering the level of competition. Defensive Report Card: 01) Avg under 6-yards per play on 1st down: [2.46] pass 02) Convert below 35% of 3rd downs: [37.5%] fail 03) Avg at least 4.0 yards per rush: [2.97] pass 04) Score below 1/3 of possessions: [7.7%] pass 05) Keep 3 and out series above 33%: [30.8%] fail 06) Average below 7.5 yards per pass attempt: [4.31 yds] pass 07) Score below 75% inside red zone: [33.3%] pass 08) TD red zone below 60%: [33.3%] pass 09) Avg under 30-yards per possession: [18.3 yds] pass 10) Less than 40% of offensive snaps part of scoring drives: [10.4%] pass 11) TD / Turnover ratio below 1.6: [1 TD’s / 2 turnovers] pass 12) TD ratio of at least 1 every 30 snaps: [67.0] pass 13) Less than 8 impact plays: [3] pass 14) No more than 2 big plays allowed: [1] pass 15) Pass rating below 125.0: [85.5] pass Score: 13 of 15 (86.6%) Pass * Hard to gauge this performance based on the opponent but the defense looked far more focused on defense than the offense. The DL looked much better than the OL and played with more physicality. Special Teams Report Card: 1) Punt Average (Above 41.3): [41.0] 2 of 6 inside 20 (fail) 2) Punt Return Defense (Below 7.8 YPR): [4.0] pass 3) Punt Return Offense (Above 9.8 YPR): [15.0] pass 4) Kick-Return Defense (Below 21.2 YPR): [19.7] pass 5) Kick-Return Offense (Above 22.3 YPR): [32.0] pass 6) PAT’s (100%): [4 of 4] pass 7) FG Pct (75% or above): [100.0%] pass -1 point for fumbled PR. Score: 5 of 7 (71.4%) pass *Not a very inspiring effort by the offense. I can understand the lack of mental focus on the opponent but the lack of an offensive push (OL) is not excusable. Only 1 run of 15-yards from 47 attempts and that was a Quan Bray perimeter run. War Eagle!
  10. Last night was a clear example of a team that has lost its focus primarily because of how the season has played out. It is much easier to dig down deep physically and mentally, when you have major goals to play for like 2013. This isn't the case this late into the 2014 season and it shows. This is not an excuse for the poor performance last night but this clearly isn't a motivated "team". There are some players who continue to play hard but not enough to make the difference. When Gus Malzahn arrived after the 2012 season, his biggest challenge would be teaching the players how to win again. The challenge now for the coaching staff is demanding the players to play hard all the time, no matter the opponent and record. The second challenge is more difficult than the first. Speaking of players who have not mailed in their performance. Cameron Artis-Payne is a baller and brings his lunchbox to every game. He is not a thriller or speedster but he is a player you want to go to battle with. He ran hard last night just as he has against better competition. Through 11-games, his totals are the 6th best rushing performance by an Auburn player based on yards per game, yards per rush and TD ratio. He has been Auburn's most consistent offensive player this season. What has happened to Corey Grant? His first 20 carries of the season (1st 2 games) produced 14 runs of 5-yards, 7 of 10-yards or more and 3 of 15 yards or more. He was never tackled for a loss and had only 4 carries of 2-yards or less.The remainder of the season he has only 31 carries. Of those 31 attempts, 13 went for 5+, 5 for 10+ and only 2 for 15+. Of his last 31 carries, 14 have gone for 2-yards or less and 6 went for a loss. I believe this is why we have seen less of him running the football. This is also why we have seen more of Ricardo Louis and Quan Bray on the perimeter runs. During the first 9 games of the season, 46.4% of Auburn's offensive snaps resulted in at least 5-yards. During the past 2 games, it has dipped down to 41.7%. Gus Malzahn's offense is built around success on first down. The HUNH aspect doesn't come into play until the first 1st down is made during a possession. Last season through 11 games, 29% of Auburn's first down plays netted 2-yards or less. This season it is 40% through 11 games. Who are the impact players on offense this season? CAP (22), Duke Williams (19), Nick Marshall (18), Sammie Coates (10) and Quan Bray (8). Last year through 11 games it was Marshall (21), Tre Mason (14), Sammie Coates (13), Corey Grant (13) and CAP (10). Last season through 11 games the Auburn offense scored 11 touchdowns on 17 possessions (64.7%) beginning on the opponent's side of the field. This season it is only 6 from 16 possessions (37.5%). In terms of the weekly "report card " features, this is how this year's team compares to last year's through 11 games. 2014 offense (74.5%) slightly up from 73.2% in 2013. This year's defense (52.7%) slightly down from last year's 55.5%. This year's special teams (55.4%) significantly down from last year's 71.4%. In terms of recent trends, the offense has a report card percentage of 55.6% during the last 3 games. The defense is 42.2% and special teams is 50.0%. Last season the Auburn run-offense converted 86.0% of their short-yardage situations of 2-yards or less to convert. This season it is down to 78.4%. During the first 7 games of the season Auburn averaged 10.7 PPG from their opponent's turnovers, while allowing the opponent to score 4.0 PPG from Auburn's turnovers. During the last 4 games, Auburn has scored zero points from their forced turnovers, while allowing 5.2 PPG from their miscues. That is basically an 11-point swing per game. In terms of penalty yardage per game, Auburn is currently No. 114 nationally compared to No. 30 last year. Auburn has surrendered 31 first downs on penalties alone or 2.8 per game. From 2004-2013, Auburn allowed an average of 21 per season or 1.6 per game. The 2013 and 2014 offense both produced 106 impact plays through 11 games. The difference is the 2013 offense had a combined 67 turnovers and penalties, while the 2014 offense has 93, offsetting their offensive production. During the first 5 games of the season the Auburn offense went "3 & out" only 16.1% of the time, while the defense forced a "3 & out", 45.0% of the time. During the last 6 games the offense is hitting at 23.2% and the defense has fallen to 20.0%. As any football season progress teams either improve or regress. Last season's team progressed as the season moved forward and this year's team has retreated. There are many valid reasons for the lack of production. Talent, depth, coaching, preparation, strength of schedule and senior leadership. After the Iron Bowl and headed into bowl preparation, the coaching staff needs to seriously look at themselves as well as the players coming back next season. It will be interesting to see just how much fight this team has left for the Iron Bowl and how the coaching staff schemes to give their players the best opportunity to compete. War Eagle!
  11. Last season only 19.6% of Nick Marshall's pass attempts were in the intermediate range. This year it slightly increased to 21.0%. Last season 26.8% of Jeremy Johnson's pass attempts were in the intermediate range, increasing to 27.3% this season. Even though Nick Marshall did improve his passing this season, Auburn continued to lack the intermediate routes in their pass-offense. When Jeremy Johnson slides into the starting role in 2015, look for the Auburn pass-offense to be more lethal in terms of stretching the secondary throughout the entire field and not just on deep vertical routes. Johnson possesses the height, smooth delivery and the accurate arm to make every throw needed to challenge opposing secondaries. The play... During this play Auburn faces a 3rd &15 from their own 20-yard line. Auburn comes out in a 4-WR set and Georgia responds with their safeties in a cover-2. Ricardo Louis and Marcus Davis will run deep vertical routes to occupy the safeties. C.J. Uzomah will run a shallow crossing route to occupy the linebackers. Melvin Ray will run an intermediate square-in route underneath the two safeties and a LB that drops deep into coverage. Jeremy Johnson makes his pass attempt just as Melvin Ray breaks inside towards the middle of the field. The timing of the pass allows Ray to catch the pass in stride, picking up an additional 10-yards for a 25-yard gain and Auburn first down. Through 10 games Auburn has faced 11 third-down situations of 15-yards or more needed to convert. Auburn has thrown the ball only 5 times in those long situations and this play was the only conversion of the 11 attempts.
  12. Auburn is currently No. 2 nationally converting third-downs this season. One of the reasons for their offensive success on third-down is the improved play of the pass-offense this season compared to last year. Auburn was 6 of 7 passing on third-down against Georgia but penalties on successful third-down plays snuffed out several offensive possessions. The play... During this play Auburn faces a 3rd & 9 from their own 44-yard line. The Tigers come out in a 4-WR look with 2 receivers stacked on the wide side of the field. C.J. Uzomah is the front man on the stack and he will run a square-in route. The receiver at the top of the stack (Quan Bray) will run an out-route, pulling the safety outside. At the snap Nick Marshall will look off his intended target ( Uzomah) as Uzomah breaks inside on his route underneath the corner and behind the LB. Marshall resets his feet and delivers a high pass, which Uzomah snags, taking advantage of his height advantage. The play results in a 12-yard gain and an Auburn first down. Last season the Auburn pass-offense possessed a solid pass rating on third-down but the rating was misleading. Auburn converted only 33.7% of their 3rd downs, throwing the football. This season they have converted 51.4%, which is currently 4th nationally.
  13. Through 10 games Cameron Artis-Payne has 1,276-yards rushing, averaging 5.59 yards per rush. Through the same number of games last season, Tre Mason had 1,038-yards on 5.73 yards per attempt. CAP has 22 plays of 15-yards or more this season compared to Mason's 13 through the same number of games. Against the Georgia Bulldogs Cameron Artis-Payne was held to just 86-yards rushing, though the senior RB had a 28-yard run called back on a holding penalty. CAP has been the most consistent performer on offense this season and currently leads the conference in rushing with two games remaining in the regular season. The play... During a moment of HUNH mode, Auburn runs their buck-sweep with a 1st & 10 at the Georgia 26-yard line. At the snap Devonte Danzey and Chad Slade pull to their right as Ricardo Louis crack-backs on the ILB to help seal the edge. CAP takes the inside hand off from Nick Marshall, sweeping right behind his pulling guards. CAP allows his guards to open up a hole before he accelerates down the sideline. In frame #4, CAP dips his left shoulder to make himself a smaller target before he breaks towards the sideline. The play results in a 26-yard touchdown, the tenth of the season for the senior running back.
  14. Something to consider... Gus Malzahn is now 20-5 as a HFC at Auburn, the same record held by Steve Spurrier during his first 25 games at UF. Both were considered offensive guru's. Malzahn now has three 14-pt losses or worse (LSU, MSU and UGA). Spurrier had five 15-pt losses or worse during his first 25 games, playing with better overall talent against a lesser strength of schedule. Eventually, Spurrier realized a better defense was needed to win a MNC and his offense wasn't going to be enough. I'm quite sure Malzahn realizes this at this point and will make the needed changes. We should give CGM the time to make the adjustments to his staff.
  15. Game #10 Statistical Evaluation (Georgia Game) Offensive Report Card: 01) Avg 6-yards per play on 1st down: [4.71] fail 02) Convert at least 40% of 3rd downs: [57.1%] pass 03) Avg at least 4.5 yards per rush: [4.29] fail 04) Score on at least 1/3 of possessions: [11.1%] fail 05) Keep 3 and out series under 33%: [11.1%] pass 06) Average 8.0 yards per pass attempt: [5.07 yds] fail 07) Score at least 75% inside red zone: [0.0%] fail 08) TD red zone above 60%: [0.0%] fail 09) Avg at least 30-yards per possession: [32.4 yds] pass 10) 40% of offensive snaps part of scoring drives: [15.9%] fail 11) TD / Turnover ratio above 1.6: [1 TD’s / 2] fail 12) TD ratio of at least 1 every 17 snaps: [63.0] fail 13) At least 8 impact plays: [6] fail 14) At least 2 big plays: [0] fail 15) Pass rating of at least 125.0: [89.0] fail Score: 3 of 15 (20.0%) Fail Defensive Report Card: 01) Avg under 6-yards per play on 1st down: [5.75] pass 02) Convert below 35% of 3rd downs: [38.5%] fail 03) Avg at least 4.0 yards per rush: [5.56] fail 04) Score below 1/3 of possessions: [50.0%] fail 05) Keep 3 and out series above 33%: [10.0%] fail 06) Average below 7.5 yards per pass attempt: [6.47 yds] pass 07) Score below 75% inside red zone: [100.0 %] fail 08) TD red zone below 60%: [66.6%] fail 09) Avg under 30-yards per possession: [41.2 yds] fail 10) Less than 40% of offensive snaps part of scoring drives: [76.0%] fail 11) TD / Turnover ratio below 1.6: [4 TD’s / 0 turnovers] fail 12) TD ratio of at least 1 every 30 snaps: [17.8] fail 13) Less than 8 impact plays: [6] pass 14) No more than 2 big plays allowed: [1] pass 15) Pass rating below 125.0: [124.4] pass Score: 5 of 15 (33.3%) Fail Special Teams Report Card: 1) Punt Average (Above 41.3): [39.0] 2 of 4 inside 20 pass 2) Punt Return Defense (Below 7.8 YPR): [0.0] pass 3) Punt Return Offense (Above 9.8 YPR): [-4.0] fail 4) Kick-Return Defense (Below 21.2 YPR): [32.0] fail 5) Kick-Return Offense (Above 22.3 YPR): [20.6] fail 6) PAT’s (100%): [1 of 1] pass 7) FG Pct (75% or above): [0-0] N/A -1 point for fumbled PR. Score: 2 of 6 (33.3%) Fail Complete team breakdown this week. This has to go down as the first "egg" performance under Gus Malzahn. War Eagle!