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  1. Former Tigers Alex Kozan and Reese Dismukes have started a podcast. It's definitely worth a listen and they take questions. It's available on most platforms including iTunes and soundcloud. You can also download at this LINK.
  2. 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!
  3. 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.
  4. 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 288 SEC teams (4.5%) finished the season averaging over 480-yards per game. The Auburn run-offense, though not at the level of 2013 is still very good. AU has surpassed 200+ yards rushing in 5 of 6 games. Auburn can still run the football and people must realize 2013 was an exception to the rule. Since 1960, only 38 of 598 SEC teams averaged more than 260-yards rushing per game (6.3%). From 1990-2013, only 3 of 288 SEC teams (1%) averaged more than 260-yards rushing per game and only 1 averaged more than 300 (Auburn 2013). Auburn is currently averaging 277.3 yards rushing in conference play, No. 1 in the SEC. Of the 302 SEC teams from 1990-2014, Auburn's current average of 262-yards rushing per game is the 6th best average during that time frame. Yes, Auburn isn't running the football like 2013 but it is far from being broke. Only 5 other teams have done it better than the 2014 Auburn Tigers among 302 SEC teams. The media talks about the powerful Arkansas running game currently averaging 256.9 yards per game but fail to mention only 163.2 yards per game in conference play. Is everything perfect through 6 games? Nope but the coaches and players know this. Hopefully they were able to take advantage of this recent bye-week to make some fine adjustments on offense. There has been plenty of self-scouting and evaluation to become more consistent moving forward. I associate the words, "lack of identity" with being lost. Auburn isn't lost offensively. Are they having consistency issues stemming from poor execution? You bet. The coaching staff came into this season wanting to generate more explosive plays in the pass-offense. They knew duplicating last year's rushing numbers was virtually impossible with the departures AU suffered in personnel loss. I believe the coaching staff wants to address a few issues of consistency, when it comes to execution but that is a far cry from lacking an offensive identity. Nothing has changed from a schematic point of view, when it comes to offensive goals. Malzahn wants to run the football (be physical) and have a vertical passing offense to compliment the running game. Most of the breakdowns suffered on offense through 6 games has more to do with execution than player personnel. The Tigers are striving to be more physical up front and are having to deal with losing a starting guard (Alex Kozan) before the season began along with the early departure of Greg Robinson. The recent in jury to Patrick Miller resulted in another OL shuffle. This is why Braden Smith is now getting a look at the guard position. The coaches want more explosiveness at the RB position, so Roc Thomas will likely have an expanded role. This doesn't mean that Cameron Artis-Payne has been a failure. He is far from it, currently ranked No. 20 nationally in rushing. He is also on pace for a 1400+ yard season within a 13-game season. I cannot wait to see what Roc Thomas physically looks like next year with an off-season conditioning program under his belt. He certainly has the burst Tre Mason possessed. Ricardo Louis was not performing consistently so Quan Bray is getting more reps. I've heard comments that Gus Malzahn is too loyal or stubborn to make personnel changes. The examples I just listed is proof otherwise and there have been other changes during the first-half of the season. We have seen various rotations of the bigger WR's (Ray and Denson) and TE's to improve setting the edge and perimeter blocking. As for the quarterback position, I have no doubt the coaches will give Jeremy Johnson a shot if THEY feel Nick Marshall is not delivering at the level they want. Until that moment happens, I'm going to believe the coaches still have full confidence in their starting quarterback. Through 6 games into 2014, Nick Marshall has a better TD-INT ratio than 2013. It was 6-4 last year and 10-3 this year. His ratio of impact plays in the passing-game is better in 2014 than 2013. Last season only 31% of his third-down passes resulted in a first down and this year it is 44%. With the same number of rush attempts through 6 games, Marshall is also gaining more yards per rush than 2013. Auburn's pass-offense through 6 games is currently No. 14 nationally in generating 1st downs or touchdowns and No. 24 in pass-efficiency. The only significant drop in his passing numbers has come on first-down. Marshall is completing 62% this season compared to 67% through 6 games into 2013. I'm looking forward to see how Auburn responds this Saturday night against the Gamecocks. Last season the offense continued to improve after their bye-week, following the LSU defeat. Hopefully, we will see similar results this season.
  5. With 1621-yards rushing coming into the BCSNC Game, Tre Mason is obviously a key factor for the Auburn offense. There have been bigger, stronger and faster running backs to play at Auburn but Tre Mason has produced the 2nd best rushing season by an Auburn RB. What makes Mason so special is that he obtains the most of his attributes as a RB. He can run with power, quickness and has enough speed to create separation. Perhaps his best quality as a RB is his field vision and decision making. He is rarely tackled for a loss because he hits the gap as soon as it opens. Like Kenny Irons, he is one of Auburn's best "north & south" runners. On this play against Arkansas, Auburn will run Tre Mason inside from the 8-yard line. The Razorbacks have 8 in the box but Mason's great vision and decision making leads to an Auburn score. When Mason receives the hand off from Nick Marshall, he initially targets the "A" gap on the right side of Reese Dismukes. The Razorback MLB attacks this gap and Mason makes a cut to his left to attack the "B" gap between Alex Kozan and Greg Robinson. One lateral step to his left and Mason is quickly through a smaller gap but quick enough to exploit it for an Auburn touchdown. From the end zone.... From this view you can see the play develop better and how Mason's vision and reaction resulted in a positive play for the Tigers. This is a play that Mason has perfected this season because he can also bounce the play outside the tackles if the defense is caught up in traffic. On this occasion, the perimeters are covered, which requires Mason to attack between the tackles. Tre Mason wastes very little time moving east & west. He is quick to locate his point of attack and reacts to obtain the most from every carry. A 3-4 yard run on first down is better than another RB wasting time laterally to find a better space to run, resulting in a loss. This type of play by Mason will be essential against Florida State, keeping the Tigers in 3rd & short most the night.
  6. Auburn's offensive line has not received the attention they deserve through the media but opposing coaches have certainly taken notice. You don't lead the nation in rushing from a BCS conference without having solid OL play. Coach J.B. Grimes has done a stellar job, focusing on the details and mechanics of his pupils. It started in the conditioning program and took shape once actual practice began. Raising the performance level of each individual player set the foundation for a "unit" that has improved as the season progressed. Auburn has been fortunate to avoid any major injuries up front, which has resulted in one of the best OL's in the nation. On this play Auburn has a 1st & 10 at the Missouri 13-yard line. The Tigers come out in their Wildcat set with an unbalanced line. Note that both tackles are on the right side of the formation. At the snap Nick Marshall will fake the speed-sweep to Quan Bray as Alex Kozan pulls to his right. As Nick Marshall makes the inside give to Tre Mason, Auburn now has 4 OL to the right of Reese Dismukes, overloading the left side of the Missouri defense. In frames #2 & #3, you can see Alex Kozan chipping the DE first and moving on to crush the MLB. Reese Dismukes is rerouting the DT outside away from the point of attack. Chad Slade initially doubles on the other DT and releases to the 2nd level to engage the OLB. In frame #3, Avery Young and Greg Robinson folds the left side of the Missouri line inside, creating a running lane for Tre Mason. Tre Mason now has the safety 1 on 1, cutting inside the safety on his way to the end zone. Mason breaks the tackle and powers his way into the end zone for the score. Despite Missouri having 8 in the box to start the play, Auburn still manages to overload the left side of the line to power their way in for the score.
  7. Cameron Artis-Payne has been a quality No. 2 RB in the Auburn offense this year, making the most of his 90 carries on the season. The junior-college transfer is currently averaging 6.8 yards per rush and 1/3 of his carries have resulted in a first-down or touchdown this season. He has produced 20 rushes of 10-yards or more and 6 for 20-yards or more. On this play Auburn has a 3rd & 3 at the Missouri 36-yard line. Cameron Artis-Payne checks in to spell Tre Mason. Auburn will run their read-option as Missouri counters with a run-blitz. At the snap Nick Marshall reads the DE, who is playing the perimeter, so Marshall makes the inside give to Artis-Payne. Greg Robinson and Alex Kozan folds the DT's inside, creating a huge running lane for CAP through the "C" gap. Artis-Payne bursts through the gaping hole, picking up 21-yards and an Auburn first down. On the next snap, CAP scores on a 15-yard TD run. Facing a 1st & 10 from the Mizzu 15-yard line, Auburn elects to run inside once again with Cameron Artis-Payne. It's virtually the same play but CAP runs through the "A" gap. Like the play before, the DE plays the outside keep by the quarterback, so Nick Marshall makes the inside give to Artis-Payne. With the LB playing over top, CAP elects to take the "A" gap behind Reese Dismukes. Ricardo Louis slides down from his slot position to pick up a LB, leaving CAP 1 on 1 with the safety. CAP makes an initial cut as if he is going to Ricardo's right shoulder and cuts back inside to Ricardo's left shoulder. The lateral movement pulls the safety out of position, giving CAP clear sailing to the Mizzu end zone for the score. Cameron Artis-Payne might not be as quick as Tre Mason but he has terrific lateral movement. For the season, Auburn has converted an amazing 69% of their 3rd downs of 6-yards or less, running the football. Florida State has allowed their opponent to convert 57% of their 3rd downs of 6-yards or less, running the football.
  8. If Auburn is going to capture their second BCS National Championship, it will require the type of offensive production the Tigers had against Missouri in the SECCG. Tre Mason set conference records with 304-yards rushing and 46 attempts against Mizzu. The Associated Press SEC Offensive Player of the Year will be a key component, when Auburn clashes with the Seminoles. Tre Mason will enter the National Championship Game as the leading rusher in the Southeastern Conference and first-team All-SEC. On this play Auburn faces a 1st & 10 from their own 21-yard line. Auburn runs their buck-sweep to the right, pulling both guards to create a running lane on the edge for Tre Mason. Before the snap Ricardo Louis will orbit-motion over the backfield, forcing the Missouri defense to respect the possible end-around option. Jay Prosch seals the DE as Chad Slade and Alex Kozan pull right to create an alley for Tre Mason to run through. Not only must the Mizzu defense respect Louis on the end-around, they must also keep their eyes on Nick Marshall. The motions and multiple running options slows the reaction time of the Missouri defense, resulting in a 52-yard run that would set up an Auburn touchdown. The extra time before the BCSNCG, will allow FSU much needing time to prepare for the Auburn offense but consistency and execution is the key reason why Auburn has been so successful running the football this season. Regardless of how much tape FSU reviews, it will still come down to player assignment and execution.
  9. Last season during 12 games, the Auburn offense produced 64 run-plays of 10-yards or more. This season through 11 games, the Auburn offense has totaled 112 such run-plays. The combination of an improved OL, execution and play-calling has resulted in a massive overhaul to the offense. One area Auburn must exploit against the Alabama defense is running the ball on first-down. The Auburn offense is currently No. 2 nationally averaging 6.87 yards per rush on first-down. The Alabama defense is currently No. 52 nationally, allowing 4.27 yards per rush on first-down. On this play Auburn has a 1st & 10 from the Georgia 24-yard line. The Tigers will run an inside power play, overloading the right side of the Georgia front-7. At the snap Alex Kozan and Reese Dismukes will drive the DE and NT inside. Chad Slade and Jay Prosch will pull left, kicking out the OLB and ILB. Nick Marshall will make the inside give to Tre Mason, who runs between the running lane created by the Auburn OL and FB. Greg Robinson and CJ Uzomah are in position to make blocks at the next level as Mason speeds to the end zone untouched for a 24-yard touchdown run. It's this kind of physical play that will be required for Auburn to successfully run the ball against Alabama. It will be vital for Auburn to be able to run the ball consistently on first down and to be able to throw on early downs to keep the running game alive.
  10. If Auburn is going to defeat Alabama in two weeks, the Auburn running game will need to be hitting on all 8 cylinders. Corey Grant could play a major role in the Iron Bowl just as he and Ricardo Louis did against Georgia's speedy defense. With the primary focus being on Nick Marshall and Tre Mason, it should create opportunities for Grant. In order for Grant to be successful against the Crimson Tide defense, he will need to be decisive in his decision making. Any hesitation or doubt will likely result in a negative play on perimeter runs. On this play, the key to it's success was Corey Grant's decision to cut up field at the first moment of opportunity. Auburn will operate out of their inverted-veer look with the speed-sweep action. The defense will likely focus on Nick Marshall, allowing Grant to break to the edge. Jay Prosch will seal the edge as Brandon Fulse will kick-out the safety dropping down in run support. Alex Kozan will pull to his right to engage the OLB as Avery Young releases the DE and targets the ILB. Grant makes a quick cut up field behind Jay Prosch as Quan Bray makes the final block to spring Grant into the secondary. Corey Grant makes 2 great cuts on the play, which allows him to maximize his quickness and speed to the end zone for a 21-yard TD play. This is the type of instinct Grant needs to display against Alabama to create explosive plays in the running game. Though Grant has only 56 carries on the season, he is averaging 9.9 yards per rush with 22 runs for first downs and 19 runs of 10-yards or more.
  11. WR screens have always been a major component of Gus Malzahn's offense. He depends on the screens to stretch the defense horizontally and to create deep play opportunities, when the opposing secondary cheats up to defend them. The double-screen pass Auburn executed against the Aggies this past Saturday was perhaps one of the most successful screens Auburn has tallied under Gus Malzahn. On this play Auburn has the ball at the TAMU 43-yard line, facing a 2nd & 16. Auburn comes out in a 4-WR set, calling a double-screen play. At the snap Nick Marshall pivots to his right to fake the screen to the wide side of the field. At the same time Sammie Coates drops to set up the actual screen to the boundary side. Marshall will pivot back to his left to make the pass to Sammie Coates. Alex Kozan and Reese Dismukes release out into the boundary-flat to set up a wall for Sammie Coates as he hauls in the pass from Nick Marshall. Coates darts inside and straight up the field untouched for a 43-yard touchdown. It was an excellent call at the time and was executed to perfection.
  12. If Auburn runs any Wildcat formations against the Aggies without Marshall or Johnson taking the snap, I hope Cameron Artis-Payne is pulling the trigger. CAP has done a solid job in the few times he has taken the snaps in the Wildcat and has proven to be a quality inside runner. The combination of CAP and Grant gives Auburn a similar punch as McFadden and Jones did at Arkansas in 2006, though Artis-Payne lacks the break away speed of McFadden. On this play Auburn faces a 2nd & 13 from the WCU 19-yard line. Auburn comes out in their wildcat formation with an unbalanced line. Note that Shon Coleman is actually playing TE on this play and will likely have a similar role against Texas A&M. Before the snap, Corey Grant comes in motion on the speed-sweep but CAP will fake the outside option. Cameron Artis-Payne keeps the ball with Jay Prosch taking out the DE as Alex Kozan pulls left, becoming a lead blocker for CAP. Avery Young and Kozan open up a gaping hole inside for Artis-Payne, who drives ahead for a 16-yard gain and an Auburn first down. The play sets up a touchdown on the next Auburn snap.
  13. Auburn enters game #7 with the No. 7 run-offense nationally vs. the No. 104 run-defense (Texas A&M). No matter who starts at quarterback for Auburn, the Tigers must obtain the most of their running game this coming Saturday. In terms of churning out 10+ yard runs, Auburn is No. 7 nationally and the Aggie defense is 114th in allowing them. Gus Malzahn is 36-6, when his run offense has at least 45 carries, averaging 37.4 PPG, when doing so. On this play Auburn has the ball at the Catamount 20-yard line and they will run a sweep to the left behind two pulling guards. This has always been a staple play in the Malzahn offense, where his backs have produced most of their long runs. Nothing fancy in terms of schemes, relying simply on pure execution. At the snap, Alex Kozan and Chad Slade pull to the left to create a running lane for Tre Mason, who takes the hand off from Jeremy Johnson. Jay Prosch is lined up as a TE and will be responsible for sealing the edge (DE). Kozan delivers a good kick out block as Tre Mason sprints towards the sideline. Mason speeds down the sideline and dives into the end zone for the Auburn score. Regardless of the caliber of opponent, Auburn must play well up front and hopefully receive solid down field blocking. Quan Bray did a solid job of walling off a defender, preventing backside pursuit. With the previous loss of Jaylon Denson and now Brandon Fulse, the Tigers have lost two valuable perimeter blockers.
  14. Though Tre Mason was held to 77-yards rushing on 21 carries against Ole Miss, the junior running back picked up an additional 62-yards on 3 receptions against the Rebels. Mason was involved in 2 pass plays of more than 25-yards as well as being the Tigers leading receiver that night. On this play Auburn sets up a screen pass to Tre Mason. Auburn comes out in a 4-WR set to spread the Rebel defense out. At the snap, Nick Marshall looks off his intended target (Tre Mason) as Mason slips out of the backfield. Nick Marshall delivers the screen pass to Mason, who turns up field for a 29-yard gain and Auburn first down. The play was set up by great blocking on the perimeter, which opened up a running lane for the Auburn running back. Note this second view of the same play and the blocking that set up the big gain for the Auburn Tigers. Brandon Fulse, Alex Kozan and Greg Robinson were instrumental to Tre Mason having room to operate down field.
  15. Auburn's offensive line played well against the LSU defense for the most part as this unit continues to gel with more game experience together. Last season the Auburn offense finished at No. 119 in tackles for loss (ratio) allowed. This season Auburn is currently 32nd nationally in this same category. This speaks volumes of the improved play of the Auburn OL. On this play Auburn runs Tre Mason inside as LSU attempts to blitz a LB through the "C" gap. Alex Kozan pulls on this play and will engage the blitzing LB. Not only does Kozan prevent a possible negative play, Kozan utterly destroys the LB as Mason gains 6-yards and an Auburn first down.
  16. Last season through 4 games Auburn was 1-3, averaging 298-yards and 17 PPG. This season through 4 games, the Tigers are 3-1 averaging 440-yards and 28 PPG. The primary reason for Auburn's improvement on offense has been execution, especially when it comes to blocking. We have witnessed improvement on the OL as well as the perimeter blocking by the WR's and TE's. Coach Gus Malzahn and his offensive staff are still pushing the team for continued improvement, when it comes to execution, especially with Auburn having entered their SEC portion of their schedule. On this play Auburn will run a quick-screen out to Sammie Coates with both DB's on the boundary side playing way off the line. At the snap Nick Marshall looks off his primary target and quickly turns back to throw the screen pass out to Sammie Coates. The OL releases off the line to set up their blocks for Sammie Coates. Marcus Davis does a terrific job making a down field block as well Alex Kozan hustling down field to do the same. The down field blocking opens up a nice running lane for Coates as he motors down field for a 31-yard gain and Auburn first down.
  17. If Auburn is to pull the upset on No. 6 LSU in Baton Rouge, the Auburn OL will have to play well. It will be a physical contest and the team with the better running game normally comes out victorious. Auburn enters the game with an average of 239.3 yards rushing per game but struggled last week running between the tackles. Corey Grant could be a player to watch for against LSU, especially if Gus Malzahn elects to include him in the passing game. On this play Auburn faces a 3rd & goal at the MSU 14-yard line intent to run on the play. Though the play did not convert for a TD, it was a good example of key blocks setting up a positive gain. At the snap Kiehl Frazier can keep and follow Alex Kozan running between the tackles but he elects to give to Corey Grant on the speed sweep. Jay Prosch takes out the OLB and Quan Bray takes out the CB. Note in frame #2 how the 4 remaining OL drive the MSU DL off the ball and away from the point of attack. Again, the Auburn OL will have to play well to keep the Auburn offense balanced against a very fast LSU defense. Onterio McCalebb in a limited role finished his career against LSU with 27 offensive touches for 200-yards and 3 TD's. Corey Grant will likely be limited in touches but utilizing him in space in the passing game could set up some explosive play opportunities against LSU.
  18. During game #2 against Arkansas State, Corey Grant was not involved as much in the offensive game plan despite Auburn running the football a few more times than they did against Washington State. Despite having fewer opportunities to touch the football, Grant still delivered an impact play during the game. On this play Auburn is faced with a 2nd & 3 from the Red Wolves 17-yard line. The Auburn offense will execute their jet-sweep with Corey Grant to the wide side of the field. At the snap, Brandon Fulse and Jay Prosch are lined up in the backfield and they will lead the charge to the right to create a running lane for Grant. Alex Kozan (LG) will also pull to his right to give Auburn a "numbers" advantage on the edge. The DE aligned on Auburn's right is left unblocked intentionally because Grant's motion before the snap and subsequent speed should offset the DE making penetration. The DE becomes 1 less defender to account for as the blocking schemes are set up to engage the second level of the defense. Grant bursts past the DE and makes a quick cut up field behind a solid wall of blockers. He has a clear running lane to the end zone and a 17-yard TD run. The play gives Grant 5 explosive plays on the season, which currently leads the team. Look for Auburn to set up some pass plays for Grant in the near future just as Malzahn did with Onterio McCalebb.
  19. By midway in the final period of the Arkansas State game, Auburn was able to substitute backups into the game, which is almost always a good sign. It normally means the team was very successful on the field and allows younger players to receive valuable playing time to improve their game. In this case it meant the Auburn debut of Shon Coleman who has likely overcome more to reach this moment in his playing career to take a snap at Auburn than any other player in school history. On this play Auburn faces a 2nd & 10 from the Red Wolves 12-yard line. Shon Coleman has already been involved in the previous offensive series as the LT but this will be his first scoring drive as an Auburn Tiger. Auburn executes a sweep to the right with Gage Batten (FB) as Cameron Artis-Payne's lead blocker. Alex Kozan is the only regular starter on the OL and he pulls to his right to clear a running lane for Auburn's RB. Jaylon Denson seals the edge long enough for Artis-Payne to turn the corner as Auburn's power RB breaks a tackle to skip into the end zone for Auburn's final TD of the game. This play is regularly featured in Malzahn's offense and it was part of a 301-yard rushing performance, which included CAP's first 100-yard game as an Auburn Tiger.