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  1. Auburn's running game was taken to a different level last season, once the decision was made to base the offense around the read-option element. During the final 10-games of the season, Auburn averaged 367-yards rushing per game. The first-half of the Arkansas game this past Saturday, revealed just how important Nick Marshall has become to the run-offense. After being held to 68-yards rushing during the first half without Marshall in the lineup, Auburn rushed for 234-yards against the Razorbacks with Nick Marshall inserted. The play... On this play Auburn has the ball at the Arkansas 19-yard line, facing a 2nd & 9. The Tigers come out in one of their base formations, which normally incorporates 3-WR's, 1-TE and 1-RB. Auburn intends to run their inside zone-read, which involves the "read" off the DT. At the snap, Nick Marshall will read the DT, who is left unblocked by Avery Young, who advances to the next level to engage a block. If the DT plays the QB, Marshall will make the give to Cameron Artis-Payne to the perimeter. Should the DT crash down on the RB, Marshall will keep on the inside run. At the snap the DT plays the give to CAP, so Marshall keeps to run through a gaping hole. Patrick Miller drives the DE outside as Reese Dismukes directs the NT in the opposite direction. The MLB commits to the RB option, pulling himself out of position. Had he committed to the QB, Avery Young would have been in position to block him. The play results in a 19-yard touchdown run. Different angle... This is the same play from the end zone view. This view shows how the WLB is pulled out of the picture because C.J. Uzomah is lined up on the line and WLB has coverage responsibility on the TE. Because the DT and MLB play the run-option to CAP, 3 defenders are basically taken out of the picture without a single block. Frame #3 reveals how difficult it was for the DT to make his decision because Marshall waits to the last split-second to pull the ball out. Avery Young and C.J. Uzomah make key blocks at the next level to spring Nick Marshall into the end zone for the score. Auburn ran a variation of this play quite frequently with Cam Newton during the 2010 season. We rarely saw it last season with Nick Marshall, electing to spring Marshall on the perimeter with the outside read-option. Having Marshall or Jeremy Johnson running inside more often this season, will be another stress factor for opposing defenses to consider.
  2. During the season opener, the Auburn front-7 accounted for 50 percent of the team's tackles. Last season the front-7 dropped under 53 percent only 2 times out of 14-games. For the sake of this discussion, I included the "star" position as part of the front-7 totals. The defense clearly played more to its potential during the second half, holding the Razorbacks to just 2-yards rushing compared to the 151 allowed during the first half. The following breakdown is an example of the type of needed to make a major impact this season. The play... On this play Arkansas faces a 3rd & 4 at the Auburn 28-yard line. The Razorbacks elect to run the football from a bunch set, hoping to catch the Auburn defense playing the pass. At the snap, DaVonte Lambert, Gabe Wright and Ben Bradley are able to make a good push at the line of scrimmage. By maintaining their gaps, the Arkansas RB is forced to bounce the play outside. During the attempt to bounce the play outside, Justin Garrett and Jonathan Jones make deep penetration into the backfield, stretching the play further towards the sideline. Cassanova McKinzy and Kris Frost initially take on blocks by the OL but because of Auburn's DL penetration, the play is forced outside. This allows McKinzy and Frost time to work themselves free to continue their track towards the ball carrier. McKinzy is able to motor his way towards the new point of attack (outside). Jonathan Jones makes the first contact with the RB, deep in the backfield. McKinzy arrives in time to finish off the play and to tackle the RB for a 6-yard loss. The huge loss pushes the Razorbacks out of FG range, forcing a punt with Auburn holding a 7-point lead (28-21) at the time. Though Lambert, Wright and Bradley were not credited for a tackle, it was their initial attack at the line, which forced the play outside. By extending the play, it allowed time for other defenders to work their way to the football. During the first half, 34% of the Razorbacks offensive snaps were held to 2-yards or less. During the second half, 68% of their snaps were held to 2-yards or less.
  3. One of my favorite plays from the Arkansas game was Auburn's delay draw or what I refer to as a slip-draw. Like many plays Gus Malzahn and Rhett Lashlee call, it is designed to freeze the defense, utilizing misdirection. The exchange or hand off takes place on one side of the backfield but the play normally funnels in the opposite direction. The play... On this down, Auburn faces a 2nd & 3 from the Razorback 15-yard line. Auburn will execute their version of the draw play, featuring Cameron Artis-Payne. Note in frame #2, at the time of the exchange, there are 5 defenders on that side of the hash. (The safety over top makes player #5 but he is out of view) The formation with 2-WR's on that side along with the H-Back, forces the defense to overload that side. When Jeremy Johnson takes the snap, he makes a quick half-roll to his right as CAP takes 1 step to his right before taking the delayed hand off from Johnson. The defense has to respect the edge Johnson is rolling to in the event it is a play-action pass or Johnson elects to keep and run. This split second, when the hand off is being made freezes the defense. Once CAP takes the hand off he steps inside before countering back to the left. Shon Coleman drives the DE outside as Reese Dismukes & Avery Young wall off any backside pursuit. Chad Slade moves to the next level to take out the OLB. The other 2 LB's were caught up in the wash from playing the hash mark side Johnson rolled to before the hand off. CAP quickly cuts back inside through the "A" gap, darting into the end zone for a touchdown. The play was called back on a face mask penalty called on Patrick Miller. Auburn found great success almost every time they called this play with CAP as well as Corey Grant.
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  5. D'haquille Williams clearly lived up to all the preseason hype, catching 9 passes for 154-yards against the Razorbacks. He led all offensive players with 5 impact plays or plays of 15-yards or more. He became only the 4th Auburn WR to record at least 5 impact plays during a game against a conference opponent from 1992-2014. The play... On this play Auburn faces a 3rd & 6 from the Razorback 18-yard line. The Tigers come out in a 4-WR set with D'haquille Williams lined up in the slot on the wide-side of the field. Arkansas responds with a nickel package and their safeties playing deep off the line. This opens up the middle of the field for a quick slant, which Auburn executes with Williams. As soon as Jeremy Johnson takes the snap, he immediately fires his pass to Williams, who cuts inside the nickel corner. By the time the safety arrives into view, Williams already has made the first down, headed towards the Razorback endzone. Williams fights through both DB's and extends his upper body and ball over the goal line for his first touchdown as an Auburn Tiger. D'haquille Williams will be a nightmare to cover in the slot this season but expect Malzahn and Lashlee to move him around to create other mismatches on the field. Prior 5-play impact performances against SEC teams... 1995 Tyrone Goodson - Ole Miss 1996 Tyrone Goodson - Miss State 1997 Tyrone Goodson - LSU 1997 Tyrone Goodson - Ole Miss 2009 Darvin Adams - Miss State 2012 Emory Blake - Georgia
  6. On this play Auburn will show a run look, facing a second down. The Tigers come out in a 2-WR set with both TE's on the field. Just before the snap the boundary corner will begin to edge towards the line with the intent to blitz off the edge. Jeremy Johnson will play-action with Cameron Artis-Payne, knowing he has an open receiver in Melvin Ray. Johnson delivers his pass over the blitzing corner as Ray utilizes his vertical advantage to haul in the quick pass from Johnson. The safety comes in late and Ray is able to break the 1 on 1 tackle attempt. After breaking the tackle, Melvin Ray speeds down the sideline for a 49-yard touchdown and the first Auburn score of the season.
  7. The Auburn Tigers kicked off the season with a 45-21 victory that was a tale of two halves. Auburn jumped out to a 21-7 lead, only to see the Razorbacks rally to tie the game at 21 by halftime. The Tigers played an inspired second-half, dominating the Hogs, 24-0 during the final two quarters. As well as Jeremy Johnson performed during the first half, it was the return of Nick Marshall that opened up the Tigers powerful run assault. The second-half performance of the Auburn defense marked the first time since the 2011 Florida game, Auburn shutout their conference opponent, during the final two quarters of the game. Auburn extended their record to 83-5 since 1981, when scoring at least 14 points during the first quarter. The Tigers also extended their current scoring record, which is now 11 consecutive games of 30 points or more, dating back to the 2013 season. The previous stretch of 30-point games came during the 1994 season, when Auburn had 8 consecutive games of 30-points or more. It appears Auburn will have another stellar offense this season but there are a few question marks regarding the defense. Special teams had a solid performance against the Razorbacks and it will be interesting to see how much this team improves as the season progresses. I do believe it is safe to say, Auburn's offense will give them a chance to beat anyone in the country in 2014. After week No. 1, it is way too early to begin placing labels on any team in the conference. Teams are often not as bad or good as they initially appeared. We won't observe true "team identities" until a few games into the season. LSU was a prime example of a team that looked hideous during the first 3 quarters against Wisconsin but looked like a typical LSU squad during the final period. As for Auburn, the Tigers are where they should be on offense with plenty of potential on defense and special teams. Inside the Numbers: Auburn converted 57.1 percent of their third-downs during the first-half and 71.4 percent during the second-half. The defense held Arkansas to 25.0 percent during the first-half and 16.7 percent during the second-half. This is a wonderful trend, which hopefully carried over from 2013. Cameron Artis-Payne recorded the 41st 100-yard rushing performance during the Gus Malzahn offensive era at Auburn. 50 percent of Auburn's 70 offensive snaps netted at least 5-yards, while Arkansas hit at 40.0 percent. The Razorbacks averaged 7.6 yards per play during the first half and only 2.4 yards per play during the second half. The Razorbacks recorded 6 impact plays on offense during the first half but was held to just 2 during the second half. (Impact plays = 15+ yards) 34.3 percent of the Razorbacks offensive snaps were held to 2-yards or less during the first half, increasing to 68.0 percent during the second half. D'haquille Williams led the Auburn offense with 5 of Auburn's 14 impact plays on offense. The former JUCO standout was targeted 9 times during the game, making good on all 9 passes thrown his way. From 1981-2014, Auburn is now 134-9-1, when scoring on 33 percent of their offensive possessions. Auburn scored on 50 percent of their possessions against the Razorbacks, increasing Auburn's record to 62-0, when scoring on at least 50 percent of their possessions. The combination of Auburn's quarterbacks were lethal against the Razorbacks. Jeremy Johnson and Nick Marshall combined for a pass rating of 233.6 on first down and 232.5 on third down. Auburn lost the tackle for loss battle to the Razorbacks, 6 to 5. Auburn recorded only 1 sack against the Razorbacks but did have 9 QB hurries. The Auburn pass-offense was extremely efficient in their intermediate to deep routes. The Tigers were 8 of 12 for 233-yards. One of the incomplete passes was a dropped TD pass by Sammie Coates from Nick Marshall. Cameron Artis-Payne and Corey Grant combined for 3.8 yards per rush with Jeremy Johnson as the quarterback. During the second half, Thunder and Lightning averaged 10.9 yards per rush with Nick Marshall at quarterback. 50 percent of CAP's 26 carries went for at least 5-yards but he was tackled for a loss on 3 occasions. After surrendering 267-yards of offense during the first half, the Auburn defense held Arkansas to just 61-yards during the second half. The secondary accounted for 50 percent of Auburn's tackles. The front-7 must become more active, which was the case during the second half. Auburn surrendered 151-yards rushing during the first half and only 2-yards on the ground during the second half. Auburn was 3 of 6 in situations of 2-yards or less to convert. The Tigers were 2 of 4 running and 1 of 2 passing. The two failed 3rd & 1 run-plays is something that should be addressed . Both teams had one turnover but Auburn converted their forced-turnover into a TD, which was a major momentum swing for the Tigers during the third quarter. The game plan against Arkansas with Jeremy Johnson was to attack vertically and the plan was successful. If not for the first half collapse by the defense, Auburn could have dominated earlier in the game. Full credit goes to the Razorbacks offensive line and running backs, for making the first half and extremely competitive game. In the future it will be interesting to see how the offense looks, when Johnson is allowed to run the football. He is not the same caliber of runner as Nick Marshall but he is certainly athletic enough to move the chains. Each year brings a new personality for the team. Despite having plenty of returning personnel, the 2014 team will not have the same personality as the 2013 squad. The opening game revealed an explosive offense by ground or air and a defense that played better as the game wore on. If this becomes the trend for the 2014 season, Auburn will be a very difficult team to contend with down the road. War Eagle! Photo: Wesley Sinor
  8. Great adjustments by defense during second half... Defense allowed 8.5 yards per play on first down during first half and only 2.2 yards during the second half. Game #1 Statistical Evaluation (Arkansas) 2014 Offensive Report Card 1) Average 6-yards per play on 1st down: 9.79 (pass) 2) Convert at least 40 pct of 3rd downs: 64.2% pct (pass) 3) Average at least 4.5 yards per rush: 6.29 YPC (pass) 4) Score on 1/3 of your offensive possessions: 58.3% (pass) 5) Keep "3 and out" series under 33%: 25.0% (pass) 6) Average 8.0 yards per pass attempt: 13.3 (pass) 7) Score above 75% in red zone: 100.0% (pass) 8) TD Red Zone above 60%: 100.0% (pass) 9) Average 30-yards per possession: 49.6 YPP (pass) 10) 40% of offensive snaps being part of a scoring drive: 68.6% (pass) 11) TD / Turnover ratio above 1.6: 5 TD’s / 1 turnovers (pass) 12) TD ratio of 1 every 17 plays: 11.7 (pass) 13) 8 impact plays: 14 (passs) 14) at least 2 big plays: 3 (pass) 15) Pass rating above 125.0: 214.6 (pass) Score: 15 of 15 (100.0%) Pass Defensive Report Card 1) Average under 6-yards per play on 1st down: 6.55 (fail) 2) Convert below 35-pct of 3rd downs: 20.0% (pass) 3) Average below 4.0 yards per rush: 5.27 YPC (fail) 4) Score below 1/3 of their possessions: 25.0% (pass) 5) Keep "3 and out" series above 33%: 41.7% (pass) 6) Average below 7.5 yards per pass attempt: 5.6 YPA (pass) 7) Score below 75% in red zone: 100.0% (fail) 8) TD Red Zone Pct below 60%: 100.0% (fail) 9) Average under 30-yards per possession: 27.3 YPP (pass) 10) Less than 40% of offensive snaps being part of a scoring drive: 36.7% (pass) 11) TD / Turnover ratio below 1.6: 3 TD’s / 1 turnover (fail) 12) TD ratio of 1 every 30 plays: 20.0 (fail) 13) Less than 8 impact plays allowed: 8 (fail) 14) No more than 2 big play allowed: 0 allowed (pass) 15) Pass rating below 125.0 allowed: 120.3 (pass) Score: 8 of 15 (53.3%) Pass Special Teams Report Card: 1) Punt Average (Above 41.3): 53.3 (pass) 2 of 3 inside the 20 2) Punt Return Defense (Below 7.8 YPR): 5.5 (pass) 3) Punt Return Offense (Above 9.8 YPR): 15.5 (pass) 4) Kick-Return Defense (Below 21.2 YPR): 15.0 (pass) 5) Kick-Return Offense (Above 22.3 YPR): 25.5 (pass) 6) PAT’s (100%): 6 of 6 (pass) 7) FG Pct (75% or above): 50.0% (fail) Score: 6 of 7 (85.7%) Pass Remember the key is to pass 50.0% of the categories. War Eagle!
  9. Basically the Auburn-Arkansas game will come down to the Razorbacks ability to defend space and Auburn's ability to defend mass. We witnessed South Carolina struggle dearly last night. Defending 60 pass attempts, the Gameocks mustered up only 1 sack, 2 QB hurries and had only 2 passes defended. In contrast, A&M defended 40 pass attempts but came up with 3 sacks, 6 QB hurries, 4 passes broken up and 1 pick. Go back and watch A&M's QB and he rarely had to go through any progressions. His primary receiver was open on almost every pass play to the point he got away with starring down his primary target. At times last season we witnessed the Auburn defense struggle, defending mass. Hopefully the front-7 will be better defending the run and creating more situational plays. The way the Auburn offense is built in comparison to Arkansas, on paper it would appear Auburn has a smaller field to defend except for the times the Razorbacks throw vertically. On a dry field, I believe this heavily favors Auburn but a heavy rain could even those odds for Arkansas. With all the attention on Coates and Williams, when Auburn passes, I believe this could open up a huge opportunity for Ricardo Louis. He is a play that will touch the ball in the running game as well as the passing game. Enjoy the season folks and don't let one game define the season. We will have some ups and downs this season, so don't focus too much on the negatives. If Auburn stays fairly healthy, there will be far more ups than downs. War Eagle and beat those Pigs! Auburn 38, Arkansas 23
  10. Saw an article on facebook about Arky's most recent scrimmage, where he addressed the fans prior to the open scrimmage. He asked them not to video anything, and asked that if they saw anyone recording anything, tell them not too. He then added "and if they are wearing an Auburn shirt and/or hat, knock the (expletive) out of them". I'm sorry, Bert, are you under the delusion that we may need to cheat to beat you? Seriously???? With your QB that threw how many interceptions in your spring game??? 3? 4?? Or how about your freshman RB that put up 102 yards on 8 carries against your stout defense? That's alright, Coach Meatsweats. August 31st will be here soon enough, and it'll be all over. You'll be back in Arky, licking your wounds from an epic ass-kicking, and you can then focus on how you will manage to lose another 8-9 games. Good luck, and sleep tight! Seems like Gus haunts your dreams, but if you think that is scary, wait until August 30th! That's when nightmare becomes reality!!! I think I smell bacon already!!! War Eagle!!!
  11. As productive as the Auburn running game has been this season, it still has limitations if the pass-offense isn't a factor. During these next three games, Auburn will need more production out of it's passing game to keep the opposing defenses honest. Georgia and Alabama have the potential to score into the 30's, which means Auburn will need to be more balanced on offense to be competitive. During the first 4 FBS games of the season Auburn had a pass rating of 128.1. During the last 4 FBS games Auburn's pass rating improved to 163.2. On this play Auburn faces a 2nd & 7 from the Razorback 29-yard line, coming out in a 3-WR set. Arkansas cheats their safeties up to defend the run, creating an opportunity with a play-action pass. At the snap, Jeremy Johnson play-actions with Tre Mason, which pulls the safety on the boundary side up in run-support. Sammie Coates is being covered by a corner playing 8-yards off the line of scrimmage. Coates will run a square-in route in front of the CB and over the safety, who his bitten on the play-action. Jeremy Johnson delivers his pass, which is high and slightly behind Coates. Sammie Coates makes an adjustment on the pass, hauling it in for a 15-yard gain and an Auburn first down. Auburn's running game has been difficult to control, especially with Nick Marshall's exceptional role in the zone-read element. Adding an effective and efficient passing game will aid Auburn in reaching it's full potential on offense and dynamic capabilities.
  12. Tre Mason is currently on pace to rush for over 1300-yards and 19 TD's in a 13-game season. He has easily become Auburn's top offensive performer as well as one of the top RB's in the Southeastern Conference. He is currently No. 11 nationally in yardage gained rushing on first down, No. 14 in yardage gained rushing during the second half and No. 1 nationally in yardage gained rushing inside the red zone. His 12 rushing TD's inside the red zone places him at No. 2 in the nation. Tre Mason runs with authority, instinct and great vision, which is why he is rarely caught behind the line of scrimmage. On this play Auburn has the ball 1st & 10 at the Arkansas 29-yard line. Because Auburn is in a 2-WR set, Arkansas counters with 8 in the box. At the snap Nick Marshall hands off to Tre Mason, who initially steps towards the "A" gap, which pulls the LB's inside of the tackles. The LB's will become caught up in traffic before Mason changes direction. Mason then bounces the play outside to his right as Sammie Coates seals the edge to give Mason the corner. Tre Mason turns the corner and up the side line for a 20-yard gain and an Auburn first down. Tre Mason is currently No. 16 nationally and No. 2 in the SEC with the total number of carries resulting in a first down or touchdown.
  13. One of the keys to victory against Arkansas was Auburn's offensive production inside the red zone. The Tigers scored 4 TD's during 4 trips to the Razorback red zone. Auburn is currently No. 16 nationally in scoring TD's inside the red zone and No. 2 in the SEC. This is a major step up from the 103rd ranking the Auburn offense had during 2012. This level of success is a tribute to the play-calling and player execution. On this play Auburn faces a 2nd goal from the Razorback 5-yard line. Auburn comes out in what essentially is a 6-man OL with Shon Coleman lined up as a TE. Before the snap Quan Bray comes in motion on the Jet-sweep look. At the snap, Nick Marshall fakes the hand off to Bray, which freezes the LB's and secondary. After faking to Bray, Nick Marshall hands off to Tre Mason on the inside give. The OL opens up a gaping hole as Mason darts in for an easy score. Note in frame #3 and #4 that the CB (#21) is actually in position to make a play on Mason but he bites on the speed-sweep to Bray, unaware Mason has the football.
  14. In a follow up to the Jake Holland spotlight, Cassanova McKinzy is spotlighted on this play. Once again Arkansas runs from a 2-TE set and an I-formation. On this play Arkansas is at the Auburn 24-yard line with a 1st & 5. The Razorbacks will attempt to run out of an I-formation with a 2-TE set. This time around, Auburn has 8 men in the box to defend the run. At the snap Kris Frost attempts to shoot throw the "B" gap but is engaged by the FB. As the RB takes the hand off from the QB, Carl Lawson beats his man, penetrating the backfield, forcing the RB to stay inside of the tackles. Cassanova McKinzy shoots through the gap, hitting the RB at the line of scrimmage. The RB attempts to spin away from McKinzy's initial contact but McKinzy wraps up his legs until additional defenders arrive to finish off the play. Arkansas rushed for 139-yards during the first half and 83 during the second-half.
  15. During the last 5 games of the 2012 season, Auburn's LB's accounted for 23.6% of the team's tackles. This season through 9 games, the LB's have accounted for 30.0% of the team's tackles. Against Mississippi State, LSU and Arkansas, the LB's accounted for 33.6% of the team's tackles. With increased production from the defensive line has come improved play from the LB position. On this play Arkansas has a 1st & 10 at their own 25-yard line, electing to run. At the snap the RB receives the hand off and Jake Holland slides to his left, shadowing the RB. When the RB makes his cut to hit the "A" gap, Holland shoots through the gap, making contact with the RB behind the line of scrimmage. Holland wraps up the legs of the RB as additional defenders arrive to finish off the play. Arkansas utilized 2-TE formations throughout the game in their power-running scheme. Auburn was often out-numbered in the box just as they were on this play. Holland's movement prevented him from being caught up in traffic and allowed him to attack the gap, the RB attempted to run through. Jake Holland was credited for being involved in 6 tackles against the Razorbacks.
  16. The Auburn offense is No. 1 nationally in rushing yardage gained inside the opponent's red zone and No. 6 in yards per rush, which is the primary reason they have been so successful once inside the opponent's 20-yard line. When they need to throw the ball inside the red zone, Auburn is No. 28 nationally in terms of pass-efficiency inside the opponent's 20-yard line. On this play Auburn faces a 3rd & 2 from the Arkansas 4-yard line. The Tigers will run their zone-read play with Nick Marshall and Tre Mason. Tre Mason has scored 12 of his 13 rushing touchdowns inside the red zone, averaging 5.08 yards per rush once inside the opponent's 20-yard line. At the snap, Nick Marshall reads the OLB and safety playing the perimeter run so he makes the inside give to Tre Mason. Marshall rides the hand off well enough to freeze the OLB and safety outside as Mason darts inside of them for the touchdown. Jay Prosch makes a great seal block on the DE to provide the running lane for Mason.
  17. Last season Auburn recorded 4 pass-plays of 40-yards or more. This season through 9 games, Sammie Coates already has 6 such plays, which is why he leads the nation in yards per reception. Coates had only 3 receptions against the Razorbacks but one of them was the longest play of his Auburn career and it was the play that basically ended any chance of a Razorback rally. On this play Auburn faces a 3rd & 7 from their own 12-yard line. The Tigers come out in a 3-WR set with Sammie Coates lined up on the boundary side by himself. The CB on Coates is showing tight coverage and the safety is playing inside of Coates in run-support. At the snap Nick Marshall play-actions with Tre Mason as Sammie Coates slips past the CB. Nick Marshall initially looks off Sammie Coates but then sets up in the pocket to make his deep throw down the sideline. The ball is under thrown but Coates makes a great adjustment on the ball, hauling in the pass at the Arkansas 49-yard line. After the CB falls to the turf, Coates continues down the side line for an 88-yard TD pass. Even though Sammie Coates has only 30 career receptions, he is close to becoming one of Auburn's top play-makers at the WR position. With 4 more receptions of at least 40-yards or more, he will tie Alexander Wright for the most 40-yard receptions since 1987. Here is the current list from 1987-2013... Alexander Wright .......... 11 Devin Aromashudu ........ 10 Frank Sanders ............... 9 Terrell Zachery .............. 8 Tyrone Goodson ............ 8 Karsten Bailey ............... 8 Sammie Coates .............. 7
  18. One of the best offensive plays during the Arkansas game was the draw-play Gus Malzahn called an audible, facing a 3rd & 10. One of the primary luxuries of going no-huddle is the additional time Malzahn has to survey the opposing defense in the event he wants to change the play. Auburn faces a 3rd & 10 from the Arkansas 11-yard line after a delay of game penalty. Before the snap, Jay Prosch shifts from his left to the right of the formation, which pulls the LB's over top to their left away from the eventual point of attack. At the snap Nick Marshall will roll to his right, pulling the LB's further to their left. As he rolls Marshall makes a delayed hand off to Tre Mason for the draw play. Tre Mason initially steps inside between the tackles, which pulls the safety inside to defend the run. Once the safety commits inside, Mason bounces the play outside to his left. With the safety taking an inside angle, Mason now has a good angle to the Arkansas end zone. Tre Mason speeds to the corner of the end zone, diving to the corner for his 4th TD of the game. The score gave Auburn the game-clinching score, going up, 35-17 in the 4th quarter.
  19. Auburn's opponent has converted 44.0% of their 3rd downs during the first-half and only 23.8% during the second-half. Entering the Arkansas game, Auburn's defense allowed only 8 of 47 conversions on 3rd down with at least 10-yards needed to convert. The Razorbacks were able to convert 3 of 5 situations of 3rd and at least 10 against Auburn. Auburn's 3-headed monster at RB has averaged 210.2 yards rushing per game thru 9 games on 6.73 yards per attempt. Auburn has record 9 individual 100-yard games this season. Auburn has 30 plays of 30-yards or more this season with 14 on the ground and 16 through the air. This includes 15 during the first-half and 15 during the second-half. 47.3% of Arkansas offensive snaps went for at least 5-yards. Auburn hit at 43.6% against the Razorbacks. Arkansas had 47 snaps during the first-half and 27 during the second-half. Auburn had no negative plays on first-down against Arkansas, the first time this season for the Auburn offense. Auburn's average score through 9 games is 37-20. My average projected score this season is 34-21. The Auburn offense has generated 87 plays of 15-yards or more this season, while the defense has allowed 64. During the first 7 games of the season Auburn began only 8 possessions on the opponent's side of the field. During the last 2 games, Auburn has started 7 possessions on the opponent's side of the field. It's critical for this trend to continue. Only 3 Auburn players were targeted in the passing game against the Razorbacks. The previous low this season was 6. Corey Grant recorded his first 2 receptions of the season against Arkansas? Auburn's defense has held the opponent to a pass-rating of less than 120 in 6 of 9 games this season. Tre Mason has been tackled for a loss only 2 times in his last 133 carries. Arkansas had 32 rush attempts during the first-half and only 14 during the second-half. During the first 6 games of the season, 67% of Auburn's plays during scoring-drives were run plays. During the last 3 games, it has increased to 80%. Last season through 5 conference games, the Auburn offense converted 75% of their short-yardage running situations. This season it has improved to 84%. Auburn's front-7 on defense accounted for only 52.8% of the team's tackles against the Razorbacks, the 2nd lowest output this season. The previous low was during the season opener against Washington State. Through 9 games, 53.9% of Auburn's offensive snaps have been part of a scoring drive. Only 34.5% of the opponent's snaps have been part of a scoring drive. Through 9 games Auburn's offense has scored a TD every 15.5 snaps. The Auburn defense allows a TD every 30.8 snaps. During the last 5 games Sammie Coates has recorded a reception, he has caught 17 passes for 471-yards and 4 TD's. That is 27.7 yards per reception. Last night marked Tre Mason's 14th career game with at least 12 carries. He has averaged 113.2 yards per game on 5.8 yards per rush, scoring 18 rushing TD's. Last season through 9 games, the Auburn defense gave up 90 points during the 4th quarter. This season it has dropped to 30 points. War Eagle!
  20. It was a blue-collar performance tonight and it's exactly what this team needed considering the health status of starting quarterback Nick Marshall. The Auburn coaching staff obviously felt they could be extremely vanilla offense and it would be enough for the Tigers to come out of Fayetteville with a victory. Auburn won the game tonight with a strong running game, strong kicking game and turnovers. Though the defense had issues stopping the run, they once again rose to the occasion inside the red zone, which was a major key to the victory. Auburn scored 28 points inside the red zone to 17 scored by the Razorbacks. Tre Mason delivered in a big way tonight as the center piece of the offense, pushing closer to his second 1000-yard season. I thought Auburn missed out on a grand opportunity to play Jeremy Johnson tonight, after going up by 18 points in the third period. He obviously wasn't needed tonight but it could have given him some valuable playing experience in the event he is needed next week against Tennessee. In terms of the game report card segment, Auburn had passing grades in all three phases of the game. It wasn't a flashy victory but an overall "team" effort. Auburn now improves to 8-1 on the season, which is a very pleasant surprise, when you considered 8-wins was close to being the ceiling before the season began. It was a solid victory in the sense that Arkansas had 2 weeks to prepare for this game and their coaching staff placed so much value in this game coming in with 5 losses. Auburn took their best shot and still came away with an 18-point victory despite having a very vanilla game plan on offense and a quarterback suffering from a shoulder injury. Auburn was the more physical team, when it counted and can now focus on the next challenge in the Tennessee Volunteers. Inside the Numbers: Tre Mason now has 921-yards on the season with an excellent shot at surpassing 1000-yards in game #10 against Tennessee. Despite only being directly involved in 17 offensive snaps, Nick Marshall finished the game with 177-yards in total offense. Auburn won the "tackle for loss" battle tonight, making that 7 of 9 games. Huge improvement from winning it only 4 times in their previous 25 games before the 2013 season began. Sammie Coates entered the game leading the nation in yards per reception and his 3 catches for 102-yards didn't hurt his average on the season. Though Auburn only attempted 9 passes tonight, they finished the game with a 249.7 pass-rating, making the most of their opportunities. Tre Mason's 168-yards rushing was the 6th best rushing performance by an Auburn RB against Arkansas during the last 23 meetings. Auburn's "yards to point" ratio on defense has been one of the best nationally this season and it showed up during the first 4 possessions of the game. Arkansas had 47 snaps for 201-yards but only 3 points to show for it. Talk about a "vanilla" game plan.... Tre Mason and Nick Marshall were directly involved in 49 of Auburn's 55 snaps. Mason and Marshall also accounted for 315 of Auburn's 366-yards in total offense. Auburn has now scored in 33 of 36 quarters this season, a huge improvement over 24 of 48 regulation quarters during 2012. Steven Clark had a solid game tonight. He downed 3 of his 4 punts inside the opponent's 20 and still finished with a 44.5 punt-average. 46 of Auburn's 55 offensive snaps came with the Tigers leading on the scoreboard against the Razorbacks. After allowing the Razorbacks to convert 7 of 10 third-down plays during the first-half, Arkansas was 2 of 6 during the second-half. Final Thoughts... It would be too easy to focus on the negative aspects of this game and come away with a distorted point of view. Auburn struggled again defending a power running team but that should have been expected. It was the one statistical edge out of 18, Arkansas held an advantage coming into the game. In the end, it wasn't remotely enough for Arkansas to overcome their turnovers early in the game. Despite having only 55 offensive snaps, Auburn still scored 35 points and finished with an efficient night on offense. Having a healthy Nick Marshall would have allowed a more wide-open game plan on offense but Auburn made the most of their simple game-plan. As I stated 2 weeks ago, this team certainly holds it's own destiny regarding conference play but they still have enough issues to drop 2-3 of their last 4 games. They are not playing championship quality football but they are giving championship caliber effort. This team is playing with heart and confidence, something they severely lacked the past couple of seasons. With each victory the fan base will naturally raise their expectation level but we should not lose sight of what this team has accomplished through 9 games. Was tonight's performance enough to beat Georgia or Alabama? Probably not but was plenty enough to put away this Arkansas team. Except for the LSU game, this team has made enough plays in every phase of the game to build an 8-1 record and a top-10 ranking. The team refers to this effort as "Wefense" and it will likely carry over in Auburn's 3 remaining regular season games. It's not the plays they made or failed to make tonight that will win future games. Those plays down the stretch remain to be seen so sit back and relax and enjoy the plays made up to this point. We have seen enough through 9 games to know by now this team will make every effort to step up for the next challenge. After suffering through a 3-9 season last year, there are plenty of reasons to celebrate Auburn's 8-1 start in 2013. War Eagle!
  21. Game #9 Statistical Evaluation (Arkansas Game) 2013 Offensive Report Card 1) Average 6-yards per play on 1st down: 7.54 (pass) 2) Convert at least 40 pct of 3rd downs: 54.5% pct (pass) 3) Average at least 4.5 yards per rush: 5.06 YPC (pass) 4) Score on 1/3 of your offensive possessions: 45.5% (pass) 5) Keep "3 and out" series under 33%: 27.3% (pass) 6) Average 8.0 yards per pass attempt: 14.8 (pass) 7) Score above 75% in red zone: 100.0% (pass) 8) TD Red Zone above 60%: 100.0% (pass) 9) Average 30-yards per possession: 33.3 YPP (pass) 10) 40% of offensive snaps being part of a scoring drive: 56.4% (pass) 11) TD / Turnover ratio above 1.6: 5 TD’s / 0 turnovers (pass) 12) TD ratio of 1 every 17 plays: 11.0 (pass) 13) 8 impact plays: 6 (fail) 14) at least 2 big plays: 1 (fail) 15) Pass rating above 125.0: 249.7 (pass) Score: 13 of 15 (86.7%) Pass Defensive Report Card 1) Average under 6-yards per play on 1st down: 5.06 (pass) 2) Convert below 35-pct of 3rd downs: 56.3% (fail) 3) Average below 4.0 yards per rush: 4.72 YPC (fail) 4) Score below 1/3 of their possessions: 30.0% (pass) 5) Keep "3 and out" series above 33%: 0.0% (fail) 6) Average below 7.5 yards per pass attempt: 4.59 YPA (pass) 7) Score below 75% in red zone: 60.0% (pass) 8) TD Red Zone Pct below 60%: 40.0% (pass) 9) Average under 30-yards per possession: 34.6 YPP (fail) 10) Less than 40% of offensive snaps being part of a scoring drive: 31.1% (pass) 11) TD / Turnover ratio below 1.6: 2 TD’s / 3 turnover (pass) 12) TD ratio of 1 every 30 plays: 37.0 (pass) 13) Less than 8 impact plays allowed: 8 (fail) 14) No more than 2 big play allowed: 0 allowed (pass) 15) Pass rating below 125.0 allowed: 87.8 (pass) 1 pt bonus for 3 T.O.'s and red zone defense Score: 11 of 15 (73.3%) Pass Special Teams Report Card: 1) Punt Average (Above 41.3): 44.5 (pass) *3 punts inside 20 2) Punt Return Defense (Below 7.8 YPR): 0.0 (pass) 3) Punt Return Offense (Above 9.8 YPR): 12.0 (pass) 4) Kick-Return Defense (Below 21.2 YPR): 87.0 (fail) 5) Kick-Return Offense (Above 22.3 YPR): 0.0 (N/A) 6) PAT’s (100%): 5 of 5 (pass) 7) FG Pct (75% or above): None (N/A) Score: 4 of 5 (80.0%) Pass Remember the key is to pass 50.0% of the categories. War Eagle!
  22. With an additional week of preparation, Arkansas likely spent extra time working on their "run-fits" for this weekend's game against the Tigers. The Razorbacks will likely place a high priority on Auburn's zone-read to make sure each defender is aligned properly and know their responsibilities. One of the benefits of Auburn's zone-read is their ability to operate it from a 4-WR set, which normally gives them a "numbers" advantage in the box. The most the opposing defense can place in the box is 7 and it's normally 6 with a safety playing high over top because of the deep-threat Auburn possesses in their passing game. On this play the FAU defense has only 5 in the box with Auburn in a 4-WR set. Because Auburn doesn't account for the DE on their right, the Tigers have a 7 to 5 advantage in the box with 5 blocking only 4. At the snap Nick Marshall reads the DE, who is playing the perimeter option. Marshall makes the inside give to Cameron Artis-Payne, who initially steps towards the "A" gap, pulling the only LB into the wash. CAP then bounces the play outside to his right, inside of the DE playing the QB option. The play results in a 19-yard gain and an Auburn first down. Note in frames #3 and #4, the open space behind the FAU line once the LB commits to the "A" gap. Also note how far Greg Robinson drives the other DE out of the picture. This allows the 4 remaining OL to double-team bother interior DL.
  23. The following is a statistical match up of Auburn and Arkansas in 18 major statistical categories. It shows both teams national rankings and how they match up coming into the game. Auburn holds a significant edge in 17 of the 18 categories. Overall Auburn has an average ranking of 35.6 compared to the Razorback's 85.1.
  24. On offense Auburn is... * No. 34 nationally in 10-yd+ plays. * No. 26 in 20-yd+ plays. * No. 6 in 30-yd+ plays. On defense Auburn is... * No. 68 nationally in allowing 10-yd+ plays. * No. 96 in allowing 20-yd+ plays. * No. 113 in allowing 30-yd+ plays. On offense Arkansas is... * No. 79 nationally in 10-yd+ plays. * No. 73 in 20-yd+ plays. * No. 84 in 30-yd+ plays. On defense Arkansas is... * No. 104 nationally in 10-yd+ plays allowed. * No. 49 in 20-yd+ plays allowed. * No. 61 in 30-yd+ plays allowed. Yards to point comparison... Auburn offense is No. 58 nationally in yards to point ratio vs. Arkansas defense that is 107th. Arkansas offense is No. 107 nationally in yards to point ratio vs. Auburn defense that is 6th nationally. Big advantage for the Tigers!
  25. The wildcat set has the potential to be explosive this season with the addition of Corey Grant on the edge and Cameron Artis-Payne operating out of the shotgun. It brings back memories of Malzahn's version while at Arkansas. (Darren McFadden running at quarterback and Felix Jones on the edge.) Clearly Grant has similar if not better speed than Felix Jones, which will freeze the defense every time because of his threat to take it the distance. CAP might not be the dynamic runner McFadden was but he does bring good vision and power as the WC-QB. On this play Auburn faces a 3rd & 1 from midfield. At the snap, Cameron Artis-Payne fakes the speed-sweep give to Corey Grant. CAP recognizes the defense is stacked between the tackles and elects to bounce the play outside to his left. Cameron Artis-Payne is able to turn the corner picking up 19-yards and an Auburn first down. The Auburn OL will have to block better between the tackles for this set to reach it's full potential. What will be interesting to see is if CAP will be allowed to throw the football on occasion just as McFadden did at Arkansas. Darren McFadden was 7 of 9 in passing during the 2006 season with 3 TD passes.
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