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  1. During the past 2 games the Auburn offense has scored 8 TD's with 9 trips to the red zone. From 1993-2014 Auburn is 80-4 in games the Tigers make at least 4 trips to the RZ, scoring TD's at least 60% of the time. This is a revealing stat, which shows just how important RZ performance is to the success of the team. Last season Nick Marshall completed 56.5% of his passes in the RZ, compiling a QB rating of 163.7. This season Marshall has completed 68.4% of his passes for a QB rating of 243.8. Marshall is No. 8 nationally in pass-efficiency inside the RZ, among QB's with at least 10 pass attempts. The play... During this play Auburn faces a 2nd & 9 from the Rebel 17-yard line. Auburn comes out in a 4-WR set with Melvin Ray and Marcus Davis on the boundary side (Davis in the slot). At the snap Nick Marshall play-actions and will immediately read how the boundary safety is playing the two WR's. Melvin Ray will run a deep square-in to clear the boundary sideline as Marcus Davis will run an out and up. The boundary safety plays the square-in route, leaving the OLB 1 on 1 with Marcus Davis. The OLB jumps the initial out-route with Davis but he looks back into the backfield to see where Marshall is focused. As the OLB looks back into the backfield, Davis breaks up the sideline towards the end zone. Marshall floats his pass towards the end zone, allowing Davis to run under the pass for the score. The play design is going to create a 1 on 1 match up and the double-move is almost a lock to create a breakdown in the secondary. This has always been one of my favorite RZ pass-plays under Malzahn. Emory Blake scored a TD in the 2010 SECCG on this same play.
  2. The name of the game in pass-offense is placing the defense in situations, which result in mismatches on the field. One of the reasons why Duke Williams has been so successful this season is the ability of Auburn to set him up for success. Though the running game is not playing at the level of last season (very few have), it still remains the primary component opposing teams must control to have defensive success against the Tigers. By lining Williams up in the slot, it is an almost given he will be covered by a LB or safety, especially on first-down. In obvious passing situations, opposing teams can bring an extra CB on the field but on first-down, opposing teams must respect the threat of the run within their base defense. The play... On this play Auburn is 1st & 10 from the MSU 36-yard line. Auburn comes out in a 4-WR set with trips to the wide-side of the field. Before the snap, Nick Marshall can see the safeties will be locked onto the boundary WR and the inside slot-receiver (Marcus Davis). This will leave Duke Williams 1 on 1 with the OLB, the match up favoring the Tigers. At the snap Nick Marshall play-actions with CAP. As Marshall drops his initial read on the safeties is correct and he knows he will have Williams 1 on 1 with the OLB. When Williams comes off the line, he will cut inside the OLB, running a seam route down the middle of the field. Marshall delivers his pass to the inside shoulder of Williams, away from the OLB. Duke Williams leaps to haul in the pass at the highest point, away from the defender. The play nets 29-yards and a first down for the Tigers inside the MSU 8-yard line. Through 6 games Duke Williams has recorded 17 impact plays in the passing game. WR Impact-plays of note: 1993: Frank Sanders (21) 1994: Frank Sanders (23) 1996: Tyrone Goodson (22) 1997: Tyrone Goodson (29) 1999: Ronney Daniels (21) 2004: Courtney Taylor (26) 2006: Courtney Taylor (21) 2009: Darvin Adams (29) 2010: Darvin Adams (23) 2012: Emory Blake (27)
  3. 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
  4. Impact or explosive plays is defined as plays of 15-yards or more. Since 1992, Auburn has averaged 7.3 impact plays per game. Impact plays account for only 11.1% of Auburn's offensive snaps but account for 50.7% of the total yardage gained on offense. Since 1992 an impact play on offense for Auburn has been worth 3.68 points. Since 1992, Auburn has compiled a record of 93-19-2, when generating at least 8 impact plays during a game. The above numbers clearly indicate why impact or explosive plays are so critical on offense. In this day & age of football, establishing long sustained drives has become more difficult, which means explosive plays are needed. The defenses in the SEC are some of the best in the country, which means SEC offenses will be challenged more frequently. Gus Malzahn Production: His offenses over the past 7 seasons have averaged 9.5 impact plays per game. An impact play in the Malzahn offense has been worth 3.82 points. Malzahn is 54-9, when producing at least 8 impact plays per game. Where are they likely to go in terms of personnel distribution? 49.2 percent of Auburn's impact plays since 1992 have come from the WR position. 34.2 percent from the RB position. 6.5 percent from the TE position. 5.4 percent from the QB position. 4.6 percent from the FB position. With Nick Marshall starting at QB, look for the QB position to dramatically increase from the above history. During the 2010 season, Cam Newton was involved in 22.2 pct of Auburn's impact plays. This doesn't account for his passing but only is running and receiving totals. With the WR position accounting for nearly half of Auburn's explosive plays, it will be interesting to see which Auburn receivers step up as impact players in 2013. Darvin Adams and Emory Blakes were key play-makers as Auburn starters. 2013 opens the doors of opportunity for players like Sammie Coates, Jaylon Denson and Ricardo Louis. Also expect C.J. Uzomah do be a major factor in explosive plays this season. He had 5 such plays on only 7 receptions during 2012.
  5. If the Auburn pass-offense is to improve in 2013, look for Sammie Coates to have a major role, especially when it comes to stretching opposing defenses vertically. The key for Coates and the other Auburn wide-receivers is consistency. Can they make plays consistently or just randomly? The Auburn pass-offense was accustomed to having a consistent performer at wide-receiver with Darvin Adams and Emory Blake the last 4 seasons. This season, Gus Malzhan is looking for several receivers to step up, including Sammie Coates. The play... On this play the Auburn offense faces a 3rd & 10, coming out in their base 3-WR look. Sammie Coates is singled out on the boundary side with a CB and safety over top. Just before the snap, the safety begins to cheat up, resulting in a sideline audible. At the snap, Coates will run a stop & go route. He will run 10-yards down, stop and then sprint down the right sideline. The safety on this play cheats up and appears to be waiting for the RB to release out of the backfield, leaving the CB 1 on 1 with Coates. The CB bites on the "stop" as Jonathan Wallace pump-fakes to sell the shorter route. This allows Coates to get the jump on the corner and a wide open vertical route down the sideline. Wallace connects with Coates for a 39-yard gain and first down. This is a play, Malzahn called often as the Auburn OC from 2009-2011, with great success. Jermaine Whitehead is able to come across the field to make the tackle, preventing a sure TD play.
  6. In theory Auburn's recruiting classes from 2009-2012 should be an intricate part of the 2013 roster with leadership and experience provided by the recruiting classes from 2009 and 2010. On paper Auburn's last 4 recruiting classes finished in the nation's top-20 and 3 classes finished in the top-10 according to Scout.com. With an average recruiting ranking of No. 8 nationally, Auburn's 2013 roster should be loaded for Gus Malzahn's first season. A closer examination of Auburn's last 4 recruiting classes will expose the reality of attrition and why you never know what you truly have until the players take to the field. The following is a breakdown of the current offensive recruits on scholarship and how their recruiting classes will effect Auburn's depth chart in 2013. There are no remaining offensive recruits from the 2009 class, which was Gene Chizik's first recruiting class. 2010 Class: There are only 5 offensive recruits remaining from the 2010 class, which means Auburn might have lost out on valuable leadership and experience on the offensive side of the football. Chad Slade is the most experienced player from the 2010 class with 25 games under his belt including 22 starts on the offensive line. Tunde Fairiyike has 24 games of experience under his belt with 2 starts at center. Trovon Reed is the only true skill player remaining from Chizik's first 2 recruiting classes but has only 2 career starts, though he seen action in 23 games. Shon Coleman was highly touted during the 2010 class but medical issues prevented him from being cleared to play until 2012. Corey Grant was a transfer but was initially recruited during 2010. As an Auburn Tiger, Grant has seen limited action in 5 games and has yet to make a start. Punter Steven Clark and kicker Cody Parkey came in through the 2010 class have become the base of Auburn's kicking game since 2011. With their return in 2013, Auburn should be solid on special teams once again. 2011 Class: Auburn's offense will obtain most of their personnel from the 2011 and 2012 classes. There are 10 offensive players remaining from the 2011 class, which was ranked No. 2 nationally. Reese Dismukes has been the most significant player from the 2011 class with 23 starts at center. Greg Robinson has the second most starts from the 2011 class with 11 at offensive tackle. Tightend Brandon Fulse has seen action in 25 games, which includes 9 starts. I terms of skill players, Tre Mason is Auburn's most dynamic and proven offensive player. He has seen action in 24 games, including 6 starts from 2012. Look for C.J. Uzomah to make a major impact in 2013, showing plenty of promise in 2012 from his tightend (H-back) position. Uzomah has 24 games of experience and 1 start as an Auburn Tiger. Quarterback Kiehl Frazier is looking for redemption after spending a season away from Gus Malzahn's offense. Frazier will be competing for the starting role with 22 games of experience and 5 starts. The quarterback race should be intense once all the candidates are on campus. Quan Bray is a receiver, who should have a better opportunity to shine in Malzahn's offense and he has 24 games of experience with 3 starts. Look for Sammie Coates and Jaylon Denson to challenge for starting roles in 2013 at wide receiver. Denson has 25 games of experience and 1 start. He is a very physical, who has demonstrated great blocking ability to this point of his career. Wide receiver Sammie Coates saw action in all 12 games during 2012 and showed great potential to be a deep threat. Like Corey Grant, Mike Blakely is a transfer who is now listed by Scout as a 2011 recruit in Auburn's class. Blakely is loaded with talent but saw action in only 6 games during 2012 with no starts. He still needs to prove he wants to be a part of this team. Chris Landrum was initially signed as a linebacker in 2011 but moved to offense (fullback) in 2012. He has seen action in 2 games. 2012 Class: The 2012 class will provide 11 bodies on offense with very little experience. Jay Prosch returns as the most significant role player with 12 starts at fullback, excluding his experience from Illinois. Offensive tackle Patrick Miller has 9 starts all coming during his freshman season (2012). Quarterback Jonathan Wallace saw action in all 12 games last season, which includes starting the last 4 games of the season. It will be interesting to see how productive Wallace will be in Malzahn's offense, which is more suited for his playing style. Offensive tackle Avery Young started the first 3 games of the season until he was injured, receiving a medical redshirt. Wide receiver Ricardo Louis saw action in 11 games as a true freshman and should be another receiver to watch for in 2013 because of his physical style and athletic ability. Six players from the 2012 class were redshirted last season, returning in 2013 for their first opportunity to contribute. This includes Ricky Parks (TE), Alex Kozan (OL), Robert Leff (OL), Will Adams (OL), Jordan Diamond (OL) and Shane Callahan (OL). Auburn's offensive line will have a youthful look with the majority of contributors coming from the 2011 and 2012 classes. * With only 1 proven RB returning in 2013 and only 2 scholarship quarterbacks returning, Malzahn's staff added JUCO players, Cameron Artis-Payne (RB) and Nick Marshall (QB) along with Devonte Danzey (OG). 2009 Review: Ten players from the 2009 class either never qualified or quit the team before the 2010 season. Auburn did obtain significant contribution from 11 players in Daren Bates, Emory Blake, Nosa Eguae, Nick Fairley, Dee Ford, Eltoro Freeman, Philip Lutzenkirchen, Onterio McCalebb, John Sullen and Demond Washington. Auburn also obtain depth services from Jonathan Evans, Travante Stallworth, Clint Moseley, DeAngelo Benton and Anthony Gulley-Morgan. The mere fact Auburn was able to utilize the services of 18 players from the 2009 class makes it a successful class. 2010 Review: The 2010 class finished with a national ranking of No. 6 in the country and still has an opportunity to live up to that billing. Ten players from the class saw either limited action or none at all and were all gone before the 2012 season. This leaves 17 players who return for 2013. Cameron Newton (QB), Michael Dyer (RB), Brandon Mosley (OT) and Corey Lemonier (DE) were part of the 2010 class, who made a significant impact, when they were on the field.
  7. The only positive thought that comes to mind regarding this season is it is mercifully over and Auburn can now move forward to better days. How and when this happens remains to be seen but just like upsetting Alabama this season, the return of Gene Chizik as Auburn's head coach in 2013 would take a miracle. Auburn can ill afford rolling the dice on this current coaching staff not after compiling a 11-14 record over the past 2 seasons. As shocking as winning the national championship in 2010 was to the nation, Auburn's complete collapse this season exceeds it. During Auburn's last 23 games, the Tigers lost 11 times by 14 or more points. No combination of two Auburn teams ever had that many blowout losses within a 23 game span. During the last 25 games, Auburn won the tackle for loss battle only 4 times. Auburn won the turnover battle only 6 times during the past 25 games. Auburn has allowed 193.8 yards rushing over the last 25 games. From 1990-2008, Auburn was penalized more than their opponent during the course of an entire season, 5 times out of 19 seasons. Under Chizik, Auburn was penalized more than their opponent in all 4 seasons. Bottom line, Auburn over the past two seasons has been plagued with turnovers, penalties, missed tackles and has been consistently beat within the trenches. This team became progressively worse as the season continued and there is not one positive aspect to make one believe better times are ahead without making massive coaching changes. Inside the Numbers: Tre Mason became the 15th Auburn Tiger to rush for over 1000-yards during a season, finishing the season with 1002-yards on 171 carries. During the 8 games he had at least 12 carries this season, Mason rushed for 858-yards on 137 carries, averaging 6.3 yards per carry. Auburn is 4-12 in their last 16 conference games, outscored by an average score of 32-15. The average score in the 12 losses was 34-9. The 2012 Auburn offense was held scoreless in half of the 48 quarters of football they played in during regulation. During the 1988 season the Auburn defense gave up a grand total of 92 points in 48 quarters of play. The 2012 defense allowed 96 points in the first quarter alone and 96 points during the second period alone. The 2012 Auburn offense scored a grand total of 224 points. The 2010 Auburn offense scored 180 points during the second quarter alone. The 2012 Auburn defense allowed 16.0 PPG during the first half this season, more than the 2004, 2005 and 2006 Auburn defenses gave up per game. From 1987-2008 Auburn averaged 9.3 yards per punt return. During the 4 seasons under Chizik Auburn averaged 6.5 yards per punt return, failing to exceed 9-yards per return in any of the 4 seasons. During the first 7 games of the season the Auburn defensive line accounted for 19 percent of the team's tackles. During the final 5 games of the season, they accounted for 30 percent. During conference play this season, Auburn converted 25 percent of their 3rd downs, while the opponent converted 45 percent. During conference play this season, Auburn quarterbacks were sacked 32 times, while the defense had only 10. Auburn had 99 offensive possessions in conference play this season, scoring on only 14. The defense defended 97 possessions, allowing 41 scoring drives. During conference play Auburn scored every 55 snaps, while the defense allowed a score every 16 snaps. The Auburn offense scored 8 offensive touchdowns in 8 conference games, while allowing 35. Auburn was outscored 272 to 81 in conference play this season. The Auburn pass-offense produced 3 TD passes in conference play along with 12 interceptions. On defense, the pass-defense allowed 16 TD passes with 0 interceptions. During the last 3 games of the season Auburn averaged 35.5 yards per punt on 17 punts. The Auburn offense gained 1881-yards on 442 snaps against conference opponents this season. In comparison, Auburn's conference opponents gained 1831-yards on 255 first down plays. Gabe Wright had his best game of the season with 8 tackles against Alabama. Emory Blake finished the season with 50 receptions for 789-yards. The final word... After falling behind 14-0, Auburn drove 40 yards on 8 plays to the Alabama 41-yard line. Facing a 4th & 5 from the Bama 41-yard line, Coach Chizik elected to punt. In a game he was favored to lose by 31, trailing by 14 in the first quarter and with a 3-8 record, Chizik elected to punt. What did he have to lose if he had gone for it and failed? This basically summed up the coaching mentality this season and why Auburn needs to go in a different direction. There were numerous times this season Coach Chizik showed a lack of faith in his players, which is why some of the players eventually showed a lack of effort as the season progressed. During a season the Auburn offense was horrible with inconsistent play by the offensive line, Tre Mason was a major breath of fresh air. The sophomore running back gained 1002-yards on just 171 carries. Speaking of Mason, did anyone notice he was carrying the football towards the defender's side, when he fumbled against Alabama? All of Auburn's running backs this season have consistently failed to move the positioning of the football away from the defender all year. Even Daren Bates moved the ball away from the defender during his fumble return for a touchdown this year. Just one example of having talent but not being fundamentally sound. Chizik likely has coached his last game at Auburn but whoever replaces him will have a major challenge in front of him and his staff. Though I believe there is better overall talent on this team compared to when Chizik arrived in 2009, Chizik's staff has failed to develop their talent mentally and physically. Auburn needs a hard-nosed coach, who will demand discipline on and off the field. The way this team collapsed during the second half of the season, it might be a wise decision to make a complete change and not retain any staff members from 2012. War Eagle!
  8. During the second half there were a few times Scot Loeffler went no huddle with an up tempo. On Auburn's second possession of the second half, the Tigers went no huddle once they reached midfield. Auburn managed to march 63-yards on 6 plays before Emory Blake was stripped of the football inside the Georgia 10-yard line. Loeffler utilized a base formation of 2-WR's, TE, RB and FB during the drive. Once they went no huddle the offense would come to the line but audible accordingly to the Bulldog secondary. Square-In... On this play Auburn has the ball at their own 43-yard line facing a 1st & 10. Before the snap, note how far the CB is playing off Emory Blake. At the snap, Jonathan Wallace will play-action with Onterio McCalebb and set up in the pocket. He has 2 extra bodies staying in for pass-protection. The slot-WR runs a vertical route to clear space inside for Emory Blake on his deep square-in route. Wallace delivers a low pass but Blake makes a great catch on the play to pick up 24-yards and an Auburn first down. At this point, Auburn will go no huddle and up tempo, moving the ball into the Georgia 10-yard line. Run-option... On this play Auburn is basically in the same formation but the WR's have swapped sides from the previous formation. This time around the Tigers will run on first down with Jonathan Wallace reading the OLB, who initially crashes down to play the QB keep. Wallace rides Onterio McCalebb until the OLB commits and hands of to McCalebb, who turns the corner for a 15-yard gain and Auburn first down. Earlier during this same possession, Wallace kept the ball for a 2-yard gain and the Tigers also attempted a flat pass to McCalebb from a similar formation. The formation allows the Tigers to utilize all of their skill players and with the no huddle added to the equation, puts additional pressure on the defense. Coach Loeffler stated this week, the Tigers are adding more to the offense and Jonathan Wallace. Hopefully we will see more no huddle when the opportunity arises to give the Tiger offense an additional competitive edge.
  9. One of the most notable improvements in the Auburn pass-offense since Jonathan Wallace has become the starter is his willingness to target receivers down field first. With Kiehl Frazier at quarterback, he averaged a pass play of 15-yards or more every 5.7 pass attempts. Clint Moseley's ratio dropped Auburn to 1 every 7.5 attempts. Jonathan Wallace currently has a ratio of 1 every 3.0 attempts. Since 1992 Auburn has averaged a pass play of 15-yards or more every 5.5 attempts. The best ratio from 1992-2012 was 1 every 4.2 attempts during the 2010 season. The play... On this play Auburn faces a 2nd & 8 from their own 34-yard line. They come out in a 2-WR set in an Ace-formation, which normally means "run". Just before the snap, Ricardo Louis motions over the backfield, posing a threat to run the ball on the end-around play. At the snap, Jonathan Wallace will play-action with Onterio McCalebb followed by a play-action with Louis on the "orbit" motion. After faking to Louis, Jonathan Wallace rolls out to his right. He will have only two pass-options with Onterio McCalebb in the flat and Emory Blake running a deep crossing route. Brandon Fulse (TE) will run a vertical route off the line, clearing space for Blake crossing over behind the TE route. Wallace delivers his pass to Blake, who picks up 24-yards and an Auburn first down. Though he only attempted 22 passes against Georgia, 6 of them resulted in plays of 15-yards or more or 1 every 3.7 attempts.
  10. One play Auburn struggled with earlier in the season was the RB screen, which Auburn failed to complete. Against Georgia, the RB's were utilized more than normal in the passing game, including a screen-pass to Onterio McCalebb, which netted 34-yards. Screen passes are a great way of neutralizing an aggressive pass-rush and Auburn was able to burn the Georgia defense with the second quarter pass to McCalebb. Onterio McCalebb has proven to be a dangerous player in space, especially in the passing game. The play... On this play Auburn faces a 2nd & 10 from their own 25-yard line. Before the snap, Brandon Fulse will shift from being adjacent to the LT to being adjacent to the right tackle. After he shifts, Emory Blake motions from a slot position on the left to a slot position to the wide side of the field. At the snap, Jonathan Wallace will focus on Fulse and Blake as Onterio McCalebb sells the pass-protection look. Onterio McCalebb then releases from the backfield as Wallace completes the screen-pass to McCalebb. Because the Georgia defense had to shift to counter the "trips" to the wide-side, McCalebb had open space on the boundary side. The play results in a 34-yard gain that came close to going all the way but a Georgia safety managed to take out McCalebb's feet from behind.
  11. With the 38-0 pounding Auburn took tonight against the Georgia Bulldogs, the Tigers have now lost 13 of their last 21 games and 10 of those 13 losses have been by 14 or more points. During the 4 years under Gene Chizik, Auburn has been defeated by at least 14 points on 12 occasions. Shug Jordan had 11 during his first 4 seasons, Barfield had 11, Dye had 3, Bowden had 2 and Tuberville had 9. The major difference among these coaches comes when you look at years No. 3 & 4. Shug Jordan had 2 losses of 14 or more points, Barfield had 4, Dye had 1, Bowden had 2 and Tuberville had 4. During the last two seasons, Gene Chizik's teams have recorded 10 losses of 14 or more points and Alabama is penciled in for No. 11. Forget about schemes, personnel, play-calling, talent and experience. The Auburn football team that has competed in their last 5 conference games simply is not prepared or developed enough to compete at the SEC level. Even with better schemes and play-calling Auburn would still remain an under developed team physically and mentally. I truly believe the players want to win and they want to compete but they severely lack direction and guidance to play at their maximum ability on a consistent basis. Even with his back against the wall and in severe jeopardy of losing his job, Gene Chizik elected to take a delay of game penalty to punt from the Georgia 34-yard line during Auburn's second possession of the game. Auburn was already trailing by 7 and were facing a superior team, yet Chizik was not willing to gamble to give his team an opportunity to score points. In one decision he basically told his offense, "I have no faith in you" and he also told his place-kicker, he had no faith he could make a 51-yard field goal. Auburn punted, which resulted in a touchback and the difference in field position was the 20-yard line rather than the 34-yard line. A team's performance often mirrors the personality of their head coach and he made no crucial coaching decisions against Georgia that could have inspired his team to play harder or at a higher level. It was the same old feeling of Auburn waiting around for something positive to happen rather than making an attempt to make it happen. Inside the Numbers... During the last 3 games, Jonathan Wallace has accumulated a pass-rating of 159.8, which includes a completion percentage of 64 percent and 9.9 yards per pass attempt. Wallace continues to show plenty of potential and upside for the future but it won't be maximized under the current coaching staff. Emory Blake recorded his 4th 100-yard game of the season, giving him 713-yards on the season. Through 10 games, Auburn has averaged 58 snaps per game, while allowing 72 to the opponent. Over the course of a 12-games season that translates to the defense having to play 2.5 extra games than the offense. Auburn has fumbled the football in 16 consecutive games. The Georgia offense gained more yardage on their 33 first down snaps (272) than Auburn did the entire game. The Auburn offense has gone "3 & out" 34 percent of the time this season. During Auburn's 8 BCS games this season, 71 percent of Auburn's offensive snaps have failed to be a part of a scoring drive. Auburn's total number of red zone opportunities had been low this season but the Georgia game marked the first time this season Auburn failed to make it to the red zone. Even though the Auburn defensive line had their highest percentage of tackles this season with 39.7 percent, the linebackers had their worst game of the season, accounting for only 20.6 percent of the team's tackles. Onterio McCalebb averaged 11.8 yards per play against the Bulldogs but had only 5 offensive touches during the game. Georgia had 297-yards from just their 10 impact plays, compared to Auburn's 49 total snaps for 238-yards. The Georgia offense averaged 9.25 yards per play during the first half, close to the 9.28 Texas A&M averaged. For the season, I have predicted Auburn to score an average of 21 points per game and they have scored 17. I have predicted the defense to allow 24 points per game and they have actually allowed 30. Overall, I've picked Auburn to win 6 times and they have won twice. I still believe there is enough talent on this team to be 6-4 rather than 2-8. 47.7 percent of Auburn's offensive snaps have come under center, where the Tigers have averaged 6.23 yards per play. While in the shotgun, the offense has averaged 4.20 yards per play. For the season, Auburn has thrown from the shotgun 74.4 percent of the time with a pass rating of 111.1. When they have thrown under center, the pass rating is 149.7. Since Wallace became the starter, Auburn has a pass rating of 104.3 under center and 145.7 in the shotgun. Final Word... In the 35 seasons I have watched Auburn football, the 2012 team is the worst team during that time period. Their record of 2-8 is dismal on it's own but the fact they have lost to teams that had less talent magnifies just how poorly this team has become. Though there have been other bad teams, they did not have the level of talent currently available in year No. 4 under Chizik. Before this season began, I felt there was a possibility the team could go 7-5 again during the regular season but I thought if it happened, Auburn would show improvement from 2011. Not only will the 2012 team not equal half the wins totaled by the 2011 squad, one could argue they failed to improve at any position on the offensive and defensive side of the football. For a coach who made his name as a defensive coordinator, Gene Chizik's defenses as head coach of Auburn have allowed 394-yards and 27 PPG, including 163-yards rushing per game. Auburn's defense in year #4 under Coach Chizik is worse than year #1. When Auburn lost those 29 seniors from 2010, Chizik's teams became more dependant upon the players recruited and developed by the current coaching staff. Since 2010, Auburn's defense has allowed 420-yards and 29 PPG, while the offense has averaged 321-yards and 22 PPG. This is either an indicator of poor recruiting or poor player development but likely a combination of both. The staggering number of self-inflicted mistakes, penalties and turnovers have become common place this season, which sadly became the personality of this team. I believe Coach Gene Chizik is a good Christian man with positive traits as a football coach but not every coach can be a successful head football coach at this level. Once you become a head coach, everything about the team will be a reflection of your ability to organize, develop and prepare your team. It's no longer about specializing over one unit or a position and it's no longer about being responsible for 10-15 players or even 35-40 as a coordinator. You are now responsible for every phase and aspect of the team including 100-115 players. There is no doubt, Coach Chizik was a solid position coach and an even better coordinator but something is missing at the final step in his coaching progression and Auburn can no longer wait to see if Chizik can somehow make that final connection. I still believe at the time of his hire, Gene Chizik was what Auburn needed because he along with his current staff (Malzhan too) positioned the Tigers into being the best team in the country, even if it was for just one season. The dynamics of the program have changed and sometimes success in short term does not translate into a long term investment. The future of Auburn deserves better, the fan base deserves better and more importantly, the players deserve better. War Eagle!
  12. It's unfortunate Onterio McCalebb and Tre Mason have been forced to play behind such a young and inexperienced line. Even with all the offensive issues and woes the Auburn offense has gone through this season, Auburn's tandem of running backs have combined for 5.77 yards per rush. The problem is that it has come on only 22.3 combined carries per game this season. Against New Mexico State both backs eclipsed the 100-yard mark, including runs of 35-yards plus by both backs, something that has not been accomplished since the UTC game in 2010. Onterio McCalebb... On this play Auburn faces a 3rd & 2 from the Aggie 38-yard line. Auburn will run their stretch play from an I-Formation with Onterio McCalebb as the RB. At the snap, Patrick Miller and Brandon Fulse double on the DE but Fulse will slide off to pick up the OLB. Patrick Miller will continue to work the DE inside opening up the "C" gap for McCalebb. Onterio McCalebb will follow Jay Prosch through the hole as Prosch tags the ILB, taking him off his feet. McCalebb explodes through the wide open hole and into the secondary with no defenders in sight. McCalebb's quickness through the hole and top-end speed allows him to go untouched to the end zone for a 38-yard touchdown. Tre Mason... Later in the game Tre Mason records his second 35+ yard run of the game. On this run Auburn has the ball at the Aggie 48-yard line, facing a 2nd &7. Once again the Tigers will run their stretch play, this time with Tre Mason at RB. This time around the Tigers run to Patrick Miller's side again but he will engage the ILB, forcing him inside as Brandon Fulse peals the DE outside to create a running lane for Mason. Emory Blake will crack back on the OLB, forcing him inside as Tre Mason follows Jay Prosch, through the "C" gap. Jay Prosch will finish off the OLB for Emory Blake to keep the running lane open and clear for Tre Mason, who darts into the secondary. Mason picks up 41-yards on the run, setting up Auburn's 5th touchdown of the game. Running the football this Saturday against the Georgia Bulldogs will be a major challenge for the Auburn offensive line. Tre Mason and Onterio McCalebb will need their touches to give Auburn a chance to be competitive. Last year the Bulldogs were the more physical and dominant team. It will be interesting to see if Auburn can repeat their performance from this year's LSU game, where they went toe-to-toe with the Bengal-Tigers.
  13. Of the many freshman players seeing action this season Ricardo Louis will be one of several to keep an eye on as his career develops. At 6-2, 210 Louis has the speed, size and strength to be an explosive player on offense for the Auburn Tigers. As a wide receiver, Louis has only been targeted 4 times this season but he has 3 receptions for 36-yards. Look for his role in the Auburn offense to expand over the last 3 remaining games. The play... On this play Auburn has the ball at their own 35-yard line with a 1st & 10. Auburn shows a 4-WR look with "trips" to the right of the formation. At the snap the Aggies will cover the run-option first and then drop into coverage. Auburn's receivers aligned to the right will clear space for Ricardo Louis running a shallow crossing route. Jonathan Wallace does an excellent job of looking off Louis until the last possible second. Louis was over 3/4 into his crossing route before Wallace engages Louis and delivers his pass. Louis hauls in the pass in stride, which allows him to turn it up field with a LB and safety chasing him for a 21-yard gain. Same play different view... Note how the ILB's and safety freeze on any possible run option at the snap. With the trips formation clearing space, Ricardo Louis runs through the vacated space before hauling in the pass. Louis utilizes his speed advantage to turn the ball up field for a 21-yard gain and Auburn first down. With Emory Blake playing out his senior season, look for Louis to push for a major role in the pass-offense in 2013.
  14. If Auburn has any chance of making the Georgia game competitive Auburn must produce big plays on offense. Over the last 25 years, 67 percent of Auburn's plays of 30-yards or more have come through the passing game, which means true freshman Jonathan Wallace will be a focal point on offense Saturday night. Through 26 pass attempts, 57.7 percent of the pass attempts made by Wallace have been vertical passes far greater than Frazier and Moseley. If Wallace is forced to throw the football more than 30 times against the Bulldogs, it will likely spell trouble for the Tigers. What Auburn needs this week from the pass-offense is quality and not quantity. Sammie Coates... On this play Auburn has a 1st & 10 from their own 30-yard line. Auburn comes out in a 2-WR set, I-Formation and the Aggies respond with 7 in the box and both safeties cheating up for run support. At the snap, Jonathan Wallace knows he has 1 on 1 coverage on Sammie Coates on the wide side of the field. There are no progressions on this play as Wallace takes the shot down field with the opportunity presented to him and the Auburn offense. Sammie Coates utilizes a shoulder-shake to get inside of the CB and creates some separation running a go-route down field. Wallace throws down field to Coates but failed to put enough air under the ball for Coates to make the reception. Had Wallace connected with Coates in stride it would have resulted in a 70-yard TD play. This is the type of play Wallace and the Auburn offense must make, when the opportunity arises against the Georgia Bulldogs. Emory Blake... On this play the Auburn offense faces a 3rd & 7 from their own 7-yard line. The pre-snap read tells Jonathan Wallace he will have 1 on 1 coverage on Emory Blake. At the snap, Wallace will look off Blake to make sure the safety over the top doesn't cheat over to play Blake. Wallace resets his feet and shoulders and throws down field to Blake, who makes the reception for a 29-yard gain. The play was initially ruled as incomplete but a review of the play overturned the initial ruling on the field. Once again, the opportunity was there for Wallace and the Auburn offense to make a play down field and they were able to take advantage of it this go around. Auburn must establish some level of a running game against UGA, enough to keep the play-action alive for Jonathan Wallace but there will be times, Georgia sells out to stop the run or blitzes, leaving 1 on 1 match ups with the Tigers receivers. This will be the critical moments of the game, Auburn will have an opportunity to produce a big play. In order for Auburn to run or pass, the offensive line will have to play their best game of the season to take advantage of any big play opportunities. There will likely be plenty of focus on Emory Blake by the Bulldog secondary, which should open the doors of opportunity for receivers like Sammie Coates and Ricardo Louis. The two WR's were targeted a combined total of 6 times during the first 5 games and 11 times during the last 6 games.
  15. One of the elements I looked forward to seeing in Scot Loeffler's offense was the range of motioning and shifting to create the most desired match ups with the opposing defense. The offensive movement before the snap will often expose what the opposing defense is attempting to do in their secondary, giving the quarterback an edge to where he will throw the football. It also creates opportunities for the WR's by matching them up with LB's and safeties in coverage. Setting up Emory Blake... On this play Auburn faces a 2nd & 12 from the Aggie 36-yard line. Auburn's initial formation is a "trips" formation to the right but Brandon Fulse will shift from adjacent side of the RT to the LT. Just before the snap, Emory Blake (slot-WR) will motion to his left outside of Brandon Fulse. At the snap, Fulse will run a vertical route and Jay Prosch will run a short route into the flat. Emory Blake will run a short square-in route settling down in the open space created by Fulse and Prosch. Kiehl Frazier play-actions with Tre Mason and initially looks down Prosch in the flat as Blake breaks into his route. Blake is left uncovered on his short route and the pass is completed for a 14-yard gain and an Auburn first down. These short and high percentage pass-plays are the type of plays we will likely see with freshman Jonathan Wallace making his first start against New Mexico State. Backfield view of same play... Here is a backfield view of the same play. You can see how Emory Blake settles in on the space vacated by Brandon Fulse. The space created is expanded laterally with Jay Prosch running s short route into the flat. Despite the offensive woes this season, Loeffler as done an admirable job of moving Emory Blake around to create opportunities for the senior wide out.
  16. One of the primary reasons for Emory Blake's success as a wide receiver at Auburn has been his precision routes he executes game after game. For the last 3 years, Blake has been a consistent performer for the Auburn Tigers with a keen ability to find the soft spots in zone coverage. Against Texas A&M, Blake hauled in 5 receptions against the Aggies for 106-yards and a touchdown. The following play is a great example of his route running ability, which allowed him to separate from double coverage. The play... On this play Auburn faces a 1st & 10 from their own 38-yard line. The Tigers come out in a 2-WR set and an I-formation. The Aggie defense responds with 8 defenders in the box and a 9th player (safety) cheating up for run support. Before the snap, Emory Blake will motion from left to right and he will have a CB and safety covering him on the wide side of the field. At the snap, Jonathan Wallace will play-action with Tre Mason and make a 5-step drop deep into the pocket. Sammie Coates on the boundary side will run a deep vertical route, which ends up clearing space for Emory Blake. The play-action freezes the LB's as Blake starts off with a slant route. He then cuts up to go vertical getting inside of both DB's covering him. He makes a second adjustment to his route and cuts back inside and across the field to the vacated area made by Coates. Wallace delivers his pass to Blake, who picks up 21-yards and an Auburn first down. Had both WR routes been covered, Tre Mason had released from the backfield uncovered for a check down route. Blake's route... This closeup view reveals how Emory Blake's double-move during his route allowed him to get inside both defensive backs to a wide open field. The space over the middle was created with the LB's freezing on the play-action and Sammie Coates pulling the CB and safety on the boundary side out of the picture on his vertical route. Career impact receptions (15-yards or more) from 1992-2012: Tyrone Goodson - 73 Courtney Taylor - 58 Darvin Adams - 52 Karsten Bailey - 49 Frank Sanders - 47 Emory Blake - 46
  17. One of the elements I looked forward to seeing in Scot Loeffler's offense was the range of motioning and shifting to create the most desired match ups with the opposing defense. The offensive movement before the snap will often expose what the opposing defense is attempting to do in their secondary, giving the quarterback an edge to where he will throw the football. It also creates opportunities for the WR's by matching them up with LB's and safeties in coverage. Setting up Emory Blake... On this play Auburn faces a 2nd & 12 from the Aggie 36-yard line. Auburn's initial formation is a "trips" formation to the right but Brandon Fulse will shift from adjacent side of the RT to the LT. Just before the snap, Emory Blake (slot-WR) will motion to his left outside of Brandon Fulse. At the snap, Fulse will run a vertical route and Jay Prosch will run a short route into the flat. Emory Blake will run a short square-in route settling down in the open space created by Fulse and Prosch. Kiehl Frazier play-actions with Tre Mason and initially looks down Prosch in the flat as Blake breaks into his route. Blake is left uncovered on his short route and the pass is completed for a 14-yard gain and an Auburn first down. These short and high percentage pass-plays are the type of plays we will likely see with freshman Jonathan Wallace making his first start against New Mexico State. Backfield view of same play... Here is a backfield view of the same play. You can see how Emory Blake settles in on the space vacated by Brandon Fulse. The space created is expanded laterally with Jay Prosch running s short route into the flat. Despite the offensive woes this season, Loeffler as done an admirable job of moving Emory Blake around to create opportunities for the senior wide out.
  18. With the loss of Philip Lutzenkirchen, Auburn has become more reliant upon CJ Uzomah and Brandon Fulse. At 6-4, 250 CJ Uzomah has become the primary target at the TE position, when it comes to the pass-offense. Auburn quarterbacks have thrown to him 7 times in the last 2 games and Uzomah has caught 5 for 113-yards, including his first touchdown reception as an Auburn Tiger. The TD reception... On this play Auburn has the ball at the TAMU 27-yard line facing a 2nd & 7. Before the snap Onterio McCalebb who is lined up wide right like a receiver will motion back into the backfield on a "speed sweep" look. The Aggie defense has 8 defenders in the box with Tre Mason in the backfield too and Jonathan Wallace in at quarterback. CJ Uzomah is initially positioned in the backfield just behind the LT as an H-back. At the snap Chad Slade will pull left as Wallace play-actions with McCalebb coming on the speed sweep. This movement forces the Aggie defense to shift to their right to defend what appears to be a run play. While the defense shifts right, CJ Uzomah sneaks out of the backfield to his right, releasing into the flat uncovered. Jonathan Wallace rolls to his right with a DE coming at him off the backside of the play. Emory Blake, who was lined up on the boundary side, will run a vertical route to clear the right flat and sideline for Uzomah. Wallace delivers the pass over the DE to Uzomah in stride and the TE rumbles down the side line for a 27-yard TD play.
  19. In what was perhaps one of the worst games in school history, freshman quarterback Jonathan Wallace brought a ray of sunshine during the game as he saw his most significant action this season against Texas A&M. Scot Loeffler was finally allowed to cut the freshman loose and he responded with explosive play. Wallace finished the game with 122-yards passing on just 9 pass attempts for 2 TD's. He added an additional 70-yards rushing on 13 carries playing basically one half of football. The run... We had already seen what Jonathan Wallace brought to the game, operating within the wildcat package. On this play Auburn will run their zone-read play with Jonathan Wallace and Onterio McCalebb in the backfield. At the snap, Chad Slade (RG) and Jay Prosch pull right to left as Wallace reads the movement of the LB's. If the LB's play the inside run with the QB, Wallace will hand off to McCalebb, who will sweep left. On this occasion, the LB's play the give to McCalebb (sweep) so Wallace tucks the ball and runs inside of Jay Prosch. Chad Slade seals the edge by crushing the DE into the line and Prosch kicks out the ILB, giving Wallace an inside running lane for a 10-yard gain. Play-action pass... On this play, Auburn faces a 1st & 10 from the Aggie 27-yard line. Auburn shows a similar formation from the previous run and the Aggies counter with 8 men in the box to counter Auburn's run look. At the snap, Jonathan Wallace will play-action with Onterio McCalebb as Emory Blake and Travante Stallworth break into their routes. Emory Blake is lined up in the slot and will run a go-route, overlapping Stallworth's post route. As Stallworth breaks into his vertical post-route, Emory Blake loops over his back to the sideline. Jonathan Wallace later stated Blake was his second read on the play. The key was the safety over the top (not in view) and which receiver he will key on. He elects to double up on Stallworth, which leaves Emory Blake 1 on 1 with the remaining safety. Jonathan Wallace delivers a nice arching pass Blake was able to run underneath for the 27-yard touchdown.
  20. If Auburn is going to have offensive success against Vanderbilt it will primarily come from the running game. Vanderbilt has been very solid against the pass but have been gashed by opposing run-offenses. The Tigers must remain committed to their running game, something they strayed away from during the second half of the Ole Miss game. During the first half of the Ole Miss game, Auburn ran the ball 81 percent of the time on first down, scoring 17 points. During the second half, Auburn ran the ball 62 percent of the time on first down before Ole Miss extended their lead to 34-20. Auburn scored only 3 points during the second half. Onterio McCalebb... Onterio McCalebb has had more success than not running from the I-formation. The majority of his negative plays have come, when Auburn sends McCalebb to the edge on perimeter plays. When he has lined up in the I-formation, McCalebb has run the stretch-play, sweep and toss-sweep. On this play, Auburn lines up in an I-formation but after a safety cheats up to come off the edge, Auburn shifts Philip Lutzenkirchen from right to left and Jay Prosch moves out of the I to set Auburn up in an Ace formation. At the snap, Prosch picks up the safety off the edge and Emory Blake drives the CB outside to give McCalebb an inside running lane. McCalebb gained 8-yards on a first down play. Tre Mason & Onterio McCalebb... More sets with both backs on the field at the same time, forces the defense to focus on both backs rather than one. With Clint Moseley starting for the second week, it increases the need to have an extra set of feet on the field to keep the running game alive. The above play is a prime example of the defense having to defend both running options. The Tigers have found previous success with the end-around play with McCalebb, so the defense has to freeze for a split second to defend both run options. On this play, Tre Mason takes the inside hand off, cutting back away from the "B" gap to a running lane behind the over pursuing Ole Miss defense. The play also was keyed by a Jay Prosch block on the backside against the opposing DE. Tre Mason once again needs to be the focus of the running game but Mike Blakely needs to be involved this week to keep Mason fresh.
  21. After carrying the football only 15 times combined from the LSU and Arkansas games, Tre Mason had 18 carries against Ole Miss during Auburn's 20-41 loss last Saturday. One of the primary concerns in featuring one running back is his ability to pass-protect and to be a reliable receiver out of the backfield. Tre Mason has only 2 receptions on the season but they have gone for 34 and 22-yards. Though his pass-protection has been questionable at times this season, it is an area he is improving on, which was displayed on the following play. The play... On this play Auburn faces a 3rd & 5 from their own 30-yard line. Auburn comes out in a tight formation with "trips" to the left and a TE on the opposite side. Scot Loeffler has a pass play called, which will place Emory Blake 1 on 1 with a safety playing over the top. Quan Bray and Jaylon Denson will run clearing routes outside and inside to create space for Blake running a square-in route between the other 2 WR's. The key to the play is the block by Tre Mason, who picks up the DT that beat John Sullen with a swim move over top. If Mason doesn't pick up the DT, he likely sacks or at least makes contact with Clint Moseley as he is attempting his pass to Emory Blake. Because Mason picked up the DT, Clint Moseley is able to step into his throw, completing his pass to Blake, who picks up 16-yards and an Auburn first down.
  22. For nearly 3 quarters the Auburn Tigers fought diligently on the road against Ole Miss but in the end it was the same nagging issues that came back to haunt the Tigers turning a close fought game into another blowout loss. The Tigers dug an early hole when the Auburn defense collapsed during their first series (giving up a touchdown) followed up with another episode of self –destruction (fumble resulting in a touchdown). The Auburn offense had taken only 8 offensive snaps, when they found themselves trailing by 14 points in the first period. To their credit Auburn managed to climb out of the early hole putting together their finest quarter of football this season. The Auburn offense scored 17 points during the second period, allowing on 3 on defense. The majority of Auburn’s 153 first half yards came during the second period but it ended up being the Tigers last offensive stand accept for a field-goal drive during the third period. Auburn gained only 60-yards during the final half of the game and 51 of those yards came during the third period field-goal drive. Auburn ended up going “3 & out” in 5 of their final 7 possessions of the game. The Auburn defense held the Rebel offense to 186-yards during the first half but were blitzed for 265-yards during the second half. Just as the offense and defense rallied together for a 17-17 first-half tie, the two units collapsed together during the second half. Though some will believe the team quit on the field, I did not see it that way. With the majority of the third quarter completed, Ole Miss held a 27-20 lead, facing a 3rd & 16. The Auburn defense pressured the Ole Miss quarterback into a check-down pass to their running back, which appeared to be held to an 8-yard gain. Just as it occurred in the Clemson game, the middle linebacker failed to complete his tackle, assuming the runner was down, when he was not. The Rebel running back raced the remaining 47-yards for a touchdown, giving Ole Miss a 34-20 lead. This was the very play that broke the back of the team, which was immediately followed by a Clint Moseley interception that set up the Rebels final score of the game. Inside the Numbers... * After compiling a quarterback rating of 194.5 during the first half, Clint Moseley posted a pass rating of just 28.5 during the second half. * Clint Moseley was 3 of 3 passing on first down during the first half and 1 of 5 during the second half. * The Auburn defense allowed a season high, 10 impact plays or plays of 15-yards or more. * For the sixth game in a row, Auburn lost the turnover battle (0-2), with both turnovers resulting in a Rebel touchdown. * Of Mosley’s 18 pass attempts, 50% were attempted within 5-yards of the line of scrimmage. * Auburn was 4 of 8 on third down during the first half and 1 of 7 during the second half. * The wildcat package with Jonathan Wallace netted 14-yards on 6 carries. It was part of 2 scoring drives out of 4 possessions it was implemented. * Daren Bates performed like a senior player should, finishing the game with a team high, 16 tackles. * Auburn actually won a rare tackle for loss battle with the Tigers having 10 and the Rebels having 9. * Auburn made an effort to establish the run with Tre Mason having 18 carries for 82-yards and 2 touchdowns. The majority of his carries (13) came during the first half. * Auburn averaged 7.8 yards on first down during the first half, while allowing 5.8 yards on defense. During the second half, Ole Miss averaged 7.2 yards on first down, while Auburn dropped to 4.8 yards. * Steven Clark had his best game of the season averaging 46.7 yards on his 7 punts against the Rebels. * Auburn failed to take advantage of having 4 possessions less than 60-yards away from the Rebel’s goal line. The Tigers scored 2 times, totaling 10 points. * Despite only attempting 18 passes, Clint Moseley targeted 8 different players. Emory Blake was the most targeted with 7 passes thrown his way and Jay Prosch record his first reception of the season, setting up an Auburn short yardage touchdown. * Of the 25 Auburn offensive snaps during the second half, 17 went for 2-yards or less. * 59.3 percent of the offensive snaps against Ole Miss was from the shotgun formation. The Auburn offense averaged 2.06 yards per play with the quarterback in shotgun and 5.88 yards per play with the quarterback under center. Final Words... With Auburn losing its fifth game of the season, this now becomes the worst start by an Auburn team (1-5) since 1998, when the Tigers finished 3-8. This was the final season of the Terry Bowden era and this year’s poor start could be the precursor to another coaching change. The entire Auburn family from the coaches to the players and to the fans is on the fringe of a total meltdown. Though the shortcomings of this season can easily be explained, it becomes nearly impossible to comprehend its occurrence in year No. 4 of a rebuilding process. Just when it appeared the 2011 Auburn Tigers bottomed out last season, the 2012 version has taken it to another level of disappointment. When everything about the football program including those responsible for its daily operations are being questioned, a strong revaluation of the current condition is inevitable. If a decision is made to retain Coach Gene Chizik for 2013, it will likely come with multiple staff changes. The question is no longer how Auburn arrived at the crossroads they now face but what direction will it take, when this season is mercifully over. If the decision is made to go in an entirely different direction, the primary concern is not so much with the new head coach but who will make the hire. One would assume any form of revaluation might go as high as the athletic director but it’s mere assumption and speculation at this point. Normally during a season like this, staff changes of some type are warranted. If major changes are considered, it will obviously effect the program long term. Changes to only assistant coaches could be sufficient enough to turn this program back into the right direction and a complete change from the head coach down could simply create the same issues with different faces in place calling the shots. There is no perfect solution and any change brings the possibility of improvement or failure. This is why it is imperative for calm minds to prevail. Terminating the employment of current staff members is the easy part, replacing them with quality individuals can become problematic. Regardless of how this season plays out, any changes made should solely be based on the perceived direction of the program under the current staff. So where do the players stand in all of this? After the Arkansas loss, multiple stories broke in the media regarding verbal statements made by multiple players commenting on team chemistry issues. It certainly painted the image of a team combating a lack of leadership and work ethics. With their third loss by 17 or more points, how inspired will the players be to compete during the second half of the season? In theory, all the coaches can do at this point is to continue to work at resolving the same issues that have surfaced in just about every game this season. Does this team have the heart and will to compete and more importantly, improve? No one is suffering more from this dismal season than the players and coaches, which makes you wonder when we will see Auburn football once again. War Eagle!
  23. Auburn is supposed to be a run first to set up play-action passing offense. Emory Blake was targeted 13 times against Arkansas, catching 10 passes for 118-yards. On the other hand, Tre Mason was targeted 8 times with 6 rushes and 2 passes thrown his way. Does this make sense for what is supposed to be a run-first offense? Loeffler is smart when it comes to football but I think there has been so much emphasis placed on repairing a struggling pass-offense, the true strength of the offense has been neglected. In short, he has out-coached himself. Auburn finished the game with 65 plays, which broke down to 35 pass plays and 30 run plays. In reality the sacks were pass plays, which meant AU had 43 pass plays and only 22 designed run plays. One of those 22 runs was a positive gain by Frazier after escaping the pocket. So now it's 44 pass plays and 21 run plays. Reverse those numbers around and It's a far more competitive game and a likely win considering the score was 10-7 late in the 3rd period. At minimum, there would not have been 8 sacks and 3 picks.
  24. After what appeared to be a step forward during a close loss to LSU 2 weeks ago, the Auburn Tigers took 3 steps backwards with an embarrassing performance against a struggling Arkansas team. The game was Auburn's 7th loss by 14 or more points in their last 16 games and their 9th overall under Gene Chizik. The Auburn defense started off slowly but after the first 2 possessions, the Tigers held Arkansas to 20-yards or less in 6 of the next 7 possessions. The defense did enough to keep Auburn in the game through the first 3 quarters but the Auburn offense failed to score during their first 9 possessions of the game. The stagnant Auburn offense resulted in a quarterback change at halftime but the Tigers managed just 1 scoring drive during the second half and 3 additional turnovers. When the offense finally generated a touchdown, the defense collapsed on the subsequent series. The offensive line played perhaps their worst game of the season, making Arkansas look like a top-10 defensive front. I'm not sure if Avery Young played on offense this week (I don't recall seeing him) but his recent benching has been a "head scratcher" to say the least. Auburn had two weeks to prepare for this game against a defensive opponent, one of the worst in the nation. Auburn finished with 321-yards, 7 points, 5 turnovers and 8 sacks. Auburn managed to snap their 16-game consecutive streak of being held under 200-yards passing. Though I understand the concept of changing quarterbacks to possibly ignite the offense, Auburn is now back to where they were last year, in terms of quarterback identity on offense. I thought Moseley did okay but the two interceptions were costly. Arkansas did a terrific job of neutralizing Auburn's defensive ends by chipping them off the line with their TE. Not only was the chip effective in slowing down the pass-rush, the Razorbacks also cashed in with the TE releasing into the flat after the chip to generate 3 impact plays off the same play. Tre Mason finished the game with just 6 carries, which is perplexing since he has been Auburn's most efficient and consistent running back. Mike Blakely has the potential to be a solid running back but I don't understand why the coaches have been so reluctant in allowing Mason to be the featured back. How are any of the backs expected to develop a rhythm on 6-9 carries per game? At minimum, it certainly doesn't make sense that he has a grand total of 15 carries during the last 2 game. Inside the Numbers… The Auburn offense was more effective on first down this Saturday, finishing with 6.5 yards per play. Auburn averaged 5.1 yards on first during the first half and 7.6 yards during the second half. Auburn's opponent has averaged more yards on first down plays in 17 of the last 22 games, which includes 10 of the last 11 games. Kiehl Frazier finished the game with a pass rating of 120.8 and Clint Moseley finished with a 123.8 rating. The "spark" attempt failed for the most part and now the coaches are faced with the beginning stages of a quarterback controversy. Auburn has scored a total of 15 offensive touchdowns during their last 10 conference games and 5 of those came against Ole Miss last season. Emory Blake recorded his 6th career 100-yard game with 10 receptions for 118-yards. Blake is currently on pace for an 800-yard season. 11 different players were targeted in the Auburn pass-offense against Arkansas. Emory Blake has been targeted 23 times during the last 2 games. DeAngelo Benton, Jaylon Denson and Ricardo Louis recorded their first receptions of the season. In only 2 of Auburn's last 16 games, Auburn has registered more tackles for loss than their opponent. Their opponent has consistently won the line of scrimmage. During the 28 conference games under Gene Chizik, Auburn has recorded more tackles for loss than their opponent only 5 times. Auburn's quarterbacks were sacked 8 times and hurried 7 times against Arkansas. Auburn's defensive line accounted for 18.8 percent of the tackles, their lowest output all season. Auburn has scored in 60.0 percent of their regulation quarters through 5 games, the 3rd worst percentage over the past 32 seasons (1981-2012). In 9 of their last 16 games, Auburn has been shutout during the 4th period. During the past 2 seasons, Auburn has been outscored in the second period, 146 to 67 and 100 to 54 during the 4th quarter. With Auburn falling to 1-4 on the season, it marks only the 4th time Auburn has began the season with only 1 victory during their first 5 games since 1951. The 1952 team went 2-8, the 1975 team went 4-6-1 and the 1998 team went 3-8-0. With one of the worst offenses at the FBS level this season and a Jekyll and Hyde defense, it's not likely this team will win enough games to garner a bowl invitation. The concern for the current coaching staff is whether or not the team will begin to slip away from them. Auburn came into the season with a lack of senior leadership, which makes the coach's job even more difficult to keep their personnel focused. At this point Auburn needs to treat each game like a 1 game season. The only goal should be improving execution and nothing more. Before Auburn can win another game, they must win the possession and before they win the possession, they have to win the play. Not only do the players need to look in the mirror but the coaches also need to revaluate their preparation during game week and their game plans for Saturday. With the extra week off, it appears the players and coaches missed out on the opportunity to improve. Arkansas came into the game with only 2 forced turnovers and 4 sacks on the season. Against Auburn the Razorbacks had 8 sacks and 5 forced turnovers. For every offensive touchdown Auburn has scored this season, they have turned the ball over 3 times. The self-inflicted miscues this team has battled through this season is a strong indicator of how poorly prepared the Tigers have been this year. As long as this continues Auburn will fail to perform consistently and will fall victim to additional lopsided defeats. Should Auburn finish the season 3-9 or 4-8 with 5-6 blowout losses, it would certainly require a strong consideration for changes all the way to the top of the program. It's not about where the team is now but how they arrived here and what direction are they taking from this point on. Initially 2011 was thought to be a steppingstone for 2012 and 2012 has now turned into a steppingstone for 2013. How many stones must this program now take after 4 years to prevent being stepped upon?