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  1. Though the Gene Chizik era is completed at Auburn, there will always be lingering questions and thoughts on what went wrong. How can a team win a National Championship and falter so far two years later? Auburn's two-year record after winning it all during 2010 was the worst collapse by any previous National Championship team since 1970. We could explore all the rational possibilities of what went wrong but it can simply be summed up in one sentence. Gene Chizik failed to obtain the most of his players. The 2012 Auburn roster wasn't sufficient enough to win another BCS National Championship but it certainly was good enough to win more than 3 games. Legendary football coach Vince Lombardi once said, "Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect." The final product we witnessed on Saturday's last season was the end result of Auburn's preparation for their opponent as well as their season. It was the final exam for those spring and fall camps along with the conditioning programs and voluntary workouts. The climate and working environment for the players had to be established by the Auburn coaches. Most players at this level are obviously talented but sometimes their self-motivation can be lacking. This is where the magnitude of coaching comes into play and why "responsibility" falls upon the shoulders of everyone associated with the football program. "Coaches who can outline plays on a black board are a dime a dozen. The ones who win get inside their player and motivate." - Vince Lombardi When Gus Malzahn returned to Auburn as the new head coach, he made a commitment to work towards retaining Auburn's "edge". By this he meant for Auburn to once again be a tougher team not just physically but mentally. In order to obtain the most from a team, you have to demand more from your team. This thought process was immediately placed into action during conditioning drills, which carried over to spring camp. The new Auburn coaching staff had to preach the concept of championships being won from February to August.Though recruiting talent and depth is a key ingredient for success in college football, it can only be maximized by obtaining the most of your personnel. Before these young men can win, they must understand how not to lose. "Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence." - Vince Lombardi As the 2013 season draws near, Auburn fans will be focused on the players and their potential for success. The Southeastern Conference is loaded with talent, which means coaching and preparation will likely decide which teams garner the most success. As the season progresses, we will finally see the fruits of the players and coaches labor. Did they put the time and effort into improving? Improvement doesn't need to be judged on wins and losses. The 1972 Auburn team was given no chance to be successful during preseason but the coaches and players prepared for success. The 1981 Auburn Tigers finished the season 5-6 but it was clear for everyone to see the direction Pat Dye had his team directed. The 1993 Auburn Tigers was not a "great" team but a team that played great "together". There is enough talent to win now for the 2013 Auburn Tigers but there are enough lingering depth and talent issues at some positions that should keep expectation levels reasonable. If you are doing things the right way in preparation, the winning aspect will eventually take care of itself. Will Gus Malzahn's staff excel as "teachers" and not just coaches? Will the players grasp the concept of playing hard on every snap? Will Auburn be able to punch back after being punched? These are the type of questions most Auburn fans want to know about Gus Malzahn's first Auburn team. No one wants Auburn to win more than the players and coaches. The key to success for this Auburn team will be the understanding that they will receive in return what they committed to during the last 6 months. War Eagle!
  2. I have often heard it suggested how Chizik owed most of his success at Auburn to Gus Malzahn. How accurate is this statement? Consider the following... Yardage gained on offense (2009-2011): 400-yards has often been the bench mark for offensive success during a game. So how often did Auburn reach 400-yards under Malzahn? 24 of 40 games (60.0%) with a record of 23-1 in those games. Auburn was held to under 300-yards with Malzahn in 5 of 40 games (12.5%) with a record of 1-4. Points scored on offense (2009-2011): 30-points tends to be the bench mark for offensive success. How often did Auburn reach it under Malzahn? 22 of 40 games (55.0%) for a record of 22-0. Auburn was held to under 21 points 9 times under Malzahn (22.5%) with a record of 3-6. How did the defense perform during the same time period? Yardage allowed on defense (2009-2011): Under 300-yards has often been the bench mark for defensive success during a game. So how often did Auburn hold their opponent to under 300-yards from 2009-2011? 10 of 40 games (25.0%) with a record of 9-1 in those games. Auburn allowed over 400-yards in 15 of 40 games (37.5%) with a record of 11-4. How was Auburn yield a record of 11-4 despite allowing 400-yards to the opponent? Malzahn's offense averaged 413-yards and 33 PPG in those 15 games. Points surrendered on defense (2009-2011): Holding the opponent to under 21 points tends to be the bench mark for defensive success. How often did Auburn reach it from 2009-2011? 11 of 40 games (27.5%) for a record of 11-0. Auburn allowed 30 or more points 17 times from 2009-2011 (42.5%) with a record of 9-8. Auburn managed 9 victories because Malzahn's offense averaged 33 PPG in those 17 games, where 30 or more points were allowed on defense. The above numbers confirm the offense performed at a "winning" pace far more often than the defense and allowed fewer blunders than the defense. Now that Malzahn is back, the key question is how well will the Auburn defense perform under Ellis Johnson with Gus Malzahn as the head coach? Here are Johnson's percentages as DC from 2000-2011. Held 43 of 110 opponents to under 300-yards (39.1%). Allowed 400-yards or more in 25 of 110 games (22.7%) Not championship numbers but far better production than what we witnessed on defense from 2009-2011. Higher percentage of "winning" performances and fewer blunders than the Auburn defense. Held 55 of 110 opponents to under 21 points (50.0%) Allowed 34 of 110 opponents to score 30 or more points (30.9%). Again, not championship numbers but far better performance than what Auburn produced on defense from 2009-2011. During last stop as a DC (South Carolina), Johnson's numbers improved... 24 of 52 opponents held under 300-yards (46.1%) 10 of 52 gained over 400-yards (19.2%) 28 of 52 opponents held to under 21-points (53.8%) 13 of 52 scored 30 or more points (25.0%) If Auburn can combine the consistency of Malzahn's offense with the consistency South Carolina had under Ellis Johnson, Auburn could field a championship caliber team. On a side note, the percentage for 400-yard games by SEC teams (2000-2012) is currently 42.5%. The percentage for 30-point games on offense by SEC teams is 38.8%. Malzahn far exceeded these standards during his time as Auburn's OC. On defense, SEC teams have held their opponent to under 300-yards, 37.3% of the time and have held their opponent to under 21-points, 50.2% of the time from 2000-2012. Johnson as Carolina's DC exceeded these standards as well.
  3. From 2007-2012, teams within the FBS level averaged 74.8 yards in lost yardage per game, stemming from penalties and tackles for loss. The majority of the lost yardage (69.9%) comes from penalties. During the 4 seasons under Gene Chizik, Auburn became a highly penalized team, which resulted in an excessive amount of lost yardage. Here is Auburn's average national ranking in lost yardage since 2007... 2007: 47th 2008: 58th 2009: 108th 2010: 50th 2011: 77th 2012: 84th Last season, Auburn averaged 81.6 yards in lost yardage per game. The lost yardage compounded Auburn's issues of an inefficient offense and a defense that found it difficult to get off the field. From 1990-2008, Auburn was penalized more than their opponent during the course of a season, only 5 of 19 seasons. During the Chizik era, Auburn was penalized more than their opponent during all 4 seasons. This is an area Malzahn's staff must address because it often speaks volumes in terms of team discipline. It should be noted Auburn finished at No. 75 last season in penalties and Arkansas State was No. 33 under Malzahn. Speaking of penalties, Alabama under Nick Saban has become the 3rd least penalized team in college football from 2007-2012 and No.1 in the SEC. Are they truly that disciplined? Saban's teams at LSU had an average ranking of No. 58. Alabama from 2000-2006 had an average ranking of No. 65. Alabama under Saban currently has an average ranking of No. 10 over the past 6 seasons. The academy programs are the only teams that compete with Alabama in this category. Navy's average ranking over the past 6 seasons is No. 2, Army is No. 9 and Air Force checks in at No. 18. During the last 6 seasons, Alabama has cracked the nation's top-25 in fewest penalties all 6 years. During that time span, only 7 other SEC teams have graced the top-25 combined. Gee... what are the odds?
  4. Since 1970, Auburn's average margin of defeat during it's 164 losses has been by 13.7 points. Broken down by coaches: Barfield .......... 13.7 Dye ............... 10.4 Bowden .......... 12.4 (This includes the entire 1998 season) Tuberville ...... 13.4 Chizik ............. 20.9 Here is the average margin of defeat for all the Auburn teams with at least 4 losses since 1970: During the 12 years under Pat Dye, his teams were defeated by 20 or more points, 7 times. During only 4 years under Gene Chizik, Auburn was defeated by 20 or more points, 10 times. That's 1 every 20.3 games for Dye and 1 every 5.2 games under Chizik.
  5. During the 4 seasons Gus Malzahn was an offensive coordinator in the SEC, his offenses generated at least 24 points in 22 of 34 SEC games or 64.7 percent of the time. At Auburn, the Tigers scored at least 24 points in 56.0 percent of their conference games under Gus Malzahn. In comparison, Auburn scored at least 24 points in conference play, 45.9 percent of the time from 2000-2008. In terms of overall conference play, SEC teams have scored at least 24 points in conference play, 49.1 percent of the time from 2000-2012. This means Malzahn has finished above standard during his 4 seasons as an OC in the SEC as well as the 3-year period as Auburn's OC. How important is the 24-pt mark in conference play? Overall, Malzahn's teams in the SEC were 19-3 in conference play, when reaching 24 points and 13-1 at Auburn. From 2000-2008, Auburn compiled a record of 33-1, when scoring at least 24 points against SEC competition. From 2000-2012, SEC teams compiled a win percentage of .772 by scoring at least 24 points. This basically equates to a 6-2 record in conference play, if you can reach 24 or more points in all 8 conference games. Auburn's record of 33-1 from 2000-2008, when reaching 24 points also stresses how important "defense" is in this conference. Tuberville's teams managed to win 42 percent of their conference games with less than 24 points scored, while Chizik's teams managed to win only 16 percent. From 2000-2012, Florida leads the league with 70 games of at least 24 points in conference play. The remaining pecking order is as follows... Georgia (68), Alabama (67), LSU (66), Arkansas (62), Tennessee (52), Auburn (48), Ole Miss (44), Kentucky & South Carolina (42), Miss State (33) and Vanderbilt (29) War Eagle!
  6. Gene Chizik called them "explosive" plays and Gus Malzahn often refers to them as "wow" plays. I have always referred to them as "impact" plays but no matter what name they are given, they have a heavy influence on the outcome of games. Since 1992 Auburn has compiled a record of 99-21-2 (.820), when they record at least 8 plays of 15-yards or more during a game and a record of 73-63 (.536) with 7 or less. Since 1992 an impact play has been worth 3.7 points to an Auburn offense and 3.9 points in a Gus Malzahn offense. During the 3-year period Malzahn was the offensive coordinator at Auburn 79.3 percent of Auburn's 203 scoring possessions had at least 1 impact play during the drive. During his 7-years as an offensive coordinator, his offense averaged 42.3 PPG with at least 8 impact plays and 24.3 PPG with 7 or less. Auburn's offense from 1992-2012 has averaged 35.3 PPG with at least 8 impact plays and 19.9 PPG with 7 or less. During the 218 games before and after Gus Malzahn was Auburn's offensive coordinator, the Tigers averaged 7.0 impact plays per game and 1 every 9.5 plays. Under Gus Malzahn, the Auburn offense averaged 8.8 impact plays per game and 1 every 7.6 snaps. Malzahn's offense is designed to take advantage of personnel mismatches and making plays in space. Overall, Malzahn's 7 collegiate offenses averaged 9.5 impact plays per game and 1 every 7.4 snaps. During the 3 seasons Gus Malzahn was the Auburn offensive coordinator, the wide receivers were responsible for 43.9 percent of the impact plays followed by the running backs at 39.3 percent. The quarterbacks accounted for 12.5 percent primarily because of Cameron Newton (2010) and the tight ends were responsible for 4.3 percent. A player like Onterio McCalebb would not have been utilized as much in a more traditional styled offense because he was never an every down back. At Auburn within Malzahn's offense, he led all running backs with 52 impact plays. He finished his career with over 3000 offensive yards on 6.9 yards per play. Not bad for a role player. Since 1992, Auburn's offense has generated 1882 impact plays with 66 percent coming via the pass-offense. The ratio of impact plays has basically been 2 to 1, pass to run, which is why the Auburn pass-offense must improve from 2011 and 2012. The 2013 personnel should provide plenty of fire power in the running game but the pass-offense remains a major question mark. The 2010 Auburn offense produced a school record 144 impact plays and is the only Auburn offense over the past 20 seasons that produced more impact plays in the running game than the passing game. Cameron Newton made a major impact to the Auburn offense, making the Gus Malzahn offense even more dynamic with an athletic quarterback pulling the trigger on the offense. With the current personnel at quarterback, the athletic ability available should give Auburn the potential to be more dynamic than Malzahn's 2009 offense if the passing game is consistent. There are fewer 10 play drives in college football today, especially during the conference battles found in the Southeastern Conference. This is why impact plays play a much bigger role in determining offensive productivity. With every yard and point scored being so precious, the teams capable of getting them by the bunches have the best opportunity to score. Texas A&M took the conference by storm last season, when it came to offense and the Rebels of Ole Miss rebounded with their version of the spread offense. It will be interesting to see Gus Malzahn's offense with limited restrictions in 2013.
  7. 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.
  8. Auburn's new coaching staff under the direction of Gus Malzahn has a major task facing them in terms of returning Auburn to a position, where they are truly competitive in the best conference in the country (football). Yesterday, I posted a statistical model of the previous participants and winners of the SECC game from 2000-2013. With this in mind, here is a comparison of Auburn's statistical averages over the past 4-years. Though nothing is a given, it does give the viewer a better understanding of where Auburn is now and where they need to go to become relevant in the conference. The following data is broken down in the following manner... The first column shows the 13 statistical categories in question. The second column shows the statistical averages of the 26 SEC participants in the conference championship game, along with the 2011 Alabama team. The third column shows the statistical averages of the winner of the SECCG from 2000-2012 along with the 2011 Alabama team. The next four columns labeled 2009-2012, show Auburn's statistical averages during those seasons. The final column shows Auburn's statistical average during the 4-years under Gene Chizik. The numbers in red are primary concerns. The numbers in blue reveal, when Auburn was competitive among the conference's elite teams. The above numbers reveal Auburn has been statistically competitive over the past 4-years in run-offense, PR-defense, KR-Defense and KR-offense. We all know Auburn struggled on defense under Gene Chizik the past 4-years but the above numbers reveal just how poorly they were and how much work Ellis Johnson has cut out for him and his assistants on defense. Keep in mind the SEC team with the highest statistical rankings during the last 13 SECC games is 12-1. The Florida Gators in 2009 was the only team to lose to a lesser statistically ranked opponent (Alabama). The SEC-East is 5-1 and the SEC-West is 7-0 during the last 13 conference championships.
  9. When someone transcends outside the cultural norm, the preexisting culture tends to protect itself. Coach Gus Malzahn was a part of and witnessed first hand the culture of football existing under Gene Chizik. Though some of it was productive, there were elements which caused internal friction. Returning as Auburn's head football coach, Malzahn has a new vision for the football program, which will require a culture change. Could this truly happen if the preexisting elements of the current culture were left in place? How can the players under the direction of Malzahn completely buy into his system if they have assistant coaches from the previous regime to cling to, when the players don't like the new changes or direction? This is not a matter of which system is best but the simple fact Auburn must be on the same page with the same goals to prosper. Looking at Auburn's short terms goals, retaining certain staff members might save this top-10 recruiting class but focusing on long term goals, would Auburn prosper from it? In my opinion, Tommy Tuberville obtained better overall production from his 3-star recruits than Chizik's staff obtained from the their 4 and 5-star recruits in 2011 and 2012. I am not advocating Auburn should be satisfied with settling for average recruiting classes because I believe Auburn can have both. I believe the potential remains to recruit well but to have better success developing the players once they arrive on campus. Only time will tell how well Malzahn's staff recruits but by bringing in coaches that are on the same page, their chances of developing their talent increases. As Gus Malzahn compiles his football staff, the most important theme should be that every coach believes in the schemes and the protocol to make them work. Bobby Petrino is one of the best offensive minds in college football with a tremendous amount of experience but how successful would Auburn be if he was the offensive coordinator in charge of running Gus Malzahn's offense? A great coach, coaching a scheme he doesn't believe in is doomed to failure from the outset. We learned this from the Tony Franklin debacle. Though Rhett Lashlee doesn't hold a candle to Petrino in terms of experience and success, which coach would be better suited in Malzahn's offense? Once again, this isn't about which offense is the better system but which coaches will mesh better in Malzahn's offense. This is why it so vital for the coordinators and their assistants to be on the same page and why Malzahn wants his coordinators having a major input on the assistants hired to coach their schemes. You can have a team of great engineers with the goal of building a new concept car but if they have different visions, the final product will not be the best it could be. They can bring different thoughts to the drawing table but the ultimate vision of their project has to be the same. One thought process is to build a program similar in structure and operation of Alabama. The theory is be like them in order to defeat them. I believe Gus Malzahn's theory is to truly find the best way for his team to be successful against Alabama. I utilize Alabama as an example only because they are currently at the top of their game and Auburn must face them every year because they compete in the same division. Coach Nick Saban has gone on record, speaking out again the spread offenses that utilize the no huddle and up tempo. How often do you hear him bickering about conventional offenses? His defense is built to stop offenses like LSU and the one Arkansas will install under their new head coach. Gus has to build his team based on what he believes in or he is destined to fail by simulating what everyone else might be doing. Getting back to culture change, this change must not only take place among the players, coaches and support staff. This change must expand to the fan base. For so long, we have associated success at Auburn with great defense, a strong running game, good kicking game and a quarterback who won't get you beat. There is nothing wrong with this formula for success but we would be ignorant to believe it's the only way to win a championship. The 2010 team proved you can win it all at Auburn with a dynamic offense and an average defense. For those close minded to suggest the 2010 team's success was built around Cam Newton and Nick Fairley, I would respond that every great team had great players they relied upon. I have no clue whether or not Gus Malzahn will be successful in terms of winning championships at Auburn but I do like his approach thus far. In order to change the existing culture will require substantial change, which initially makes people feel uncomfortable. By making whole sale changes to the coaching staff, there will be no residual for the returning players to cling to. They will be given two options under the new staff. You either conform and buy into the new approach or you don't. There will be no possible internal strife had multiple staff members been retained, which would slow down the progress of moving in a new direction. Only time will tell how successful Auburn's new coaches will be but at least they will start off on the right foot and headed in the same direction. I don't believe Auburn found a treasure with the hiring of Gus Malzahn. I believe Gus Malzahn has a new vision and he's driven and focused enough to find the real treasure....Auburn itself. This is what is truly great about the success of previous Auburn coaches. They were not big name hires when they arrived at Auburn but they became great coaches by coaching at Auburn. War Eagle!
  10. Staff

    Close Call

    During this past season Auburn went 1-3 in games decided by 7-points or less. This was the difference between being 3-9 rather than 6-6, bowl eligible. Auburn's 1-3 record in close games marked the lowest win percentage in close games since 1981, when the Tigers also went 1-3 in close ball games. We often see the best and worst of coaching in these type of games, which can clearly make or break a season. When you consider over one-third (36 percent) of Auburn's ball games have been decided by 7-points or less since 1981, it becomes vital to be more competitive in these "down to the final whistle" contests. From 1981-2012 Auburn has compiled a record of 266-118-5, winning 69 percent of their games. This includes 9 seasons of 10-wins or more during a 32-year period. Had Auburn won all their games decided by 7-points or less, the Tigers would be looking at a record of 322-67-0 (83 percent), including 22 seasons of 10-wins or more. Had Auburn lost all their close games, the Tigers would be 183-206-0 (47 percent). On an average, Auburn will have 4-5 games per season, decided by 7-points or less, which enhances the reality of what these games mean to the outcome of a season. Auburn coaching records in close games from 1981-2012: Pat Dye ...................... 26-20-4 (.560) Terry Bowden .............. 16-8-1 (.660) Tommy Tuberville ......... 30-17-0 (.638) Gene Chizik ................. 12-6-0- (.667) At first glance, Chizik's record in close games appears to be the best but Auburn was 6-0 during the 2010 season and 6-6 in his remaining 3 seasons. Pat Dye appears to have the lowest win percentage but won 62 percent of his close games from 1982-1989. Tommy Tuberville also had a nice run from 2000-2006, when the Tigers won 73 percent (22-8) of their close games. Terry Bowden won 71 percent of his close games during his first 3 seasons and 61 percent during his last 3 seasons. So what is the key factor in close games? Of the 140 Auburn games decided by 7-points or less from 1981-2012, the "over and under" in points scored was only 41 points. Nearly 75 percent of the games involved a total less than 50 points scored by both teams. This would indicate defense being the key to success in close ball games. Over the past 32 seasons, there have been 7 seasons, the Auburn defense allowed over 350-yards per game. Those 7 teams won 59 percent of their close games, while the remaining 25 teams won 63 percent of their close games. Keep in mind, 6 of those wins by the seven teams with bad defenses came during the 2010 season. This means the other six teams with bad defenses won only 50 percent of the close games. Since 1981, Auburn is 19-46-0 in games the Tigers allowed 30 or more points on defense. Under Gene Chizik, the defense allowed 30 or more points 42 percent of the time. This is one of the reasons why a head coaching change was needed and why the next Auburn head coach will likely be a defensive minded coach. Under Gene Chizik's leadership, Auburn lost it's identity of being a hard-nosed physical team on both sides of the football. With the recent coaching rumors, it appears the next head coach will either be Kirby Smart or Gus Malzahn. Though I believe the talk of Gus Malzahn lacking discipline as a coach was ridiculous to say the least, there should be concern about what his style offense does in relation to his defense. Before he arrived at Tulsa, their defense was 21st in total defense the year before Malzahn arrived. They proceeded to be 108th and 75th the 2 years he was there. Before he arrived at Auburn, the Tigers were 29th in total defense. They became 68th, 60th and 81st during his 3 years there. The year before he arrived at Arkansas State, ASU was 24th in total defense and dropped to 53rd under Malzahn. I will be the first to admit, the mentality and physical make up of a football team starts at the top with the head coach but this remains an alarming trend, even if Malzahn was just the OC in all of those seasons but one. This past season was horrible on both sides of the football but I do believe the defense needs to be addressed in a timely manner. We have witnessed the worst 4-year run on defense in school history and it's not even close. If Gus Malzahn has the fortitude and drive to bring a more physical approach and mentality back to Auburn, than he would likely be very successful. Looking at Malzahn and Smart's coaching careers and the programs they worked under, which candidate is likely to be bring a hard-nosed mentality to his teams?
  11. 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!
  12. Gogue: Now that we have phase I out of the way, it's time to enter phase II of our plan to turn this thing around. Jacobs: (tearing up) I just can't believe it came to this Mr. President. Gogue: Jay, you need to hold it together. Quit thinking about Gene because we have moved on and nothing is going to change that. I was actually impressed with how you carried yourself during the press-conference. We need more of that from you. Jacobs: (perking up) Really? Did I do a great job? Gogue: Sure... you fielded some tough questions and showed no hesitation in your responses. For a moment there, I almost thought you were in charge. Jacobs: (smiling) Thank you Mr. President. Just before I went out there, I reflected back to my playing... (cut off by Gogue) Gogue: Okay, okay, let's not get carried away. How about reading off some early names on the list. Jacobs: (unfolding a piece of paper) Here we go Mr. President... The Eagles, Firefall, Marshall Tucker Band, The Steve Miller Band....(cut of by Gogue) Gogue: (angry) Wait a minute, what kind of stupid list is that?!? Jacobs: (giggling) Oh, my bad Mr. President...that was my list for my next mixed CD, I planned on burning after lunch. I was going to name it, "Classic Rock, XXIV". Do you label or name you mixed CD's? Gogue: (snatching list out of JJ's hands and balling it up) Give me that! JJ, I cannot stress to you how important you remain focused on the task at hand. You do realize there are plenty of folks questioning why you haven't been canned, don't you? Jacobs: (sad) I'm sorry Mr. President, I am trying to be focused. Music stimulates my creative juices and I thought a new mixed disc would point me in the right direction. In fact, I remember I was listening to "Desperado" by the Eagles, when Gene's name popped up in my head. Gogue: (shredding the music list) Jay, how about we try a different approach this time around before we allow the fate of our football program to be decided by a song that is bouncing around in that large vast space we call your peanut. Now read me the names on the list... Jacobs: Okay, here we go sir.... Houston Nutt. Gogue: Houston Nutt? How did his name get on the list? Jacobs: He asked me to put it on there. I had planned on scratching it off before you and I met this morning but I guess I forgot. Gogue: Move on... Jacobs: Gus Malzahn. Pat said he has one of the best innovative minds and Mac said he is very organized. Bo liked him too but warned that might be squirrely under pressure. Gogue: I always liked Gus, who else? Jacobs: Jimbo Fisher. Pat said he's a great hugger and kisser and Bo...(cut off by Gogue) Gogue: Great hugger and kisser? Jay, I think he meant Jimbo is a great "X & O" guy in terms of chalkboard lingo. Jacobs: (scratching his head) Oh yeah...that would make more sense. Anywho, Bo said he likes Jimbo but was concerned about his level of competition. Mac said Jimbo would likely put the best coaching staff together and was high on his organ skills. Gogue: When you say organ skills, I'm assuming you mean organizational skills? Jacobs: Yes sir. It was a long word so I abbreviated it. (Gogue rolling his eyes) Jacobs: Bobby Petrino. Everyone on the committee will agree Petrino is probably the best man for the job but they're also concerned about his past reputation. (Giggling)... Bo said he thinks Bobby's cheese has fallen off his cracker one too many times. Gogue: Do we still have a "tail" on him? Jacobs: Yes sir. We took some of the security staff off the players and put them on Bobby-P for the past 3 weeks. So far, so good. Gogue: Well... I'm not sold yet. That Bobby is a clever one for sure. He probably knows we have eyes on him and he's laying low. You don't have to be Joe Mannix to spot a 10-dollar an hour rent-a-cop following you. Alright...move on... Jacobs: James Bond. Gogue: Isn't he the former quarterback at Mississippi State who was associated with the Cam Newton garbage? Why the heck would we want him? Jacobs: No, Mr. President you're thinking of John Bond. I said, James Bond. You know...007. Gogue: (starring at Jacobs in disbelief) Jacobs: How cool would it be if James Bond was our next head coach. The band could play the 007 theme song on game day, when he walked out onto the field. I actually have a mixed CD of James Bond songs including Skyfall by...(Gogue interrupting) Gogue: FOCUS Jay. Jacobs: Sorry (scratching Bond off list).... Kirby Smart. Pat Sullivan thinks he has great potential as a head coach. Bo likes him but is worried about all the comparisons to Nick Saban. Mac believes it's a risk to hire someone with no head coaching experience after the Chizik demise. Gogue: Kirby Smart, Kirby Smart... I don't know Jay. I just don't trust someone who has a last name for a first name. Of course he could be our Will Muschamp, we missed out on. Tell me again why we didn't hire Muschamp back in 2009. Jacobs: He wanted to stomp Tim Jackson's guts out. Gogue: Seems worth it now considering he has his team at 11-1, headed to a BCS Bowl game, while we are 3-9 and everyone wants to stomp our guts out. Did you get that pine freshener down to TJ's office? Jacobs: Yes sir, I did. He told me to tell you he's not really pleased about his new job assignment. Gogue: He'll adjust in time. Speaking of which, how about getting all the lunch orders together so Tim can be back in time with our food. Make sure Tim doesn't forget no salt on my fries. After lunch, we will finish up on the list. Jacobs: Yes sir Mr. President. The waiting will be the most difficult part and we can expect some major rumors floating around be this is all said and done.
  13. Jacobs: Coach Chizik, I think it's important we meet today to discuss the direction of the football program. Chizik: Jay, there is no doubt this season has been difficult for everyone associated with the program but I've always felt there is light at the end of every tunnel. Gogue: (mumbling): Not if someone blows up the tunnel. Jacobs: (clearing his throat) What I think the President is trying to say is the damage done to this point might have been so costly, we need to reconsider who is the right person to make the repairs. Chizik: When I accepted this job 4 years ago, I knew I was the right man for the job and still believe it today. If you recall, my plan was to rebuild and retool this program from the foundation on up. I said back then it would take 4-5 years of hard work but the profits gained from being patient, would be a program we all could be proud of... Gogue: (laughing) Here we go again. Jacobs: Mr. President, I think we agreed to give Coach Chizik the opportunity to discuss his plan for the near future. Gogue: You're right Jay, lets hear the man out before we write the check. Jacobs: (smiling at Chizik) Gene, you have to know going in a different direction is a strong possibility but we want to be fair in an attempt to explore all options. Secretary: (on the intercom) Mr. Jacobs, I have a Nut on the phone. Jacobs: Please tell Houston Nutt, I cannot be disturbed and I will call him back. Secretary: Mr. Jacobs it's not a Houston Nutt, it's an actual Nut. I believe it's AUChamps. Jacobs: (frustrated) Which one is it? Secretary: JJ, I said it was AUchamps. Jacobs: I realize this, which is why I asked which one is calling today?!? Secretary: (giggling) Oh...I gotcha Mr. Jacobs, I will tell them all to call back later this afternoon. Jacobs: Thank you. (turning his attention back to Chizik) Gene, I had previously spoken to the President about the meeting you and I had, when you jotted down some ideas for the future on a napkin. Perhaps you could express some of those plans in more detail now. Chizik: After every season I have always evaluated my staff, which will be no different this season. Midway during the Iron Bowl down 42-0, I believe some staff changes are in order. Gogue: We allowed you to bring in Laughler and Vandenberg after 2011 and you want to make coordinator changes again? Chizik: Looking back at it now, we probably should have gone in a different direction with the offense. Perhaps an offense, which doesn't require a quarterback. Gogue: I'll be brutally honest here coach. I don't know much about football but what I do know is that it's really bad when the opponent scores a lot more points than we do. How do you intend to fix it? Chizik: I have the solution. Gogue: Well spit it out. Chizik: Wait for it....wait... think college tradition.......think big... Gogue: Gene, quit stalling! Chizik: Helmet stickers!!! Gogue: (choking on his water) What??? Helmet stickers is your plan?!? Jacobs: Gene, we already messed with the helmet decal and the font size on the jerseys and it did not go over very well. Chizik: No, no... not the AU decal but award stickers on the helmets for good play. Kids just love stickers and it's a great motivational tool. Gogue: So would we take stickers off helmets for missed blocks and tackles? Chizik: It's a reward system for effort Mr. President, so it would be counter productive to remove stickers. We put an AU sticker on the helmets for academic success and Tiger paw stickers for success on the field. Gogue: From where I am standing, implementing a sticker program will get my guts stomped out if this is your plan to turn things around. Secretary: (on the intercom) JJ, I have Bobby-P on the phone and he wants to know what time the press conference will be. Jacobs: (picking up phone to take it off intercom mode) elltay imhay Iay illway allcay imhay ackbay aterlay. Chizik: Jay, why is Bobby Petrino wanting to know about a press conference? Jacobs: (nervous laugh) Oh... Bobby has some lingering brain damage from his motorcycle accident. He calls here occasionally thinking it's Arkansas and that he's still the head coach there. His doctor said we should humor him until he improves. Gogue: (rubbing his face with both hands) For Pete's sake JJ, just tell the man what is going on so we can all move on. Take the stinking band-aid off fast and not slowly... Chizik: (confused) Band-aid? Jacobs: Again, it all comes back to Petrino's injuries and his medical care. Secretary: (on the intercom) JJ, I have Tim Jackson on line 2 and he's complaining his new office doesn't have a window and it smells musty. Jacobs: (frustrated) Tell Tim we all agreed to make sacrifices. Secretary: Oh my, he said it actually smells like someone pinched a loaf in his office even though he doesn't have his own bathroom anymore. Gogue: (Angrily reaching for the phone) Tell that pinhead he's smelling what he has been dishing out for years and we will send down a pine tree freshener. Secretary: Will do Mr. President. Gogue: Gene, this sticker deal...is this all you have? Because if that's the case, then we need to go ahead... Chizik: I could shave my head or grow a mustache. Gogue: (head drops to desk) Lord save us... cut the check Jay, just cut the check. Jacobs: Gene, tell the President about your new book. Chizik: Oh yah.... My first book was "All In" and my second book will be, "Sticking with the Plan". It's about going all in at first and sticking with the plan when the wheels started falling off the bandwagon. Gogue: (sarcasm) It should be, "Sticking it to Auburn"? .... Jay, I think we're done here. Jacobs: Yes sir Mr. President. Uh...Gene, I will call you later. Chizik: I think this went really well. It's amazing what we can accomplish together as a family. Gogue: Yep, I think it's abundantly clear what must happen. Chizik: (walking out the office) Well, I guess I better look into ordering those stickers. Jacobs: (tearing up) I guess this is the end Mr. President. You think Gene will be okay? Gogue: Don't fret over it Jay, it was probably over a long time ago... he just never saw it coming. The End
  14. Gogue: Jay I called you in to discuss what we are going to do with Gene. I felt it's only fair to give you the opportunity on selling me to keep Coach Chizik in place for 2013. Besides, this should only take a few minutes at the most. Jacobs: First of all Mr. President, I should remind you of his buyout... Gogue: (angry)...stop right there. This meeting is to decide whether or not to keep Chizik. You're listing points why I should fire you! Jacobs: (smiling) Well sir, the buyout was based on the National Championship he led us to... Gogue: What else you got. Jacobs: (mumbling) There were the decisive victories over the Aggies and Bulldogs this season. Gogue: Whoa there skin tag. I know I don't watch the games but I received a buttload of e-mails after the Texas A&M and Georgia games complaining about how we were embarrassed at home. Jacobs: (clearing throat) Well sir, if you've seen one Aggie or Bulldog, you've seen them all. Gogue: Jay, you're not trying to pull one over me are you? Jacobs: No sir. Gogue: I was born at night but it wasn't last night. Have you seen the crap they are spreading in the media and on the Internet about me? Jacobs: I really haven't paid attention to it. Gogue: (Reading an E-mail from his computer) Listen to this drivel. Dear President Goon, I wanted to take the time to voice my concern in regards to our current situation. If you don't fire Jacobs, Jackson and Chizik, I'm going to stomp your guts out. Signed, Wolfie. Jay, I can't have folks coming in here and stomping my guts out. I'm the President for Christ's sake. Jacobs: Perhaps you should look into the retina scan security systems. Gogue: Or I could just fire you two goobers and hire Shawn Watson. Jacobs: Sir I don't think that would be a good hire. Gogue: You know you can hire folks from other programs other than Iowa State. Jacobs: Yes sir, I'm well aware of that now. Gogue: So have you spoken with Gene about his plans to turn this mess around and make us gooder? Jacobs: (excited, pulling a napkin out with writing on it) I'm glad you asked Mr. President. I had lunch with Gene today and he jotted a few things down. Keep in mind this is just a rough draft and he plans on putting this down in a power point presentation. (1) Hire better coaches (2) Score more points (3) Allow fewer points and (4) .... Gogue: (pounding fist on desk) What kind of stupid plan is that? Do you want folks heckling you at the airport again? Jacobs: (stuttering) Gene was just trying to keep it simple for you to understand, leaving out all the football jargon. Gogue: I need a detailed plan, one I can sell to the fan base. So does he plan on firing Loafer and Van Halen? Jacobs: I believe he wants to keep VanGorder but make wholesale changes across the board. He believes we could bring Paul Petrino aboard as the offensive coordinator.... Gogue: Petrino? I thought I made it clear that Petrino was not an option. We can't have a man going through a midlife crisis, popping wheelies and snapping his carrot where ever he pleases! Jacobs: Uh sir...that's Bobby Petrino, Gene wants to hire his younger brother Paul Petrino. Gogue: Is he any good? Jacobs: Gene is sold on him sir. Gogue: Sold on him? This is coming from a man that wears a leather jacket to formal dinners. Besides, I'm not sold on hiring brothers of successful people. Bobby is like JFK so that means Paul is probably like Robert or even worse, Teddy. Jacobs: Yes sir, I understand. Gogue: How the heck did we get into this mess anyhow? Jacobs: You win some, you lose some I guess. Gogue: Well that might be the case but we have to win more than we lose and I'm not sold on Chizik turning this thing around. Do you realize we can't make the playoffs this season? Jacobs: Yes sir, we failed to become bowl eligible but we still share in the bowl revenue within the conference. Gogue: Well, I have to meet with some BOT members so how about setting up a meeting with Chizik to present his plan to me. It better not be that napkin crap you just read! Jacobs: Will do Mr. President. Do you want me to go with you to meet the BOT members? I could deflect some of the pressure away from you. Gogue: No, no... you better not come. They said some nasty things about your hair the last time I met them and they probably would make you cry. Jacobs: Yes sir, we don't need to cry at a time like this. We need to show leadership. Gogue: Shut the door on your way out...oh...and tell Gene Auburn was great before he got here and will be great after he is gone. War Eagle!
  15. Inside the Numbers: Tre Mason had a career high 181-yards rushing on just 12 carries, including a career run of 86-yards for a TD. Mason now has 920-yards rushing on the season. Onterio McCalebb began his Auburn career with a 100-yard rushing effort and finishes his career at home with over 100-yards rushing. Currently the RB combination of Tre Mason and Onterio McCalebb is averaging 6.20 yards per rush. This is the 7th best rushing average by a combination of 2 running backs since 1970. Jonathan Wallace was only 10 of 18 in passing but 11 of his pass attempts were intermediate or long range against AAMU. Auburn has now gone 23 consecutive games without their leading passer throwing for at least 200-yards. Auburn held AAMU to 22-yards rushing. The last time Auburn held an opponent under 25-yards rushing was in 2005 against Ole Miss. Auburn held AAMU to under 100-yards rushing and under 200-yards passing, marking only the 4th time this has occurred during the Gene Chizik era. Auburn's 44-point victory was the 2nd largest margin of victory under Gene Chizik, just behind the Tigers 52-3 victory over La.-Monroe in 2010. Jonathan Wallace has 4 TD passes on 66 pass attempts compared to the combined 175 pass attempts of Kiehl Frazier and b for 3 TD's. Wallace picked up another 5 more impact pass-plays, giving him 21 on the season compared to the combined 28 by Farzier and Moseley. Auburn was penalized 11 times for 79-yards, which was a season high. For the season, Wallace has completed 58 percent of his 1st down passes, 78 percent on 2nd down and 60 percent on 3rd down. Wallace targeted 8 different receivers against AAMU. Auburn lost the "tackle for loss" battle against AAMU. In Auburn's last 32 games, they have won the TFL battle only 6 times. Trent Fisher's pick-6 insured Auburn would have at least 1 interception by the secondary this season. For the season Auburn has averaged 444.7 yards per game on offense out of conference and 245.4 yards in conference. Auburn finally ended their 16-game streak of at least 1 fumble during a game. During the first 4 games of the season Auburn's offense averaged 4.86 yards per play on first down. During the last 7 games they have averaged 6.52 yards. Auburn came into the game with 8 red zone TD's on offense. The Tigers had 5 against AAMU. Auburn came into the game with a grand total of 21 points scored during the first period. They matched to point total with 21 points against AAMU. Auburn has averaged 271.7 yards rushing in out of conference play this season and only 86-yards against SEC competition. Kiehl Frazier completed 65.6% of his passes within 10-yards of the line of scrimmage and Moseley completed 72.7%. Jonathan Wallace has completed 87.1%. Onterio McCalebb and Tre Mason combined for 30 offensive touches, netting 329-yards and 4 TD's. Many thanks to the 2012 senior class that will leave Auburn with a BCSNC, SEC title and 3 bowl victories. War Eagle!
  16. 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!
  17. It was the worst first quarter of Auburn football that I have witnessed in the 35-years I have followed Auburn football. It then transformed into the worst first half of Auburn football and eventually the worst defensive performance I have ever seen by an Auburn defense. The only highlight of the evening was watching a true freshman quarterback play his heart out, giving a lifeless Auburn offense a much needed spark. I enjoyed watching Mr. Wallace play so much, I wanted the Aggies to score as quickly as possible just so I could see what Wallace had up his sleeve on the next offensive possession. I think there is absolutely no doubt this will be Gene Chizik's final season at Auburn and the only question is can he survive the regular season before he is terminated. Watching the team perform early on made me believe there was a possibility Chizik had been told he would not be retained after this season and the players were aware of it. Of course this is complete speculation on my part in a futile attempt to make sense of the worst overall team performance I have ever seen by an Auburn football team during the first half. Texas A&M had 250-yards in offense and 28 points on the board before Auburn registered it's initial first down of the game. Earlier this week, I suggested the thought of starting Jonathan Wallace in a no-huddle and hurry-up format just to catch the Aggies flat-footed. Though it failed to transform into reality, I was excited about watching the freshman quarterback compete. I don't believe it would have made for a different outcome but I do believe Auburn would have been more competitive early on. The defense played so poorly, Cam Newton wouldn't have made a difference tonight. I will add that Wallace did compete primarily against backups during the second half but he certainly gave Auburn fans something to cheer about and something to look forward to seeing again. Inside the Numbers... Auburn quarterbacks have gone 24 consecutive games without throwing a touchdown pass on first down. The previous longest drought was from 2000 to 2001, when Auburn went 15 consecutive games with throwing a TD pass on first down. Quan Bray did complete a first down TD pass to Kiehl Frazier against ULM this season. Jonathan Wallace and CJ Uzomah put an end to the streak with their 27-yard TD pass on first down during the third quarter. Auburn's opponent has now thrown 315 consecutive passes without an interception by an Auburn defensive back. Auburn's last 2 interceptions have been made by Daren Bates and Jake Holland. During Auburn's last 19 games, the Tigers have won the "tackle for loss" battle only 2 times. Auburn has won the "turnover" battle in only 3 of their last 17 games. During Auburn's last 25 games, the opponent has averaged more yards per play on first down than Auburn, 19 times. During those 25 games, Auburn is 4-1, when winning the "first down" battle and 9-11, when they don't. Auburn has now allowed at least 1 sack in 22 consecutive games. During Auburn's last 13 conference games, they have averaged 15.4 PPG. During Auburn's last 21 games, the offense has been held to less than 60 plays, 10 times. Prior to the last 21 games, it took 60 games, to total 10 games under 60 snaps. Kiehl Frazier and Clint Moseley have combined for 3 TD pass in 174 pass attempts. Jonathan Wallace has 2 from 10 pass attempts. Onterio McCalebb's streak of 23 consecutive games with at least 1 reception came to an end against the Aggies. CJ Uzomah now has 5 receptions for 113-yards during the last 2 games. Against Ole Miss and Vanderbilt, Auburn's pass-offense generated a total of 4 impact plays (15-yds or more). Jonathan Wallace had 5 during his first 5 pass attempts against the Aggies. The Auburn offense averaged 11.6 yards per play on first down during the second half. Coming into the game tonight, Auburn's opponent had gained at least 5-yards on 43.6 percent of their total snaps. Texas A&M gained at least 5-yards on 56.8 percent of their snaps. Over the last 50 years, Auburn's defense has given up over 600-yards on 4 occasions. Three of the four have come during the Gene Chizik era. During Auburn's last 21 games, the defense has allowed an average of 422-yards and 29 PPG, including 199-yards rushing per game. Even though the Gene Chizik era has accounted for only 19 percent of Auburn's games played since 1992, his defenses have accounted for 9 of the 20 worst defensive performances (45.0 percent) since 1992. Demetruce McNeal led the Tigers in tackles for the 4th time in the last 7 games. Tre Mason needs 446-yards to reach the 1000-yard mark. He must average 111.5 YPG during the last 4 games of the season. During the 5 games this season he has carried the ball at least 12 times, he has averaged 88.6 YPG on 5.4 yards per rush. Final Word... Other than pleasing disgruntled fans, I don't see anything gained in terminating coach Chizik before the season has ended unless Auburn is prepared to name his successor now. If someone like Bobby Petrino was brought in now, it would give him and the team a terrific head start for 2013. I do believe the wheels are in motion to make a change but the decision has not been made in terms of when to pull the trigger. The loss tonight was expected but the manner in which it happened might expedite the process. It certainly has become tough times for all involved in Auburn athletics but coaching changes have always been a major part of football life. In what has now become one of the worst seasons in Auburn history, Jonathan Wallace could become a player the team can rally behind the remainder of the season. It won't be enough to beat the likes of Georgia and Alabama but it could be the initial steps of a future star at quarterback. It will be interesting to see which players continue to work hard on and off the field. The remainder of the 2012 season could become a launch pad for the 2013 season, especially for the younger players receiving more playing time now. It would be great to see the juniors and seniors compete hard but I believe it's more important for the younger plays to show resiliency for the future. Hypothetically speaking, an immediate hire of someone like Bobby Petrino would allow him to make it clear to future returning players, "the time is now to compete for positions in 2013". As bad as Auburn football has become, do not lose sight of the fact it will get better. This nightmare of a season is one month away from being over and this football team can begin to rebuild and rebound. I think it will be vital for Auburn to target an experienced and successful head coach this go around. The Southeastern Conference is and will remain the king of college football, making it essential the next Auburn coach must be prepared to compete at a high level. I personally would hope the next coach has a history of obtaining the most of his personnel and working environment because Auburn University already has the majority of components in place to succeed now. War Eagle!
  18. The following is a strong and truthful post on Auburn Athletics made our beloved Mayor who has made a Jordan'Like return to the forums. I feel this post is too important to get lost in page 90 something of a coaching search thread so I am giving it its own thread for maximum exposure. I humbly and politely ask the Mods to not merge this thread where ever the discussion goes. TIA
  19. I know pretty much all of us look at the media with a very leery eye, always concerned that we're getting the shaft by some of the state's big mouthpieces/writers/etc. But I think that this column has been written — and by the writer who has written it — says a lot. This writer has covered Auburn for many years — I think all the way back to Bowden's demise — and he has been one to take up for Auburn and its coaches through the years. The fact that he is out here now saying these things about the program is a big deal, in my opinion. He's in a position to know. http://annistonstar.com/view/full_story/20514758/article-With-confidence-falling-and-no--bottom-in-sight--AU-needs-change?instance=sports_top Regardless of what side of the fence any of us are on about this, he makes some very legitimate points.
  20. For the seventh game in a row Auburn could not get out of it's own way taking two steps backwards for every positive step gained. Whether it is a missed tackle, penalty or turnover, Auburn has found a way to self-destruct, which points to a poorly prepared and coached team. Though the game was competitive and went down to the wire, one should not lose sight of the level of competition faced this Saturday. This Auburn team lost to a 2-4 Vanderbilt team that did everything it could to give away the game as the Tigers have slowly transformed into one of the worst teams in school history. Other than special teams, is there a position on this team performing better since the start of the season? Even during a losing season, a team can actually improve in some aspects but it would be difficult to make a case here in regards to Auburn. At 1-6 on the season, Auburn could still become bowl eligible but the odds of this happening are as good as me winning the lottery and I don't play the lottery. You have to hate it for the young men that suit up to play the game because they are simply a byproduct of a failed system for the most part. One could argue at the end of the day, the players are responsible for execution but persistent poor execution is often the result of poor preparation and coaching. In some areas the youth movement has been the culprit for poor performances but should this be an issue in year No. 4 of the current coaching staff? I have no doubt the coaches have worked diligently to resolve some of the problems but it doesn't mean the solutions implemented are the right ones. This team did not fall apart overnight for it took several years to get to where they are now. Sometimes a team must bottom out before they can expect to rise up again and I fear this is the case for the 2012 Auburn Tigers. We will likely see continued personnel changes but it won't likely make much difference until development and schematic issues are addressed. It's equivalent to placing a band aid on a gunshot wound. You have to win to develop a winning environment and the same can be said about losing. Once a team develops poor habits and begins to lose, its often difficult to pull out of the tailspin. The concern now falls upon a coaching staff that steered this team into the wrong direction and might not possess the ability to take control again. In reality, we are seeing the final product on the field but have been blind to the issues behind closed doors. Inside the Numbers... * During the 2009 season, Auburn completed 10 TD passes on first down during 13 games. In Auburn's last 20 games, the Tigers have thrown just one. Auburn's current pass-rating on first down is 14th best over the past 21 seasons. * Auburn currently has a pass-rating of 81.3 on third down, the worst rating by an Auburn offense over the past 20 years. * Though Cassanova McKinzy had a solid performance in his first start, Daren Bates had his least productive game this season. With Bates making the majority of calls this week, it's possible the extra responsibility might have slowed Bates productivity just as it did for Jake Holland. * 80 Percent of Clint Moseley's pass attempts were within 10-yards of the line of scrimmage against Vanderbilt. Though he completed 11 of his 13 passes on first and second downs, he averaged only 5.2 yards per attempt. * Auburn's defensive line accounted for a season low, 8.7 percent of the team's tackles. The previous low was 18.8 percent against Arkansas. * Once again, Auburn lost the tackle for loss battle with 10 tackles for loss on offense and only 4 on defense. During their last 18 games, Auburn has won the TFL battle only 2 times. * Prior to today, Auburn had compiled a 27-3 record since 1992 with a plus-3 turnover margin, including 13 straight victories. * During the first 4 games of the season the Auburn defense had allowed 6.5 impact plays (15-yds or more) per game. During their last 3 games, they are allowing 9.7. * Auburn's offense has either a turnover or loss of yardage every 5.6 snaps. * Since 1992, Auburn's TD percentage inside the red zone is 60.4 percent. This season, Auburn's TD percentage inside the red zone is 29.4 percent, the lowest percentage during this time period. * Prior to Gene Chizik inserting himself in the play-calling on offense, Auburn went "3 & out" 25 percent of the time. They are now going "3 & out" 40 percent of the time. * The last time an Auburn had only 1 offensive series that netted at least 30-yards during a game was the 2008 Alabama game. * Corey Lemonier has 1 tackle during the last 2 games. * The secondary has been responsible for 49.7 percent of the team's tackles this season. Against Vanderbilt, the secondary accounted for 62.3 percent, a season high. * Since Clint Moseley has replaced Kiehl Frazier, 52.5% of his pass attempts have been within 5-yards of the line of scrimmage. With Frazier as the starter, 48.5 percent of his pass attempts were intermediate to long range attempts, compared to Moseley's 25.5 percent. Final Word... A 1-6 start will definitely open the door for staff changes for 2013 but how bad does it have to get to make a complete change? For those making that decision, the question should not be whether or not Gene Chizik should be retained but whether or not they believe Chizik can turn the program around. I believe it's imperative that Chizik produce a short-term yet detailed plan on how he would correct Auburn's issues before considering his future as Auburn's head coach. The concern is not the current state of the program but how it arrived here. Before anything can be repaired a sound diagnosis must be completed to determine the correct solution. This is my fear of retaining Coach Chizik at this point. Though I believe his intent to build the program into a contender was present, all of Auburn's shortcomings fall upon his feet. If he was too short sighted in the first place to recognize he was losing control of the program, how can we now expect him to find his way? If you were the victim of a botched surgery, would you allow the same doctor to correct his mistakes or seek the assistance and guidance of another surgeon? This is not about whether or not Gene Chizik is a good man but whether or not he is the right fit to lead Auburn's football program. He brought Auburn a national championship and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts. He was also paid to maintain a high level of consistency, something he has failed to accomplish. If the decision is made to retain Coach Chizik but with major changes to his current staff, what are the odds of him making home run hires with 4-5 new coaches? What assistant coach would be willing to step into a situation, where it could be a one and done situation if the team struggles again in 2013? Money can be a huge motivator but established or proven assistants also want job security and the comfort of knowing that they will be given time to make all the needed repairs and changes. This could be an obstacle difficult to overcome with a lame duck in place at head coach. Again, taking this option would require the assurance that Gene Chizik truly recognizes the team's primary issues and how to address them. Is there anything in his work history that would indicate he can do this? At this point, the team can only play for pride the remainder of the season but it's obvious certain folks will need to come to an important decision regarding Auburn's future. I'm grateful I don't have to make that decision because there are no guarantees on any decision made. I've seen enough Auburn football in my lifetime to know that Auburn can and will overcome this season with or without Gene Chizik calling the shots. This thought alone brings some comfort but until changes are made, it will be difficult to be excited about Auburn football in its current state. You don't have to be an expert or coach to know this isn't close to Auburn football and the players are deserving of better leadership. As fans all we can do right now is support the players as they continue to battle through this nightmare of a season. War Eagle!
  21. 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!
  22. With Gene Chizik's recent comments about offensive identity, there is a strong possibility we will see a renewed focus on running the football against Ole Miss this coming Saturday. A strong output in this area would aid whomever Auburn starts at quarterback. The primary run play this season has been the stretch play, where all 3 running backs have had great success. Here is a breakdown of this play with Mike Blakely as the featured back. The play... On this particular occasion Auburn faces a 2nd & 1 from the Arkansas 37-yard line. Auburn comes out in a variation of the Ace Formation with a TE in the backfield rather than a FB and an additional TE on the line (opposite side). At the snap Brandon Fulse will pull to his right to engage the DE on the backside. The quarterback to RB exchange is slanted at an angle towards the left of the formation, which forces the opposing defense to flow to that side. On the stretch play, the RB has 3 options. He can take the ball through the "B" gap, bounce it outside through the "C" gap or he can cutback almost like a counter play and run through the backside. After taking the hand off, Mike Blakely cuts the play back, where Chad Slade has driven the DT inside and Patrick Miller has taken out the OLB. The MLB initially reacted to the flow through the "B" gap and must now cutback to catch Blakely on his cutback. The MLB is able to make contact with Blakely but Blakely is able to run through the arm tackle for a 13-yard gain because the MLB had a poor pursuit angle on the play. Inside look... Note the positioning of the LB's as they respond to the initial flow towards the "B" gap. Mike Blakely quickly recognizes the backside running lane has more daylight because Brandon Fulse has shielded the backside DE, Chad Slade has driven the DT inside and Patrick Miller has crushed the OLB. Once again this has been a play all three Auburn running backs have prospered and the Tigers can build a strong play-action pass off this play. This should be a play Auburn can expose an overly aggressive Ole Miss defense that operates from a 4-2-5 defense relying on speed to make up for their lack of size in their front-6.
  23. Through 5 games into the season the Auburn defense has allowed their opponent to convert 40.0 percent of their 3rd downs during the first half and 29.7 percent during the second half. Auburn’s average distance required to convert on 3rd down against Arkansas was 11.5 yards. This was due to the sacks and penalties taken on 1st and 2nd down because the offense actually averaged 6.5 yards per play on first down. Third down defense was good against Arkansas and Auburn has only allowed 2 of 18 third downs of 10-yards or more to be converted this season. Auburn increased it’s percentage of plays of 5-yards or more from 28 percent against LSU to 40 percent against Arkansas but the sacks and turnovers prevented the Tigers from cashing their productive plays into points. Arkansas averaged 6.6 yards per play during the first half and 5.6 during the second half. During the 3 previous games prior to Arkansas, the Auburn defense held their opponent to 2-yards or less on 46.4 percent of their snaps. Against Arkansas, the percentage dropped to 38.3 percent. Last week against LSU, 8 of Auburn’s 21 first down plays went for negative yardage. Against Arkansas only 3 of 35 first plays went for negative yardage. Through 5 games Auburn’s offense has produced 33 impact plays (plays of 15-yds or more), while the defense has surrendered 38. Through 5 games, Auburn has obtained 13 points off of their opponent’s turnovers and the opponent has scored 39 points off of Auburn’s turnovers. For the past 3 games, Auburn’s defense has allowed 4.5 yards per rush during the first half and 3.5 yards during the second half. During situations requiring 2-yards or less for a first down or TD, Auburn is 15 of 20 running the football and 5 of 5 passing for an overall production of 20 of 25 in short yardage. Auburn’s leading rusher from the RB position has averaged only 10.4 carries per game, the second lowest average over the past 25 years. The average number of carries by the leading rusher over the past 25 years is 17.3 carries per game. Tre Mason should be averaging 15 rushes per game. Excluding the 2010 season Auburn under Gene Chizik has averaged 20.3 PPG in conference play. This includes Auburn being held to under 20 points in 9 of their last 10 conference games. Auburn has averaged 284.5 yards per game on offense during their last 11 conference games. Auburn’s pass rating operating under center is 152.0 and 99.4 in the shotgun. Seven of the eight sacks allowed against Arkansas came with the quarterbacks in shotgun. Kiehl Frazier and Clint Moseley combined was 21-30-1-251yds-1td, throwing the football within 20 yards of the line of scrimmage. This combined for a pass-rating of 146.9. When they threw beyond 20-yards of the line of scrimmage, they were 1 of 5 for 2 picks, 22-yards and combined rating of –23.0. Auburn threw the football 15 times on first down against Arkansas, completing 11 for 154-yards. The only downside was the 2 interceptions thrown on first down. The last time Auburn attempted at least 15 passes on first down was against Ole Miss in 2008. War Eagle!
  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?
  25. I believe the majority of Auburn fans knew this game could be a concern and the fact Auburn won the game was a positive in that regard. Of course the concern remains we were concerned about a game against Louisiana-Monroe to start with. Rather than focus on why Auburn is where they are through 43 games into the Gene Chizik era, I will say this current squad needed a victory in the worst way. It would have been great had Auburn secured the football and walked away with a 38-21 type of game but at this point, I would take any form of a victory just to give these players something to build on. The second half turnovers truly killed the momentum of an offense that made several strides in improvement. At the half, Auburn had scored 3 touchdowns from 27 plays, a far cry from the 1 touchdown they produced from the previous 125 snaps. The defense continued to struggle for the third consecutive week. Though I understand the concept of not wanting to give up the big play, the Tigers still gave up 2 plays of over 30-yards. Five of the Warhawks first 11 possessions netted at least 45-yards and the defense once again struggled getting off the field, allowing 27 first downs. For the third week in a row, the defensive tackles as a whole, struggled with only 4 tackles at the position. For the third week in a row, the opposing team was able to find success running the football into the heart of the defense. Special teams were solid again and I cannot say enough about how hard Cody Parkey worked over the off-season to improve from 2011. I did like the fact Scot Loeffler dialed up pass plays to players other than Emory Blake and Philip Lutzenkirchen. Auburn will need the services of players like Quan Bray, Sammie Coates and Travante Stallworth to improve as an offense overall. As well as the stretch played worked against ULM, I was shocked that Loeffler did not call a few more boots off of them. However in a season where the offense had underachieved in the first 2 games, I will save the criticism considering the Tigers had over 400-yards on offense and scored 31 points, even if it was against Louisiana-Monroe. Inside the Numbers… Since 1981, Auburn is now 138-2-0, when entering the 4th period with a 14-pt lead or better. Onterio McCalebb recorded his 4th career 100-yard game and is currently averaging 6.9 yards per rush. McCalebb did a terrific job running the stretch play today, hitting the hole like a dart, something he had struggled with. After completing 9 of 12 passes during the first half, Kiehl Frazier was just 1 of 6 during the second half. For the second time this season, Daren Bates and Jake Holland both finished with double-digit tackles. Of the 36 carries by the Auburn running backs, only 1 went for a loss, which speaks well for the offensive line and the ability of the backs to hit the hole quickly. For the 3rd consecutive game, Auburn has lost the turnover battle. The Tigers have been fortunate to allow only 10 points off of 7 turnovers. Coming into this game, the 2012 Auburn offense had been the worst over the past 20 seasons during their first 4 possessions of the game. They failed to do much to improve on it this week with only 1 score and 3 of 4 possessions netting less than 30-yards. Through 3 games, Auburn’s offense has operated under center on 59.8 percent of their snaps. Auburn has averaged 6.24 yards per play under center and 4.28 yards from shotgun. The Tigers have averaged 5.5 yards rushing from under center and 1.1 yards from shotgun. Auburn has a pass rating of 148.2 from under center and 94.8 in shotgun. Frazier was 5 of 7 on first down, 3 of 7 on second down and 2 of 4 on third down. Auburn has now extended their streak to 15 games without passing for 200-yards coming close to the previous drought of 18 consecutive games from 1984 into 1985. Auburn snapped their 12-game streak of averaging less than 6-yards on first down, averaging 7.8 yards on first down against the Warhawks. Auburn produced 4 offensive plays of 30-yards or more against ULM, extending their record to 67-7-1 since 1992, when producing at least 3 big plays on offense. Final Thoughts… Mike Blakely is often considering to be the most talented running back in Auburn’s stable of backs but my vote goes to Tre Mason based on results through 3 games. Mason ran into many 8 and 9 man fronts, earning a hard earned 90-yards on 22 trips into the line. I do believe all 3 backs compliment one another and Auburn will need the services of all three to get through the remainder of this season. Though it’s become easy to find fault in everything Auburn football right now, I’m proud of the team for fighting through to secure their first victory of the season. This is a team desperately attempting to find an identity on offense and defense and the offense took a step forward today. In a season like this year, the coaches must focus on what they do the best and attempt to improve in the areas where they struggle. It might not translate to enough victories this season but it’s a must for this team to improve as the season progresses. Kiehl Frazier’s QB rating of 123.4 wasn’t anything to write home about but it was his best game of the season, which means another step forward for the sophomore quarterback. He had a passer rating of 182.3 during the first half but struggled dearly during the second half with a rating of 5.7. He did nothing to warrant being pulled from today and he needs to continue working at improving his overall game. His 34-yard TD reception was a terrific call and executed well. With the way Auburn and LSU has performed this season, most will expect a lopsided victory in favor of the Bengal-Tigers. It will be a major challenge just for Auburn to keep the game close but it remains an opportunity for this team to find it’s identity and to improve even in the face of a sure loss. I believe the players look forward to the challenge but I hope the coaching staff does the same. This is the kind of game, where I want to see the defense making a concerted effort to attack the LSU offense regardless of the fear of giving up the big play. I realize the coaches fear the defense doesn’t have the personnel to press the issue but I see no way of winning if the effort isn’t made. The same can be said on offense. Relying on the running game only with no vertical pass-offense will result in a lot of “3 & outs”. LSU isn’t going to change over night to allow Auburn to win, which means Auburn will need to just to remain competitive. War Eagle!
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