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  1. Game #12 Statistical Evaluation (Alabama Game) Offensive Report Card: 01) Avg 6-yards per play on 1st down: [5.64] fail 02) Convert at least 40% of 3rd downs: [47.4%] pass 03) Avg at least 4.5 yards per rush: [3.72] fail 04) Score on at least 1/3 of possessions: [61.5%] pass 05) Keep 3 and out series under 33%: [15.4%] pass 06) Average 8.0 yards per pass attempt: [10.6 yds] pass 07) Score at least 75% inside red zone: [87.5%] pass 08) TD red zone above 60%: [25.0%] fail 09) Avg at least 30-yards per possession: [45.0 yds] pass 10) 40% of offensive snaps part of scoring drives: [75.3%] pass 11) TD / Turnover ratio above 1.6: [4 TD’s / 2] pass 12) TD ratio of at least 1 every 17 snaps: [22.2] fail 13) At least 8 impact plays: [11] pass 14) At least 2 big plays: [6] pass 15) Pass rating of at least 125.0: [170.2] pass * Red Zone offense ended up being the difference in the game but 44 points and over 600-yards in offense should always result in a victory. * Nick Marshall was a baller tonight, setting a new school record in passing yardage against the No. 1 ranked team in the country. * I wish there was a way of keeping Duke Williams for his senior year. He was a warrior tonight. Score: 11 of 15 (73.3%) Pass Defensive Report Card: 01) Avg under 6-yards per play on 1st down: [11.0] fail 02) Convert below 35% of 3rd downs: [55.6%] fail 03) Avg at least 4.0 yards per rush: [6.68] fail 04) Score below 1/3 of possessions: [61.5%] fail 05) Keep 3 and out series above 33%: [23.1%] fail 06) Average below 7.5 yards per pass attempt: [11.6 yds] fail 07) Score below 75% inside red zone: [100.0%] fail 08) TD red zone below 60%: [100.0%] fail 09) Avg under 30-yards per possession: [38.5 yds] fail 10) Less than 40% of offensive snaps part of scoring drives: [77.0%] fail 11) TD / Turnover ratio below 1.6: [8 TD’s / 3 turnovers] fail 12) TD ratio of at least 1 every 30 snaps: [7.6] fail 13) Less than 8 impact plays: [14] fail 14) No more than 2 big plays allowed: [3] fail 15) Pass rating below 125.0: [197.8] fail Score: 0 of 15 (0.0%) fail * Since 1961 Auburn is 45-2 with at least 540-yards in total offense and both losses were suffered this year. Since 1961 Auburn is 134-4, when scoring 38 points during regulation. Two of those losses occurred this season. This was the first time in school history Auburn lost a game after scoring at least 40 points during regulation. Special Teams Report Card: 1) Punt Average (Above 41.3): [41.0] 0 inside 20 (fail) 2) Punt Return Defense (Below 7.8 YPR): [12.0] fail 3) Punt Return Offense (Above 9.8 YPR): [0.0] fail 4) Kick-Return Defense (Below 21.2 YPR): [15.8] pass 5) Kick-Return Offense (Above 22.3 YPR): [20.8] fail 6) PAT’s (100%): [4 of 4] pass 7) FG Pct (75% or above): [100.0%] pass Score: 3 of 7 (42.9%) fail * Keep in mind that 50% is a passing score. War Eagle!
  2. Post game Numbers & Thoughts: Prior to the 2014 Iron Bowl, Auburn had passed for a combined 446-yards during their last 4 meetings against the Tide. Nick Marshall passed for 456-yards last night. Prior to last night Alabama had allowed only 2.6 trips per game inside their red zone. Auburn had 8 trips last night but only scored 2 TD's. Alabama was No. 7 nationally in TD percentage allowed inside the RZ. Though Auburn had opportunities to score more points, their 27 points scored inside the RZ, far exceeded the 12.0 PPG Alabama had allowed inside the RZ prior to last night's game. The 630-yards gained against Alabama last night was the 4th most yards gained by an Auburn offense in conference play. It was the most ever gained against Alabama by Auburn and the most yardage gained by an Auburn offense against a team ranked No. 1. Auburn is now 32-2 since 1960, when gaining at least 500-yards against a conference opponent during regulation. Both losses came this season. Auburn has averaged 502-yards and 37 PPG in conference play during 17 games as Gus Malzahn as the head coach. Despite the record-setting offensive production, Auburn is 12-5 in those games, primarily because the defense has surrendered an average of 453-yards and 31 PPG. During the previous 17 conference games before Malzahn became head coach, Auburn averaged 287-yards and 17 PPG on offense, while the defense allowed 417-yards and 31 PPG. Cameron Artis-Payne has 1482-yards rushing on the season, fighting for every inch he could muster last night against Alabama. He finished the game with 77-yards on 25 carries. I have watched 36 Iron Bowls during my lifetime and I've never witnessed an Auburn offense attack an Alabama defense the way I saw last night. During the 7 previous Iron Bowls (2007-2013) with Nick Saban as the head coach, Auburn's offense had a combined total of 8 plays of 30-yards or more combined. The most impact plays during any of those games was 7. Last night Auburn had 11 impact plays of which 6 went for over 30-yards. During Auburn's last 6 conference games, the opponent has averaged 483-yards and 39 PPG, scoring a TD every 14 plays defended. Since 1992 Auburn is 92-2, when the offense scores on at least 42 percent of their offensive possessions. The two losses both occurred this season. Sammie Coates 206-yards in receiving was 5th best in school history and the most receiving yardage an Auburn player has ever recorded against Alabama. Since 1986 Auburn has faced 30 opponents ranked in the top-5. Nick Marshall has produced the top-4 passing performances based on efficiency-rating during those games. During the last 7 games the Auburn offense had a passing-grade 5 times, special teams 3 times and defense 1 time. With Gus Malzahn directing the Auburn offense, the Tigers have averaged 435-yards and 32 PPG during 42 conference games. The defense during that same time period has allowed 409-yards and 29 PPG. Prior to last night, the most yardage gained by an Auburn offense against a top-10 defense was 451-yards. Auburn shattered that mark with 630-yards. Auburn is now 10-3 against top-10 defenses, when gaining at least 350-yards per game since 1981 and 2 of those losses have come during the past 2 seasons. Of Duke Williams 45 receptions on the year, 37 have resulted in an Auburn first down or touchdown. Sammie Coates has 30 receptions on the year and 25 have resulted in a first down or touchdown. Alabama came into the game with the No. 5 rated defense (total-defense), allowing 283 yards per game. Auburn's 620-yards was nearly 123 percent more yardage than Alabama had allowed per game. The Crimson Tide has now dropped to No. 11 in total-defense. Prior to last night Auburn had never lost to Alabama after generating at least 350-yards in offense (10-0). Despite gaining over 600-yards, Auburn still lost by 11 points. Auburn is now 111-1 from 1951-2014, when scoring 40 points or more during regulation. I thought the entire team played with passion and desire last night. There was no indication a "team" going through the motions and no sign of quit. Some will say they saw some players quit last night but I disagree. There is a big difference between quitting and a player working through frustration. Last night I saw an offense confident in their game plan, working hard to execute it to the best of their ability. They believed in their game plan and coaches and became stronger after every successful play. I saw a defense that played hard and with passion early on but often looked lost and confused. It is difficult to play with confidence and passion, when you're lost. Speaking of a lack of confidence and being confused. During the first 30 snaps on defense, Auburn allowed 196-yards and 20 points. Had they maintained that pace for the remainder of the game, Auburn would have won. During the next 30 snaps defended, Auburn allowed 345-yards and 35 points. During the first half Auburn's defense allowed 6 impact plays for 105-yards. During the second-half, they surrendered 8 impact plays for 260-yards. It was a perfect example of a house of cards crumbling to the table, once the foundation had been breached. War Eagle!
  3. Quick Start in the Iron Bowl... From 1981-2013, Auburn is 4-10 in the Iron Bowl, when trailing after the first quarter and 14-5, when they don't. Since Gus Malzahn has coached the Auburn offense, the Tigers are 9-7, when trailing at the end of the first quarter and 41-8, when not. During the first 36 quarters of this football season, Auburn was held scoreless in only 3 quarters. During the last 8 quarters, they have been held scoreless in 4. This offensive funk needs to come to a stop against Alabama. ________________________________________________________________________ During the last 40 meetings against Alabama, Auburn has eclipsed 200-yards rushing only 7 times, compiling a 5-2 record, when doing so. Only 1 of those 200-yard rushing performances have come against Nick Saban's Alabama teams. The Tigers have averaged only 135.2 yards rushing per game against Alabama (2007-2013), including an average of 73.6 yards rushing from Auburn's leading rusher at the RB position. This year looks to be another major challenge for Auburn to run the football against the Tide.One of the reasons why Auburn had success running the football last season was Alabama wasn't as dominant on first-down run-defense. _________________________________________________________________________ During the last 50 Iron Bowls, Auburn has a pass rating of just 103.6. During the games AU had a pass rating of at least 130 on at least 10 pass attempts, the Tigers are 9-1. ___________________________________________________________________ An Auburn record that will likely stand for awhile is Bo Jackson's 4 consecutive 100-yard rushing games against Alabama (1982-1985). Jackson averaged 7.0 yards per rush against the Tide. Roc Thomas might have the opportunity to start the next run this Saturday night. ___________________________________________________________________ From 2008-2014, Alabama has only been defeated 10 times and of those 10 losses, 6 were by 6-points or less. The winner averaged 222-yards passing, completing 68% of their passes for an average of 8.5 yards per attempt. They also threw for a combined total of 24 TD passes and only 4 interceptions against the Tide defense. On defense the winner held Alabama to an average of 110.7 yards rushing for 3.3 yards per rush. During this same time period (2008-2014) Auburn is 19-1, when the complete at least 60% of their passes for at least 8-yards per attempt, while holding their opponent to under 150-yards rushing. Auburn is 7-2 vs. Alabama since 1981, when they complete at least 60% of their passes. Nick Marshall needs to play well and the Auburn front-7 needs to play well against the run. ___________________________________________________________________ Josh Thompson is the last Auburn DL to lead the team in tackles during a single game with at least 10 tackles. He had 12 stops against Alabama in 2007. _________________________________________________________________________ During the last 50 Iron Bowls, Auburn is 10-0 with at least 350-yards in total offense. _________________________________________________________________________ During the last 7 Iron Bowls, Auburn averaged 5.71 yards per play on first down during their 3 victories and only 3.80 yards per play during their 4 losses. Playing well on first down will be essential. _________________________________________________________________________ Since 1981 the team with the most rushing yardage at the end of the game is 27-6 in the Iron Bowl. Auburn has averaged 284-yards rushing in conference play, while allowing 178-yards on defense. Alabama has averaged 167-yards in conference play, while allowing 115-yards on defense. _________________________________________________________________________ During the last 20 Iron Bowls, the team that won the first-down battle in yards per play is 15-5 in the series. _________________________________________________________________________ Since 1981 Auburn is 8-2, when they are able to run the ball at least 64 percent of the time on first down and 4-8, when they don't.
  4. Last season placed Auburn back into the national picture but only continued success at this highest level will create the "perception" of being an elite program. Consider the percentage of seasons Auburn had with a win percentage of .750 or better... 1950-1959: 30.0% - 1 SEC Title 1960-1969: 20.0% 1970-1979: 40.0% 1980-1989: 60.0% - 4 SEC Ttiles 1990-1999: 30.0% 2000-2009: 30.0% - 1 SEC Title 2010-2013: 50.0% - 2 SEC Titles It is easy to see why the 1980's under Pat Dye is considered the most successful decade of Auburn football. This current decade has the potential to be as good as the 80's. The Big Six in the SEC: ( Pct of seasons of .750 or better 1990-2013) Florida ................. 62.5% *8 SEC Titles Alabama .............. 54.2% *4 LSU ..................... 50.0% *4 Tennessee ........... 50.0% *3 Georgia ............... 45.8% *2 Auburn ................ 33.3% *3 The Big Six in the SEC (2000-2013): LSU ..................... 71.4% * 4 SEC Titles Alabama .............. 57.1% *2 Florida ................ 50.0% *3 Georgia .............. 50.0% *2 Auburn ................ 35.7% *3 Tennessee ........... 21.4% *0 Though Florida had a horrible season last year, a 10-win season in 2014 gets them back in the media spotlight immediately because of their history over the past 24 seasons. Alabama is basking in the spotlight under Nick Saban, who has won 4 MNC's since arriving in the SEC. Alabama is currently on a six-year run of 10-wins or more, which is why they are so highly ranked entering the 2014 season. Voters will give Alabama and Nick Saban the benefit of the doubt based on their recent success. Keep in mind it is much easier for reporters and members of the media to write and report on teams that are successful than researching the teams that are about to make their runs of success. Even LSU without Nick Saban has maintained their national presence in the world of college football because of their success under Les Miles. Les Miles has led LSU to a MNC and two conference titles since taking over the program. Despite not winning a MNC, Mark Richt and Georgia tend to receive positive media attention. The Bulldogs went 8-5 last season (finished unranked) and lost their most productive QB but are ranked No. 12 in the preseason Coaches Poll (2014). This is likely built upon their ability to post .750 seasons at a 50% clip over the past 14 seasons. Over the past 5 seasons UGA has compiled a 4-13 record against teams that won 75% of their games and are 2-3 in bowl games. Their last conference championship was in 2005.
  5. Once again Auburn's coaching staff had the team prepared to play, which kept them in position to win in the end. Alabama might have entered the game with the more talented roster but Malzahn's staff out-coached Saban's staff and Auburn's players never showed an ounce of quit. They bought into the new coaching staff with every victory providing more and more confidence as the season progressed. All we heard for the past 2 weeks was how great the Alabama run-defense was but very little about Auburn's running attack. In the end, Alabama could stop the Auburn run-offense and Nick Marshall finished the game with a pass-efficiency rating of 160.9. Though the defense struggled at times, they did manage four "3 & out" series along with a loss on down series. Alabama made it to the Auburn red zone 6 times but came away with only 3 scoring drives, which was a key to victory. After surrendered 21 points during the first half, the Auburn defense held Alabama to only 7 points during the second-half. It was another case of a "team" victory for the Auburn Tigers as all three phases of the game, came up with critical plays during the game. Auburn now moves to 11-1 on the season, which should put to rest all the garbage of the 2010 season being all about Cameron Newton. Any victory over Alabama is sweet but this game meant so much more. Auburn took down the No. 1 ranked team in the country, which means Malzahn has returned Auburn to the nation's elite status. The key will be if Auburn can maintain this level of success over an extensive period of time. Auburn might not be the best team in the country but this team can certainly play with anyone in the country right now. The mark of as good team is it's ability to improve as the season progresses and this has certainly been the case for the 2013 Auburn Tigers. Inside the Numbers ... Auburn has been held scoreless in only 3 of 48 quarters this season and only 1 time during the last 34 quarters. Tre Mason is now averaging 123.1 yards rushing per game in conference play. Tre Mason is now 2 rushing TD's away from tying the school record for rushing TD's. He has established the new record (18) among Auburn running backs. Nick Marshall needs 78-yards rushing to eclipse the 1000-yard mark for the season. Auburn is currently averaging 286.3 yards rushing in conference play. Chris Davis finished the game with 10 tackles along with the game-winning touchdown. Auburn's 296-yards rushing is the most rushing yardage allowed by the Alabama defense against a conference opponent from 2008-2013. The 2013 offense has totaled 3821-yards rushing and 39 TD's through 12 games, exceeding the 3497-yards and 38 TD's by the 2010 Auburn offense through the regular season. One of the keys for the game was whether or not Auburn could run the ball on first-down vs. Alabama's defense. Auburn averaged 6.04 yards per rush on first-down, which set up manageable third-down situations for the Auburn offense. Take away Alabama's 6 impact plays on offense and they finished with 239-yards on their remaining 58 snaps. Nick Marshall finished the game 11 of 12 passing within 10-yards of the line of scrimmage for 97-yards and 2 TD's. Since Auburn began to emphasize the read-option against Ole Miss, Nick Marshall and Tre Mason have combined for 236.1 yards rushing during the last 7 games they have played together. Auburn is now 13-3 vs. Alabama, when they run the ball at least 40 times since 1981. Auburn is now 34-2, the last 36 times they have won 2 out of the 3 phases of the game in terms of offense, defense and special teams. Nick Marshall is currently averaging 231.7 yards per game in total-offense. Auburn is now 4-1 on the season vs. opponents ranked at the time the Tigers played them. Auburn has only 1 scoreless period during the second-half, while the defense has totaled 8 scoreless periods against their opponent. With Gus Malzahn on the Auburn staff, the Tigers are now 16-3 in games decided by 7-points or less. This includes an 8-1 record against ranked opponents. During the 3 previous meetings against Alabama, Auburn rushed for a combined 278-yards. The Tigers racked up 296-yards against the No. 4 rated run-defense. Final Word... During my preview for the game, I noted the number of snaps Auburn and Alabama had taken, while trailing on the scoreboard this season. The Tigers entered the game with 212 snaps and Alabama had only 19. I thought this would become crucial should the game become tight. Though Alabama had experience playing in big games the last few years, Auburn this season had faced more adversity than Alabama and were used to playing under the gun. As they have done all season, they consistently kept themselves in position to make plays late to come out victorious. With Missouri defeating Texas A&M, the match up is set for the Southeastern Conference Championship. It has been a major turn around for both participants but the dream season will come to end for one of the two teams this coming Saturday. Auburn has the better run-offense and Missouri has the better defense, so it should be a very good game. Neither team was expected to win their divisions and now they have a grand opportunity to win a conference championship. The Auburn coaching staff now faces the task of keeping the player's emotions in check with only 1 week to prepare for the conference championship. The team has been focused for each game but it would have been nice to have that extra week to celebrate the win over Alabama. Make no mistake about it, Missouri has fielded a very good team this season. They are far more balanced on offense than Auburn and have performed far better on defense. It will take another stellar performance by Auburn to win their third SEC Championship game. War Eagle!
  6. 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?
  7. Recruiting against Alabama has become even more of a challenge with their recent success under Nick Saban. Bottom line, they have won a lot of games and championships to go along with top-5 defenses for 5 consecutive seasons. It certainly makes their job easier selling their success on defense to future recruits. Everything changes with winning (consistently)... Media attention, preseason rankings and recruiting. Over the past 5 seasons, Alabama has compiled the best win pct in the SEC with a 61-7 record. During the same time period, they have sent 24 players to the NFL through the draft. Georgia and LSU are currently tied for 1st place with 28 players drafted from 2008-2012. Auburn has 15. Alabama has sent the most players to the NFL Draft from 2009-2012. During those 4 drafts, Alabama had 24 to Auburn's 10. For now, 5 other teams within the conference have placed more players in the NFL Draft than Auburn from 2008-2012. IMO, this is a very strong recruiting class Malzahn's staff is piecing together but the key will be development, something the previous staff lacked. Win 6-8 games in 2013 and build from there. The 2010 season was terrific but was sandwiched between two 8-5 seasons. Alabama currently has 5 consecutive 10-win seasons going, while Auburn has five 10-win seasons from 1993-2012. Difficult to recruit and compete against consistency. Right now, Auburn has to sell their "future" to recruits, while teams like Alabama, Georgia and LSU can sell recent success in wins and NFL draft picks. This is why I believe the current coaching staff is doing a very good job in selling the future but it will require eventual success to maintain it. I've stated the obvious but that's my 2 cents... Looking forward to seeing the 2013 class sign tomorrow, hopefully with a strong finish for the final 7 players, which appears to be highly probable. Sometimes we get caught up on the one's we lost in recruiting more so than appreciating the players Auburn inked. This will be a great beginning for Malzahn's staff but can they build on it?
  8. Over the past 5 seasons Alabama has compiled a record of 61-7, winning 3 BCSNC games along the way. Alabama's 3 national championships in 4 years marks only the 3rd time since the 1940's, a team has accomplished this feat. Does this make Nick Saban the greatest coach of all time? Probably not but it certainly places his name in the discussion to say the least. There are those who will argue that Alabama has backed their way into their last 2 BCSNC and there is some truth to it. Of course only 2 teams from a BCS conference has gone undefeated over the past 7 years, which increases the chances a team with 1 loss can win a national championship. When the NCAA goes to a 4-team playoff format, it will actually increase the opportunity for a 1-loss team to win the BCS Championship. Alabama will likely be a preseason No. 1 next season, which means they can likely afford 1 slip up along the way and still make it to the title game. Alabama might not be the greatest program of all time under Nick Saban but their history reveals they rarely beat themselves and it takes a good to great team to beat them. Of their 7 losses, 6 have come to teams that finished the season with 11-wins or better. Over the past 5-years, Alabama has won over 72 percent of their games by 14 or more points. How impressive is that? During the same time period, only 9 BCS teams have won more than 72 percent of their games overall. 12 of their last 68 games have been settled by 7-points or less and Alabama is 8-4 in those games. Bottom line, they are a well-coached football team, loaded with talent and it normally takes 4 quarters to beat them, when it does happen. So what does this mean for Auburn? The thought process after the 2011 season was to build the team in a similar fashion to Alabama and LSU. Construct a team around a solid defense, strong running game and efficient passer. If you can actually achieve those goals you do indeed increase the probability of fielding a very good team but its not the only way to win a championship. It does start with recruiting and over the past 4 seasons, Auburn has recruited well on paper. The next step in the process is developing the talent, which Auburn has failed to accomplish. One could argue that Alabama has done a better job of recruiting players that actually fit their schemes than Auburn, not to mention an obvious edge in player development. A player can be highly touted but does he naturally fit into the schemes a team operates from? The same cane be said about a 3-star recruit that can prosper under the right working conditions to become a playmaker. Gus Malzahn has compiled a coaching staff that should be able to recruit very well but the key will be bringing in the right personnel to blend into their offensive and defensive schemes. The next step will be player development, which includes strength and conditioning. More importantly will be the task of developing the right mental philosophy, where the players know what is expected to compete and win, with no exceptions. Alabama has won at a high level because Saban has stressed a strong work ethic in every phase of preparation. There are no short cuts and any deviation from the plan will result in some form of failure along the way. The players must reach a point, where they understand this concept and are willing to go that extra mile to compete at the highest level. Malzahn's staff should be able to recruit but can they instill the same kind of work ethic Alabama has shown over the past 5 years? Will he and his coaches be able to field a disciplined team on and off the field? This will be the difference in raising Auburn's level of performance and consistency. Auburn is in dire need of becoming stronger physically and mentally and this won't come over a one-year period. It will take some time to change the culture of competition at Auburn but it certainly can begin this season. Pat Dye was able to do it during the 1980's and Tommy Tuberville managed to build the right mental attitude but some of his teams simply lacked the overall talent to win big except for one glorious season. Auburn's last 3 head coaches have been able to field an undefeated team but they all failed at maintaining that level of play. The fact three coaches led his team to an undefeated season means many of the components are in place to win big at Auburn but winning consistently means taking it to another level. Saban's teams are not perfect but they are talented and well prepared, which equates to consistency. Schematically speaking, Auburn doesn't need to duplicate what Alabama does on the field but they must equal Alabama in talent and player development. Of Alabama's 7 losses over the past 5 seasons, 4 have come to teams operating in some form of the spread offense. All players at this level are competitive in nature on the field but not all are as competitive off the field, when it comes to conditioning and preparation. A few talented and well prepared players can make the difference in one game but it takes a team to win a championship. Championship teams are built off the field and before the season begins, which is where Auburn has struggled the past couple of seasons. If Auburn is to improve in 2013 it will primarily come from the work the coaches and players put into the off-season more so than X's and O's on game day. Alabama might not be the best program of all time but under Nick Saban they have been the best prepared to compete over the past 5 years. This has allowed them the opportunity to slide into the last 2 BCSNC games and dominate once they arrived. I do believe Gus Malzahn is taking the right steps thus far in compiling a solid coaching staff that can recruit as well as develop their personnel. What remains to be seen is the work and effort put forth behind closed doors. If Malzahn's staff can reach a point of obtaining the most of their personnel, the wins will begin to fall in place. The key to developing consistency will be knowing the process never ends and that the competition is also striving to improve.
  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. We have seen more 2-back sets this season with the combination of Michael Dyer and Onterio McCalebb. It was needed to make up for the loss of Cameron Newton. Dyer is now the inside threat and McCalebb is the outside threat. The play... Though Alabama will likely make it rough for Dyer between the tackles, Auburn must be committed to the inside run options to keep the threat of the outside game alive. Auburn's cross-buck action with the RB's has been successful this season, forcing the opposing defense to honor both options in the running game. Because Auburn runs between the tackles 61 percent of the time, McCalebb or Tre Mason should have their moments to shine this Saturday. It's important to remember Nick Saban has scouted Gus Malzahn's offense for 3 years now. They will have a solid read on formation and personnel, which is why it's important AU doesn't call too many plays easily recognized based on previous tendencies. Though plays like above are recognizable, it still forces the defense to defend both backs. This is why I like the variation of formations AU has shown with the QB under center because it has shown different personnel.
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