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  1. During the past 2 games the Auburn offense has scored 8 TD's with 9 trips to the red zone. From 1993-2014 Auburn is 80-4 in games the Tigers make at least 4 trips to the RZ, scoring TD's at least 60% of the time. This is a revealing stat, which shows just how important RZ performance is to the success of the team. Last season Nick Marshall completed 56.5% of his passes in the RZ, compiling a QB rating of 163.7. This season Marshall has completed 68.4% of his passes for a QB rating of 243.8. Marshall is No. 8 nationally in pass-efficiency inside the RZ, among QB's with at least 10 pass attempts. The play... During this play Auburn faces a 2nd & 9 from the Rebel 17-yard line. Auburn comes out in a 4-WR set with Melvin Ray and Marcus Davis on the boundary side (Davis in the slot). At the snap Nick Marshall play-actions and will immediately read how the boundary safety is playing the two WR's. Melvin Ray will run a deep square-in to clear the boundary sideline as Marcus Davis will run an out and up. The boundary safety plays the square-in route, leaving the OLB 1 on 1 with Marcus Davis. The OLB jumps the initial out-route with Davis but he looks back into the backfield to see where Marshall is focused. As the OLB looks back into the backfield, Davis breaks up the sideline towards the end zone. Marshall floats his pass towards the end zone, allowing Davis to run under the pass for the score. The play design is going to create a 1 on 1 match up and the double-move is almost a lock to create a breakdown in the secondary. This has always been one of my favorite RZ pass-plays under Malzahn. Emory Blake scored a TD in the 2010 SECCG on this same play.
  2. D'haquille Williams has been a key component of the Auburn pass-offense this season. Of his 37 receptions this season, 29 have resulted in a first down or touchdown for the Auburn offense. This also includes 18 impact plays. Of his 15 receptions on third-down, 13 have resulted in a first down or touchdown. Against Ole Miss Nick Marshall made 4 critical completions on third-down, totaling 107-yards of offense. Marshall prior to the last bye-week was completing only 51% of his third-down passes. Since the bye-week, Marshall has completed 64% of his third down passes the last two games. The play... The Auburn offense faces a 3rd down and 5 from the Rebel 20-yard line. The Auburn offense comes out in a 2-WR set with Duke Williams lined up on the wide-side of the field. Just before the snap Ricardo Louis motions into the backfield on the speed-sweep look. Nick Marshall will play-action with Louis after the snap to freeze the LB's. As Marshall drops to pass, he will look off his intended target (Williams), focusing on the TE coming off the line. Duke Williams will fake the post-route and cut back outside on the deep out-route. Because Williams makes a hard cut inside to sell the post-route the CB and safety both bite on the initial move inside. Once Williams breaks back outside, the CB is completely turned around and out of position. Nick Marshall floats his pass to the sideline, where Williams makes the reception. He initially juggled the reception but regained control before going out of bounds. Needing only 1 foot in bounds, Williams manages to get both feet down, which would have made it a reception at the next level.
  3. During Ole Miss Clipbit #1, we witnessed Malzahn adding options to plays previously called. Sticking with this theme, we will see a play Nick Marshall has gashed opponents with by running the football. This time around he utilizes a third option and makes a pass from the same play, rather than running the football. Of the adjustments made during the bye-week after the MSU loss, Nick Marshall appears to have benefited the most, closely followed by Cameron Artis-Payne. Prior to the final bye-week, Marshall had completed 55% of his passes for 7.4 yards per attempt. He has a QB rating of 138.4 during the first 6 games. During the last 2 games, Marshall has completed 75% of his passes for 10.9 yards per attempt. This has resulted in a QB rating of 188.6, making him one of the most efficient passers in the country. The play... During this play the Auburn offense has the ball at the Ole Miss 46-yard line (1st & 10). Once again Malzahn utilizes cross-buck action with Ricardo Louis coming in motion into the backfield for the speed-sweep look. Marshall will fake the sweep to the wide side and turn to Roc Thomas on the give to the boundary side. Marshall fakes the inside give to Thomas and darts to the perimeter. Previously the slot-WR would move laterally to pull the defender outside, creating a wide running lane for Marshall on the edge. Ole Miss has seen this on tape and elects to defend the edge and Nick Marshall. This opens up the third-option on this play, which is the pass to Quan Bray. Once 4 defenders commit to Marshall, the quarterback makes the pass to Quan Bray. Quan Bray hauls in the pass and heads down field for a gain of 20-yards and an Auburn first down. This play is beginning to become Auburn's base play on offense because it has so many options. There are 3 run-options off this play and multiple pass-options. Before the Bye-week, Nick Marshall was directly involved in an impact play, every 5.39 touches, better than Cam Newton's ratio during 2010 of 1 every 5.69. Since the recent bye-week, Marshall is hitting at 1 every 3.61 plays.
  4. Auburn's 508-yards in total offense was the most yardage gained by an Auburn offense against a top-10 defense from 1981-2014. Despite a turnover, dropped TD pass and 13 penalties, Auburn was able to overcome adversity, to record a 35-31 victory over the 4th ranked Ole Miss Rebels. One of the keys to success on offense were the numerous plays Auburn called, which were secondary-options from previously called plays against South Carolina. Gus Malzahn counted on the Rebel defense to be familiar with the offensive game plan Auburn executed against the Gamecocks. Auburn showed similar formations and personnel groupings but elected to go with a different play to catch the Rebels off guard. The following play is one of those plays Auburn changed up the actual delivery. The play... On this play the Auburn offense faces a 2nd & 8 from their own 43-yard line. Auburn comes out in a 3-WR set with the H-Back in the backfield with Cameron Artis-Payne. Before the snap Ricardo Louis motions into the backfield on a speed-sweep look from right to left. Last week against the Gamecocks, Auburn executed the actual speed-sweep with Ricardo Louis. The play was successful as Louis recorded 102-yards rushing on 3 rush attempts. The play is designed to utilize Cameron Artis-Payne as a lead blocker for Louis. At the snap Nick Marshall play-actions with Ricardo Louis and rolls to his right. CAP slides out of the backfield to sell the speed-sweep look. As Marshall rolls to his right, Duke Williams runs a shallow crossing-route from his slot-WR position. Marshall looks off his intended target (Duke Williams), which pulls the defenders over top towards the WR running a route closer to the sideline. When the defenders over top clear the middle, Nick Marshall delivers his pass to Duke Williams, who hauls in the pass for a 12-yard gain and an Auburn first down. Auburn scored a touchdown, five players later, giving the Tigers a 7-0 lead early in the first quarter. The majority of plays Malzahn designs possesses a secondary option to be run at a later time. This allows Auburn to exploit opposing defenses from selling out to defend a previous play from the same formation.
  5. Game #8 Statistical Evaluation (Ole Miss Game) Offensive Report Card: 01) Avg 6-yards per play on 1st down: [7.67] pass 02) Convert at least 40% of 3rd downs: [46.2%] pass 03) Avg at least 4.5 yards per rush: [5.50] pass 04) Score on at least 1/3 of possessions: [38.5%] pass 05) Keep 3 and out series under 33%: [38.5%] fail 06) Average 8.0 yards per pass attempt: [11.54 yds] pass 07) Score at least 75% inside red zone: [80.0%] pass 08) TD red zone above 60%: [80.0%] pass 09) Avg at least 30-yards per possession: [39.0 yds] pass 10) 40% of offensive snaps part of scoring drives: [52.9%] pass 11) TD / Turnover ratio above 1.6: [5 TD’s / 1] pass 12) TD ratio of at least 1 every 17 snaps: [13.6] pass 13) At least 8 impact plays: [9] pass 14) At least 2 big plays: [3] pass 15) Pass rating of at least 125.0: [186.1] pass Score: 14 of 15 (93.3%) Pass Defensive Report Card: 01) Avg under 6-yards per play on 1st down: [9.30] fail 02) Convert below 35% of 3rd downs: [38.5%] fail 03) Avg at least 4.0 yards per rush: [5.03] fail 04) Score below 1/3 of possessions: [35.7%] fail 05) Keep 3 and out series above 33%: [28.6%] fail 06) Average below 7.5 yards per pass attempt: [8.12 yds] fail 07) Score below 75% inside red zone: [60.0%] pass 08) TD red zone below 60%: [60.0%] fail 09) Avg under 30-yards per possession: [35.1 yds] fail 10) Less than 40% of offensive snaps part of scoring drives: [36.1%] pass 11) TD / Turnover ratio below 1.6: [4 TD’s / 2 turnovers] fail 12) TD ratio of at least 1 every 30 snaps: [18.0] fail 13) Less than 8 impact plays: [13] fail 14) No more than 2 big plays allowed: [3] fail 15) Pass rating below 125.0: [155.3] fail Score: 2 of 15 (13.3%) Fail Special Teams Report Card: 1) Punt Average (Above 41.3): [39.0] (2 of 7 inside 20) fail 2) Punt Return Defense (Below 7.8 YPR): [6.7] pass 3) Punt Return Offense (Above 9.8 YPR): [5.0] fail 4) Kick-Return Defense (Below 21.2 YPR): [16.0] pass 5) Kick-Return Offense (Above 22.3 YPR): [20.8] fail 6) PAT’s (100%): [5 of 5] pass 7) FG Pct (75% or above): [N/A] Score: 3 of 6 (50.0%) Pass Offense bailed out the defense once again. Auburn was able to accomplish the 3 primary goals for the game. (1) Rush for over 200-yards (2) Play well in the red zone and (3) Win the turnover battle. War Eagle!
  6. Auburn's red zone performance this Saturday night just might be the biggest key of the game. Auburn obviously needs to be able to establish the run and protect the football but red zone offense and defense will likely dictate the outcome of the game against the Rebels. During Auburn's 5 games at home, the Tigers have scored 20 TD's from 22 red zone trips (91%). During their 2 road games, Auburn has scored 3 TD's from 9 trips to the red zone (33%). Basically the same average number of trips to the red zone playing at home and on the road but a huge difference in TD percentage. Overall Auburn is No. 9 nationally in red zone TD pct. They are No. 4 nationally playing at home and No. 119, playing on the road. The play... On this play Auburn has a 1st & goal from the Gamecock 8-yard line. Auburn shifts to a 2-back set before the snap to run their read-option with cross-buck action. At the snap Corey Grant will shoot to the left and Nick Marshall will fake the give to Cameron Artis-Payne to the right. The OLB plays the give to CAP, so Marshall keeps to sprint to his left. Once again the "spur" is faced with a 1 on 2 situation, with the slot-WR and Marshall coming to the edge. Nick Marshall fakes the pass-look to the slot-WR to keep the Spur committed to the receiver. Marshall follows behind Corey Grant, darting to the inside for an 8-yard touchdown run. Through 7 games Auburn is No. 11 nationally in yards per rush (5.96) inside the red zone. It breaks down to No. 7 nationally at home, averaging 6.6 yards per rush and No. 57 nationally on the road with a 4.09 average inside the red zone. The game likely comes down to Auburn's ability to run the football, protecting the football and red zone production. IMO, red zone production will be the biggest key because I believe Auburn will be able to run on the Rebels.
  7. One of the keys to success in Auburn's pass-defense this year has been the combination of solid secondary play and a more consistent pass-rush. We have seen more tight and press coverage this season by the Auburn secondary with great results. On the occasions Ellis Johnson has gone with tight coverage, it has allowed additional time for the DL to apply pressure on the opposing quarterback. On this play Carl Lawson is able to record a sack because Auburn went with press-coverage across the board. Many of the pass-plays by the Ole Miss offense were designed to be quick-developing and underneath routes. This allows their quarterback to make a quick-read and deliver the ball quickly. When Auburn went with tight coverage off the line, it often eliminated the shorter routes, forcing Bo Wallace to hold the ball longer than anticipated. This was the case on this play as Wallace was forced to hold the ball longer than he would have liked. Carl Lawson beats his man with a speed-rush and is able to loop over the pocket. The pass-protection was actually solid for Wallace but the tight coverage forced Wallace to leave the pocket in search of an open receiver. The additional time Wallace held the ball allowed Lawson the time to run him down from behind for the sack.
  8. Auburn's six quarterback sacks recorded against Ole Miss last Saturday night was the most by an Auburn defense since the 2005 Alabama game. Along with the 6 sacks were 14 additional QB hurries. Auburn's 2013 defense has already recorded more QB hurries through 5 games than they did during the 12 games of the 2012 season. Pressure on the quarterback without having to blitz is a major luxury but pressure from the interior line is priceless. If Auburn can continue their improved push from the DT position, the defense will become more dominant. On this play Auburn will run a twist with their 2 DT's, Gabe Wight and Ben Bradley. At the snap Gabe Wright attacks the outside shoulder of the center but cuts back inside the center's left shoulder. At the same time, Ben Bradley loops over Wright to unsettle the Ole Miss blocking scheme. Gabe Wright is so quick off the ball, he toasts the center right up the middle and is upon the quarterback before Bo Wallace has time to react. Pressure from the outside (DE) can be avoided by the QB stepping up in the pocket. Pressure from the interior line doesn't leave many options for the quarterback, especially when it comes as quickly as Wright did on this particular play. Gabe Wright smashes into the quarterback, dropping him for a loss on the play. Wright entered the season with 7.5 career tackles for loss a 2 career sacks. Through 5 games into the 2013 season, he has recorded 6.5 tackles for loss and 2 sacks.
  9. Though Tre Mason was held to 77-yards rushing on 21 carries against Ole Miss, the junior running back picked up an additional 62-yards on 3 receptions against the Rebels. Mason was involved in 2 pass plays of more than 25-yards as well as being the Tigers leading receiver that night. On this play Auburn sets up a screen pass to Tre Mason. Auburn comes out in a 4-WR set to spread the Rebel defense out. At the snap, Nick Marshall looks off his intended target (Tre Mason) as Mason slips out of the backfield. Nick Marshall delivers the screen pass to Mason, who turns up field for a 29-yard gain and Auburn first down. The play was set up by great blocking on the perimeter, which opened up a running lane for the Auburn running back. Note this second view of the same play and the blocking that set up the big gain for the Auburn Tigers. Brandon Fulse, Alex Kozan and Greg Robinson were instrumental to Tre Mason having room to operate down field.
  10. One of the keys to success in the Gus Malzahn offense are the blocks carried out on the perimeter. With the various screen packages and speed-sweeps called, the personnel responsible for blocking in space become essential for productivity. The loss of Jaylon Denson for the season was a major loss because of his ability to seal the edge on perimeter plays. On this play Auburn will run a speed-sweep with Corey Grant. In order for the play to be successful, Auburn must be able to block in space to create a running lane for Grant. Jay Prosch lays the groundwork by taking out the OLB. Brandon Fulse follows up by taking out the safety. The final piece in the puzzle is Melvin Ray, who is responsible for the corner. This play nets only 6-yards but it's a positive gain for the Auburn offense. It only takes one blown assignment to blow this play up for a loss. The right sequence of blocks can open up the sideline for a speedster like Corey Grant.
  11. Coach Ellis Johnson had his DE's in a 2-point stance numerous times during the game to defend against the Ole Miss zone-read play. Having his DE's standing up, gave them better vision in the backfield, which positioned them into a better angle of attack. Bo Wallace and Jeff Scott combined for 23 carries for 58-yards on the night and 52 of those yards came on 1 play. The Auburn defense did a great job defending the zone-read play, which was the heart of the Ole Miss rushing attack. On this play Ole Miss is set to run their zone-read play. In frame #2, Bo Wallace attempts to read Carl Lawson but Lawson doesn't commit inside or outside, forcing the decision back onto to the Ole Miss QB. Bo Wallace elects to keep the ball and run inside of Lawson but Lawson is too quick for this to happen. Carl Lawson wraps the QB up as Nosa Eguae knifes through the LT to help finish off the quarterback. Also notice in frame #2 how LaDarius Owens on the opposite side, patiently plays the back side in the event the QB were to take the play outside. Carl Lawson clearly has the speed and strength to be an impressive pass-rusher but his performance defending the run was special. Younger DE's often are caught out of position because they rush up field or over pursue plays but this wasn't the case for Lawson.
  12. Part of the defensive game plan against Ole Miss was to deploy DE's at the DT position, which would give Auburn an edge in speed and quickness up front. The plan worked as Auburn was able to apply pressure on the Ole Miss offense consistently throughout the contest. On this particular play, Auburn actually has 4 DE's across the front-4, resulting in a sack. On this play Auburn has 4 DE's on the line. Dee Ford, Elijah Daniel, Nosa Eguae and LaDarius Owens make up the Auburn front-4. At the snap, Dee Ford attempts to speed rush around the RT to come over top. The Ole Miss quarterback senses the outside pass-rush and attempts to step up in the pocket. Elijah Daniel is able to make penetration from his DT position, forcing the QB to move to his right, rather than stepping up in the pocket. Because the QB slides to his right, Dee Ford is able to reengage his path to the QB, making the sack. It was this kind of relentless pressure, which allowed Auburn to record 6 sacks and 14 additional QB hurries. Some of the sacks were also aided by great coverage in the secondary, which resulted in the Ole Miss QB holding the ball longer than expected.
  13. There are normally 5-6 times during a game, the offense will have an opportunity to generate a big play solely based on formation and previous tendencies. When these moments arise, it's up to the players to execute the play to maximize the probability for success. In this case, Gus Malzahn sets up the Ole Miss defense with a run-look but will actually execute a pass-play with the intent of freeing up the TE down the sideline. On this play Auburn comes out in a run-look and the Ole Miss defense bites immediately. The presnap look has Auburn with a FB and TE in the backfield and Corey Grant coming in motion on the speed-sweep from right to left. At the snap, the Ole Miss LB's and safety react to the run to Corey Grant (Frame #2). Nick Marshall play-actions with Grant as Brandon Fulse slips out of the backfield and down the boundary sideline. Note in frame #3, the safety on that side responsible for Fulse, commits to the run and leaves Fulse wide open. The OL gives the play plenty of time to develop, which now leaves only the execution of the pass itself. Nick Marshall makes his throw but leads Fulse too far inside and the play results in an incomplete pass. Gus Malzahn later allows Marshall to redeem himself by calling the identical play again from a different personnel grouping and formation, which results in a long pass play.
  14. Even though Nick Marshall struggled at times in the passing game against Ole Miss, he did find his groove in the running game. It was the first time this season Gus Malzahn made a concerted effort to establish his starting quarterback in the running game. Marshall responded with 14 carries for 140-yards and a touchdown. Of his 14 carries, 5 went for more than 15-yards, which was the primary reason for Auburn's success on the ground. On this play Auburn will execute the zone-read with Ole Miss blitzing a CB off the edge. The key to Auburn's success against the Rebels was Marshall's ability to read the DE, each time the Tigers ran their zone-read play. On this occasion, the Rebels blitz their corner but Marshall is able to respond with an athletic move. At the snap, Nick Marshall reads the DE crashing down to play Tre Mason, so Marshall elects to pull the ball out and keep. At this point he must make an adjustment to the CB coming off the edge. Nick Marshall initially takes an outside angle but cuts back inside of the blitzing corner after the corner takes a poor pursuit angle. The hard cut inside the CB, leaves the DB grabbing at air as Marshall explodes past the CB and into the secondary. He bounces back towards the sideline, gaining 28-yards before he his forced out of bounds. The long gainer resulted in a TD on Auburn's opening drive. Marshall did a terrific job reading the play throughout the game, showing his elusiveness to avoid tackles and initial contact.
  15. During the post game, Coach Ellis Johnson commended Coach Rodney Garner for his work and preparation with the Auburn DL this season. The DL was a work in progress, when the season began but to their credit, they have progressed along with the season. The DL had it's best game of the season in tackles, TFL, QB pressures and sacks. Some of the sacks came because of great coverage, forcing the Ole Miss QB to hold the ball longer than desired. On this play, the Ole Miss line will double-team Ben Bradley. This opens the door for the 3 remaining Auburn lineman. Gabe Wright beats the RG with a swat and swim move over top to obtain an inside track to the quarterback. The best pressure in the world is inside pressure because it prevents the quarterback from stepping up in the pocket. Once Wright beats the RG, he takes down the Ole Miss QB for a sack. Throughout the night we witnessed multiple players on the DL taking advantage of their 1 on 1 opportunities along with coverage-sacks. Because the pressure was coming primarily from the front-4 and from all angles, it kept the Ole Miss OL on their heels. The floodgates were opened and the Auburn DL frequently flowed into the Ole Miss backfield.
  16. Something that could make the offense more explosive is the utilization of the RB's in the passing game. Flare passes, screens and wheel routes are easy completions for Nick Marshall and it allows the RB's to make plays in space. Because the RB's have been the most consistent performers within the offense this season, why not use them more often in the passing game. Tre Mason has been targeted as a receiver 8 times through 5 games and he's made all 8 receptions. He is currently on pace for 21 receptions in a 13-game season. On this play Gus Malzahn shows a run-heavy formation with 3 backs in the backfield with Nick Marshall and only 2 WR's. Ole Miss counters with 8 in the box and a lone safety playing high over the top. It's a tight formation, which opens up the flat for a pass. At the snap Corey Grant slides across in front of Nick Marshall for the play-action, which draws the LB's and safety in run-support. At the same time, Tre Mason slips out of the backfield on a wheel-route down the boundary sideline. The design of the play draws in the Ole Miss defense and leaves Mason uncovered on the sideline. Nick Marshall initially looks off his primary target (Mason) but comes back to make the pass to the boundary sideline. Mason hauls in the pass and stretches out the play for a 34-yard and Auburn first down. This play later sets up a TD for the Auburn offense to give the Tigers a 27-9 lead. It's a safe play for the quarterback and allows the offense to remain creative, even in a conservative mode.
  17. Upon Further Review - Ole Miss Game The Auburn defense rose up on 3rd-down vs. Ole Miss, recording 4 sacks and 1 interception against the Rebels. Of their 19 3rd-down plays, Ole Miss was held to no gain 11 times and for a loss, 6 times. Coming into the Ole Miss game, the Auburn offense had converted only 1 of 11 third-downs during the second period. Against the Rebels, Auburn was 3 of 4 on third-downs during the second quarter. Of Auburn's 10 plays of 30-yards or more this season, 7 have come during the second half. In terms of consistency, 53.8% of the plays executed by the Auburn offense went for at least 5-yards. On defense, the Tigers held Ole Miss to 27.0%. Both were season highs for the Auburn offense and defense. Ole Miss averaged 6.3 yards per play during the first half and were held to 4.5 yards per play during the second half. This is a continuing theme for the Auburn defense, which has performed better later in the game. Through 5 games, 47.6% of the snaps defended by the Auburn defense has been held to 2-yards or less. The 2012 defense hit at 41.2% for the entire season and 42% through 5 games. Through 5 games, 46.1% of Auburn's snaps on first down have resulted in at least 5-yards and 39.6% have resulted in 3-yards or less. Through 5 games, I have predicted an average score of 30-24 in Auburn's games and the average score has actually been 29-22. Of Auburn's 38 impact plays on offense, 19 have come on the ground and 19 through the air. With 5 impact run-plays against Ole Miss, Nick Marshall now leads the Auburn offense with 10 impact plays on the season. Nine have come rushing a 1 by reception. Sammie Coates is 2nd with 6 and Tre Mason along with Corey Grant have 5 on the season. Second down was the best passing down for Nick Marshall against Ole Miss. He was 6 of 8 for 79-yards. On 1st & 3rd downs, Marshall combined for 5 of 9 for just 14-yards. Auburn was No. 101 in pass-efficiency defense during 2012, improving to No. 32 this season. This is a primary reason why the defense has improved this season. Auburn is currently allowing 3.6 yards per rush during the first-half and 5.8 yards during the 2nd-half. The better run-defense has come, when the opponent has emphasized the run during the first half, with 57.3% of their rushing attempts. 20 of Auburn's 23 scoring drives this season has been aided by at least 1 impact play. There has been a total of 29 impact plays during Auburn's 23 scoring drives. The Auburn DL was responsible for 38.8% of the team's tackles against Ole Miss. This was a season high for the DL, which has accounted for 28.9% of the team's tackles through 5 games. After being penalized 9 times against Arkansas State, Auburn has been penalized only 8 times during their last 3 games combined. Through 5 games, 49.2% of Auburn's offensive snaps have been part of a scoring drive. 34.0% of the opponent's offensive snaps have been part of a scoring drive against the Auburn defense. An Auburn turnover has been worth 1 point for the opponent this year and the opponent's turnover has been worth 3.6 points for the Tigers. War Eagle!
  18. The scoring projections for the Ole Miss game indicated a possible double-digit victory for the Tigers if they took care of the football and a close victory for Ole Miss if Auburn was careless with the football. Fortunately for the Tigers, the defense saved the day, when Auburn turned the ball over and Auburn cashed in on a pick-6, which was basically the difference in the game. Auburn has now turned the ball over in every game this season, which prevented them from winning the Mississippi State and Ole Miss games by a larger margin. Ball security must become a major priority for the Auburn coaching staff this week as they can ill afford to be careless with the football against Texas A&M, two weeks from now. Nick Marshall took a step backwards in his progression as a passer against Ole Miss but to his credit, he made up for some of it with his running ability. The junior quarterback rushed for 140-yards including 5 impact plays on the ground. This miss to Sammie Coates for a sure TD pass and the miss to a wide-open Brandon Fulse during the first half were reminders of Marshall's lack of touch on his passes. The deep ball to Coates was excusable to a degree but the poorly thrown ball to Fulse was not. The Fulse sideline route is the type of play Marshall must make in the future for the Auburn offense to reach it's full potential. The ground game is there for Auburn but will be easier to defend minus any threat in the passing game. The Auburn defense gave up way too many big plays but made up for it with an aggressive pass-rush by the front-4 along with the pick-6. Auburn finished the night with 14 tackles for loss, including 6 sacks. Along with the sacks were 17 additional quarterback hurries. The 6 sacks were the most by an Auburn defense since the 2005 Alabama game. Except for Auburn's turnovers, the Tiger were able to accomplish what they set out to do for the most part. On offense, they scored early and established their running game. On defense, the Tigers took away the heart of the Ole Miss ground game and applied plenty of pressure on their passing game. It was certainly a victory the Auburn Tigers can continue to build upon. Inside the Numbers... For the first time this season, we were able to see the athletic ability of Nick Marshall in the running game over the course of an entire game. He led the offense in rushing with his first 100-yard game as an Auburn Tiger. Nine of his 14 carries resulted in at least 9-yards or a TD. For the fifth consecutive game, Nick Marshall struggled in the passing game during the first half. He was 5 of 9 in passing for 49-yards and a passer rating of just 101.3. He improved slightly during the second half with a rating of 121.2. The defensive line had their best game of the season against the Rebels. They combined for 26 tackles, 12.5 TFL, 6 sacks and 9 quarterback hurries. Anthony Swain playing in relief of the injured Cassanova McKinzy was huge. He led the defense in tackles (8) and solo tackles (7). Tre Mason finished the game with 140-yards on 24 offensive touches, which included 1 TD and 2 impact plays. Tre Mason had 192 all-purpose yards against the Rebels, coming very close to taking another kick-return back. Prior to the 2013 season, Auburn had won the tackle for loss battle in only 4 of their previous 25 games. Through 5 games this season, Auburn has already equaled that total. This is a great indicator of how much the OL and DL have improved for the Tigers. With 282-yards rushing against Ole Miss, Gus Malzahn's offense logged it's 30th 200-yard rushing performance during the 45 games he has been associated with the Auburn offense. During his tenure, Auburn has averaged 229-yards rushing per game on 5.2 yards per carry. If not for the coaching change, Robenson Therezie's collegiate football career might have been questionable. He clearly has found his comfort zone with the new staff and is leading the team in tackles as well as interceptions. His 78-yard return for a touchdown was basically the difference in the game. Through 5 games, the Auburn offense has permitted a tackle for loss every 16.1 snaps, the best ratio by an Auburn offense the last 20 seasons and a major improvement from 1 every 7.5 snaps during 2012. For the season, Auburn has recorded 42 tackles for loss, while allowing 22. Special teams has truly been consistently special the past several seasons for the Auburn Tigers. They have posted passing grades in 35 of the last 44 games, far exceeding the production of the offense and defense. On a side note, when Auburn has posted passing grades in 2 of the 3 phases of the game, Auburn has compiled a 27-2 record the past 3 seasons. Thanks to the defense and special teams, Ole Miss had an average starting field-position of their own 25-yard line. Everyone of their possessions began on their side of the field. This was huge considering they netted at least 48-yards on 6 of their 14 offensive possessions. Once again the Auburn defense stepped up big on 3rd-down conversions during the second half. Ole Miss was 4 off 11 during the first half and only 1 of 8 during the second half. Through 5 games, Auburn's opponents have converted 48% of their 3rd downs during the first half and only 24% during the second half. This includes only 14% during the 4th quarter. During the first 8 possessions of the game, Ole Miss averaged 48-yards per possession and only 21-yards during their last 6 possessions. Final Word: From 1992-2012, Auburn compiled a record of 38-51-2 in conference play, when the Tigers turned the ball over at least 2 times. This season Auburn is 2-1, which reflects the resiliency of the 2013 Auburn Tigers. Though they have dug themselves some holes during the course of games, they have found ways of bouncing back and overcoming their miscues. It is still is an issue (turnovers) Auburn must address but it's good to know they don't fall to pieces, when the going gets rough. It appears the team remains a work in progress but it's also evident the team is still improving as the season progresses. The current coaching staff has done a solid job of obtaining the most of their personnel for the most part, which has made up for some of the talent issues at some positions. The victory over Ole Miss has basically assured the Tigers of becoming bowl eligible this season but they are certainly in position to strive for a better position in the pecking order of the bowl games. The offensive line, running game and special teams have been the foundation of the 2013 Auburn Tigers but they need the quarterback and overall defense to continue to improve. The Tigers will more than likely be 5-1, when they hit the road to play Texas A&M in two weeks and they will arrive with more confidence than they began the season with against Washington State. Auburn will likely be a heavy underdog in that game but if they continue to find ways of making plays at critical moments, there is no telling what this team is capable of accomplishing. War Eagle!
  19. Game #5 Statistical Evaluation (Ole Miss Game) 2013 Offensive Report Card 1) Average 6-yards per play on 1st down: 6.21 (pass) 2) Convert at least 40 pct of 3rd downs: 38.5 % pct (fail) 3) Average at least 4.5 yards per rush: 5.87 YPC (pass) 4) Score on 1/3 of your offensive possessions: 28.6% (fail) 5) Keep "3 and out" series under 33%: 35.7% (fail) 6) Average 8.0 yards per pass attempt: 5.47 (fail) 7) Score above 75% in red zone: 80.0% (pass) 8) TD Red Zone above 60%: 60.0% (fail) 9) Average 30-yards per possession: 28.8 YPP (fail) 10) 40% of offensive snaps being part of a scoring drive: 47.7% (pass) 11) TD / Turnover ratio above 1.6: 3 TD’s / 2 turnovers (fail) 12) TD ratio of 1 every 17 plays: 21.7 (fail) 13) 8 impact plays: 8 (pass) 14) at least 2 big plays: 1 (fail) 15) Pass rating above 125.0: 110.6 (fail) Score: 5 of 15 (33.3%) FAIL Defensive Report Card 1) Average under 6-yards per play on 1st down: 4.64 (pass) 2) Convert below 35-pct of 3rd downs: 26.3% (pass) 3) Average below 4.0 yards per rush: 3.18 YPC (pass) 4) Score below 1/3 of their possessions: 35.7% (fail) 5) Keep "3 and out" series above 33%: 28.6% (fail) 6) Average below 7.5 yards per pass attempt: 6.80 YPA (pass) 7) Score below 75% in red zone: 75.0% (fail) 8) TD Red Zone Pct below 60%: 25.0% (pass) 9) Average under 30-yards per possession: 33.1 YPP (fail) 10) Less than 40% of offensive snaps being part of a scoring drive: 37.1% (pass) 11) TD / Turnover ratio below 1.6: 2 TD’s / 2 turnover (pass) 12) TD ratio of 1 every 30 plays: 44.5 (pass) 13) Less than 8 impact plays allowed: 9 (fail) 14) No more than 1 big play allowed: 4 allowed (fail) 15) Pass rating below 125.0 allowed: 114.3 (pass) Score: 10 of 15 (66.7%) PASS Bonus point awarded for pick-6 and 6 QB sacks Special Teams Report Card: 1) Punt Average (Above 41.3): 41.4 (pass) 2) Punt Return Defense (Below 7.8 YPR): 5.0 (pass) 3) Punt Return Offense (Above 9.8 YPR): 0.0 (fail) 4) Kick-Return Defense (Below 21.2 YPR): 22.5 (fail) 5) Kick-Return Offense (Above 22.3 YPR): 26.5 (pass) 6) PAT’s (100%): 3 of 3 (Pass) 7) FG Pct (75% or above): 1 of 2 (fail) Score: 4 of 7 (57.1%) PASS Remember the key is to pass 50.0% of the categories. War Eagle!
  20. Although the Ole Miss offense garnered plenty of attention last season under Hugh Freeze, the Rebel defense also improved. The Rebels improved in total and scoring defense but their biggest and most shocking improvement came in forcing "negative plays". During the 2012 season, 8 teams from the SEC finished in the nation's top-25 of forcing plays for loss and turnovers. Of those 8 teams, Ole Miss had the No.1 defense in forcing negative plays with a national ranking of No. 4. The Rebels were No. 94 the season before. They are still a far cry from being a dominant defense but forcing negative plays is a huge factor to go along with an explosive offense. This is the kind of improvement Auburn needs in 2013 to go along with Malzahn's offense. Last season, Auburn was No. 88 nationally in forcing negative plays on defense. Here is Ellis Johnson's recent national rankings as a DC in terms of forcing plays for loss and turnovers: 2011 USC: 12th 2010 USC: 18th 2009 USC: 50th 2008 USC: 42nd 2007 MSU: 20th 2006 MSU: 15th 2005 MSU: 29th Not bad for two programs not commonly renowned for great defense. Auburn's national rankings: 2012: 88th 2011: 70th 2010: 33rd 2009: 72nd 2008: 46th 2007: 61st 2006: 34th 2005: 34th
  21. * Of the 120 teams at the FBS level, 49.4 percent of the passes attempted during a game occurred when trailing on the scoreboard during 2012. * The Auburn pass-offense finished No. 107 nationally with 71.6 percent of their pass attempts occurring when trailing on the scoreboard, No. 13 in the conference. * The combined win percentage of the nation's top-25 teams that threw the ball the least, when trailing was .802. Six teams from the SEC, finished in the nation's top-25. This included Texas A&M, Alabama, LSU, Georgia, Ole Miss and South Carolina. Those 6 SEC teams combined for a record of 64-16. * During the 2012 season, 16 teams attempted more than 70 percent of their passes, when trailing on the scoreboard. The combined record for those 16 teams was 38-154. * Of the 38 teams that attempted more than 60 percent of their passes, when trailing, only 4 finished the season with a winning record. Last year was not a good year for Auburn to start 2 young quarterbacks. They were both forced to constantly play "uphill".
  22. There is something everyone needs to realize... Gus and Hugh Freeze are good friends, have similar philosophies, and share many other characteristics. Going forward, I expect auburn and ole miss to battle over several recruits since both coaches will evaluate players similarly many times. It will be something many will need to embrace. We will not clash with bama, lsu or uga as often now, especially with offensive recruiting. I think we can have great success.
  23. After carrying the football only 15 times combined from the LSU and Arkansas games, Tre Mason had 18 carries against Ole Miss during Auburn's 20-41 loss last Saturday. One of the primary concerns in featuring one running back is his ability to pass-protect and to be a reliable receiver out of the backfield. Tre Mason has only 2 receptions on the season but they have gone for 34 and 22-yards. Though his pass-protection has been questionable at times this season, it is an area he is improving on, which was displayed on the following play. The play... On this play Auburn faces a 3rd & 5 from their own 30-yard line. Auburn comes out in a tight formation with "trips" to the left and a TE on the opposite side. Scot Loeffler has a pass play called, which will place Emory Blake 1 on 1 with a safety playing over the top. Quan Bray and Jaylon Denson will run clearing routes outside and inside to create space for Blake running a square-in route between the other 2 WR's. The key to the play is the block by Tre Mason, who picks up the DT that beat John Sullen with a swim move over top. If Mason doesn't pick up the DT, he likely sacks or at least makes contact with Clint Moseley as he is attempting his pass to Emory Blake. Because Mason picked up the DT, Clint Moseley is able to step into his throw, completing his pass to Blake, who picks up 16-yards and an Auburn first down.
  24. Scot Loeffler made it a point to utilize Jay Prosch more frequently against Ole Miss, which will likely carry over to this Saturday against Vanderbilt. Jay Prosch helped polish off Auburn's best offensive possession this season, when the Tigers marched 74-yards in 13 plays, scoring on a Tre Mason 1-yard run. The longest play during the possession was 14-yards and the drive included 10 runs and only 3 passes. Flat pass to Jay Prosch... On this play Auburn faces a 2nd & goal from the Ole Miss 9-yard line. Auburn comes out in an I-formation and 3 TE's. At the snap, Clint Moseley play-actions with Tre Mason as Jay Prosch releases out of the backfield and into the flat. Blake Burgess is lined up on the left side of the line as a TE and he clears the flat with a vertical route into the end zone. Moseley completes his pass to Prosch, who rumbles to the 1-yard line. Follow up TD run... The pass play to Jay Prosch set up the following play from the same formation. Facing a 3rd & goal from the 1-yard line, Auburn will run Tre Mason from the I-formation. Blake Burgess, Greg Robinson and Jay Prosch are key to the play as the collapse the left side, sealing the edge for Tre Mason who strolls in to the end zone for the score.
  25. In an attempt to help establish the running game, Auburn utilized more of the wildcat package, which aided on 2 of Auburn's 4 scoring drives against Ole Miss. If this portion of the offense is to remain effective, Scot Loeffler will need to expand Jonathan Wallace's role in the offense. The give... On this particular wildcat set, Jonathan Wallace will give the ball to Onterio McCalebb with John Sullen pulling from left to right. The DE and LB both play the inside keep, which opens up the outside running lane for McCalebb. The key is the few seconds Wallace rides McCalebb before handing off the ball in an attempt to make the defense commit first. DeAngelo Benton manages to sustain his block long enough for McCalebb to hit the sideline for a 14-yard gain and an Auburn first down. The Keep... On this occasion Auburn runs the wildcat to their left with Chad Slade pulling right to left. Wallace rides McCalebb down the line until the DE and LB commit to the outside. Wallace keeps the ball and darts up field for an 11-yard gain and an Auburn first down. He came very close to breaking this play for additional yardage but was tripped up as he entered into the secondary. Should Clint Moseley start against Vanderbilt, expect the wildcat package to be utilized frequently against the Commodores. The Vanderbilt defense is allowing over 200-yards rushing per game, which could be a major plus for the Auburn run-offense this Saturday.