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  1. One of the many things I like about Gus Malzahn's offense is how he utilizes certain players as "role" players in his offense. Players like Onterio McCalebb, Corey Grant, Mario Fannin and Eric Smith would not have made a significant impact in more traditional styled offenses but Malzahn utilized their athletic abilities to provide an offensive role. Mario Fannin is an exception to the rule but when he was not the every down back under Malzahn, Gus still found a way of obtaining a productive role for him. Onterio McCalebb would have likely seen a limited role on offense under Tommy Tuberville and Corey Grant would have certainly collected dust on the Alabama bench under Nick Saban. Here are some interesting numbers compiled by the above mentioned backs along with Ricardo Louis and Terrell Zachery who were utilized in Malzahn's running game. During the 4 seasons under Gus Malzahn these 6 players combined for.... 3934-yards rushing 2757-yards receiving 6691-yards in total offense or 126.2 yards per game. During 53 games, the above 6 players accounted for 20.9% of the offensive snaps, 28.4% of the total yardage and 23.4% of the TD's scored on offense. They combined for 278 first downs, 51 TD's and 131 plays of 15-yards or more. When you consider an impact play is worth 3.7 points, these 6 players accounted for 485 points or 9.1 points per game. Of their 757 touches on offense, they averaged a first down every 2.7 plays and an impact play every 5.8 touches. They averaged 8.8 yards per touch, scoring a TD every 14.8 plays. The above numbers don't include the contributions made by players like Kodi Burns, Kiehl Frazier and others who have taken snaps as the wildcat QB. Though they will likely have a combined 10-15 touches against Florida State, Corey Grant and Ricardo Louis could play a major role in an Auburn victory.
  2. Corey Grant has done a splendid job replacing Onterio McCalebb in the role of Auburn's speed-perimeter RB. Through 7 games Grant has put up a better average per carry than any of the 4 seasons McCalebb compiled from 2009-2012. Grant has also recorded more impact plays through 7 games than McCalebb did through 7 games into any season. Despite having only 38 carries through 7 games, 15 of them have resulted in a first down or TD and 13 have been for at least 10-yards. On this play Auburn faces a 2nd & 10 from their own 35. The Tigers come out with Nick Marshall under center and Auburn in a 2-WR set (Ace-Formation). The Aggie defense has 8 in the box with 3 DB's on the perimeter responsible for the 2 WR's split out to the wide-side of the field. After a quick snap, Nick Marshall pitches out to Corey Grant, who sweeps to the edge with Jay Prosch as a lead blocker. The play is designed to get Grant into open space and a 4 on 3 matchup in favor of the Tigers on the perimeter. Grant makes a hard cut inside of the OLB and speeds down field for a 32-yard gain. The play set up Auburn's first touchdown drive of the game during the first quarter.
  3. If Auburn is to pull the upset on No. 6 LSU in Baton Rouge, the Auburn OL will have to play well. It will be a physical contest and the team with the better running game normally comes out victorious. Auburn enters the game with an average of 239.3 yards rushing per game but struggled last week running between the tackles. Corey Grant could be a player to watch for against LSU, especially if Gus Malzahn elects to include him in the passing game. On this play Auburn faces a 3rd & goal at the MSU 14-yard line intent to run on the play. Though the play did not convert for a TD, it was a good example of key blocks setting up a positive gain. At the snap Kiehl Frazier can keep and follow Alex Kozan running between the tackles but he elects to give to Corey Grant on the speed sweep. Jay Prosch takes out the OLB and Quan Bray takes out the CB. Note in frame #2 how the 4 remaining OL drive the MSU DL off the ball and away from the point of attack. Again, the Auburn OL will have to play well to keep the Auburn offense balanced against a very fast LSU defense. Onterio McCalebb in a limited role finished his career against LSU with 27 offensive touches for 200-yards and 3 TD's. Corey Grant will likely be limited in touches but utilizing him in space in the passing game could set up some explosive play opportunities against LSU.
  4. During game #2 against Arkansas State, Corey Grant was not involved as much in the offensive game plan despite Auburn running the football a few more times than they did against Washington State. Despite having fewer opportunities to touch the football, Grant still delivered an impact play during the game. On this play Auburn is faced with a 2nd & 3 from the Red Wolves 17-yard line. The Auburn offense will execute their jet-sweep with Corey Grant to the wide side of the field. At the snap, Brandon Fulse and Jay Prosch are lined up in the backfield and they will lead the charge to the right to create a running lane for Grant. Alex Kozan (LG) will also pull to his right to give Auburn a "numbers" advantage on the edge. The DE aligned on Auburn's right is left unblocked intentionally because Grant's motion before the snap and subsequent speed should offset the DE making penetration. The DE becomes 1 less defender to account for as the blocking schemes are set up to engage the second level of the defense. Grant bursts past the DE and makes a quick cut up field behind a solid wall of blockers. He has a clear running lane to the end zone and a 17-yard TD run. The play gives Grant 5 explosive plays on the season, which currently leads the team. Look for Auburn to set up some pass plays for Grant in the near future just as Malzahn did with Onterio McCalebb.
  5. One of the benefits of having an athletic quarterback (Nick Marshall) is the defense must account for his presence in the running game. Though Auburn primarily operates out of a 2-back and 3-WR set, Malzahn can increase the number of 4-WR sets this season. In most cases, the defense will play with only 6 men in the box and no more than 7 because of the "numbers" game. In this case Auburn has a 1st &10 from their own 25-yard line coming out in a 4-WR look. Washington State counters with 6 in the box and their safeties playing back for coverage. Auburn will execute a zone-read with Nick Marshall reading the OLB. Because of the defensive front, the play was likely a give to Grant from the start. Having two big receivers at the top, Ricardo (215 lbs) and Sammie Coates (201 lbs), the defense must respect their speed in the passing game but Auburn can take advantage of their size to block the edge and open the side line for Corey Grant. Louis holds the edge long enough on the OLB to allow Grant to turn the corner. Sammie Coates will wall off the CB and Grant will beat and out run the safety on that side. Now it's all speed from that point on as Grant goes the distance for a much needed TD. Corey Grant was perhaps the most pleasant surprise of the day on offense as he now gives Auburn a true 4-headed monster in the run-offense. Grant has the speed of Onterio McCalebb but is 30 pounds heavier with a few more football moves.
  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. One quality I always appreciated and admired about Gus Malzahn's offense was his use of his runningbacks in his offense. He fielded two 1000-yard rushers at Arkansas in 2006. During 2007 at Tulsa he had one 1000-yard rusher and a second back with over 1000-yards receiving. In total, he had 2 backs with over 1300-yards in total offense and a third with 545-yards. During 2008 at Tulsa he had a 1000-yard rusher again and a total of 3 backs with over 550-yards in total offense. During 2009 at Auburn he had a 1000-yard rusher and a total of 3 backs with over 600-yards in total offense not to mention the use of Eric Smith as a fullback. During 2010 at Auburn, he had a 1000-yard rusher and a total of 3 RB's with over 500-yards in total offense, not to mention Cam Newton (1400-yard rusher). During 2011 at Auburn, he fielded another 1000-yard rusher, which included 2 backs over 900-yards in total offense. During 2012 at Arkansas State, he fielded yet another 1000-yard rusher along with a second back over 500-yards in total offense and a third with over 300-yards. A player like Onterio McCalebb would have never received the offensive touches he did under Malzahn, had he played during the Tuberville era. Obtaining the most of the RB position is vital, when you consider they handle the football more often than any other position unless you have a player like Cam Newton at quarterback. Ratio of Impact plays at the RB position (1992-2012): (This includes run and pass plays) 2010: 8.5 1995: 8.6 2009: 9.1 1993: 9.5 2011: 11.2 2006: 11.4 1994: 11.4 2004: 11.7 2002: 11.9 1996: 12.1 2005: 12.3 2012: 12.9 2003: 12.9 2007: 13.0 2001: 14.6 1997: 14.6 2008: 15.4 2000: 15.9 1998: 17.5 1992: 17.8 1999: 21.4 Average Ratio: 12.2 Note where the RB's under Malzahn rank among the other RB units since 1992. The 2010 Auburn RB's averaged a play of 15-yards or more every 8.5 touches. All 3 of his offenses at Auburn were in the top-5 in terms of RB production and impact plays. In 2009 Gus Malzahn had Ben Tate, Onterio McCalebb, Mario Fannin and Eric Smith to work with. In 2013 he will have Tre Mason, Mike Blakely, Corey Grant, Cameron Artis-Payne and Jay Prosch to work with. There will plenty of potential to field a very good running game and an explosive back field with a mobile quarterback in place.
  9. 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!
  10. During the second half there were a few times Scot Loeffler went no huddle with an up tempo. On Auburn's second possession of the second half, the Tigers went no huddle once they reached midfield. Auburn managed to march 63-yards on 6 plays before Emory Blake was stripped of the football inside the Georgia 10-yard line. Loeffler utilized a base formation of 2-WR's, TE, RB and FB during the drive. Once they went no huddle the offense would come to the line but audible accordingly to the Bulldog secondary. Square-In... On this play Auburn has the ball at their own 43-yard line facing a 1st & 10. Before the snap, note how far the CB is playing off Emory Blake. At the snap, Jonathan Wallace will play-action with Onterio McCalebb and set up in the pocket. He has 2 extra bodies staying in for pass-protection. The slot-WR runs a vertical route to clear space inside for Emory Blake on his deep square-in route. Wallace delivers a low pass but Blake makes a great catch on the play to pick up 24-yards and an Auburn first down. At this point, Auburn will go no huddle and up tempo, moving the ball into the Georgia 10-yard line. Run-option... On this play Auburn is basically in the same formation but the WR's have swapped sides from the previous formation. This time around the Tigers will run on first down with Jonathan Wallace reading the OLB, who initially crashes down to play the QB keep. Wallace rides Onterio McCalebb until the OLB commits and hands of to McCalebb, who turns the corner for a 15-yard gain and Auburn first down. Earlier during this same possession, Wallace kept the ball for a 2-yard gain and the Tigers also attempted a flat pass to McCalebb from a similar formation. The formation allows the Tigers to utilize all of their skill players and with the no huddle added to the equation, puts additional pressure on the defense. Coach Loeffler stated this week, the Tigers are adding more to the offense and Jonathan Wallace. Hopefully we will see more no huddle when the opportunity arises to give the Tiger offense an additional competitive edge.
  11. One of the most notable improvements in the Auburn pass-offense since Jonathan Wallace has become the starter is his willingness to target receivers down field first. With Kiehl Frazier at quarterback, he averaged a pass play of 15-yards or more every 5.7 pass attempts. Clint Moseley's ratio dropped Auburn to 1 every 7.5 attempts. Jonathan Wallace currently has a ratio of 1 every 3.0 attempts. Since 1992 Auburn has averaged a pass play of 15-yards or more every 5.5 attempts. The best ratio from 1992-2012 was 1 every 4.2 attempts during the 2010 season. The play... On this play Auburn faces a 2nd & 8 from their own 34-yard line. They come out in a 2-WR set in an Ace-formation, which normally means "run". Just before the snap, Ricardo Louis motions over the backfield, posing a threat to run the ball on the end-around play. At the snap, Jonathan Wallace will play-action with Onterio McCalebb followed by a play-action with Louis on the "orbit" motion. After faking to Louis, Jonathan Wallace rolls out to his right. He will have only two pass-options with Onterio McCalebb in the flat and Emory Blake running a deep crossing route. Brandon Fulse (TE) will run a vertical route off the line, clearing space for Blake crossing over behind the TE route. Wallace delivers his pass to Blake, who picks up 24-yards and an Auburn first down. Though he only attempted 22 passes against Georgia, 6 of them resulted in plays of 15-yards or more or 1 every 3.7 attempts.
  12. One play Auburn struggled with earlier in the season was the RB screen, which Auburn failed to complete. Against Georgia, the RB's were utilized more than normal in the passing game, including a screen-pass to Onterio McCalebb, which netted 34-yards. Screen passes are a great way of neutralizing an aggressive pass-rush and Auburn was able to burn the Georgia defense with the second quarter pass to McCalebb. Onterio McCalebb has proven to be a dangerous player in space, especially in the passing game. The play... On this play Auburn faces a 2nd & 10 from their own 25-yard line. Before the snap, Brandon Fulse will shift from being adjacent to the LT to being adjacent to the right tackle. After he shifts, Emory Blake motions from a slot position on the left to a slot position to the wide side of the field. At the snap, Jonathan Wallace will focus on Fulse and Blake as Onterio McCalebb sells the pass-protection look. Onterio McCalebb then releases from the backfield as Wallace completes the screen-pass to McCalebb. Because the Georgia defense had to shift to counter the "trips" to the wide-side, McCalebb had open space on the boundary side. The play results in a 34-yard gain that came close to going all the way but a Georgia safety managed to take out McCalebb's feet from behind.
  13. 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!
  14. It's unfortunate Onterio McCalebb and Tre Mason have been forced to play behind such a young and inexperienced line. Even with all the offensive issues and woes the Auburn offense has gone through this season, Auburn's tandem of running backs have combined for 5.77 yards per rush. The problem is that it has come on only 22.3 combined carries per game this season. Against New Mexico State both backs eclipsed the 100-yard mark, including runs of 35-yards plus by both backs, something that has not been accomplished since the UTC game in 2010. Onterio McCalebb... On this play Auburn faces a 3rd & 2 from the Aggie 38-yard line. Auburn will run their stretch play from an I-Formation with Onterio McCalebb as the RB. At the snap, Patrick Miller and Brandon Fulse double on the DE but Fulse will slide off to pick up the OLB. Patrick Miller will continue to work the DE inside opening up the "C" gap for McCalebb. Onterio McCalebb will follow Jay Prosch through the hole as Prosch tags the ILB, taking him off his feet. McCalebb explodes through the wide open hole and into the secondary with no defenders in sight. McCalebb's quickness through the hole and top-end speed allows him to go untouched to the end zone for a 38-yard touchdown. Tre Mason... Later in the game Tre Mason records his second 35+ yard run of the game. On this run Auburn has the ball at the Aggie 48-yard line, facing a 2nd &7. Once again the Tigers will run their stretch play, this time with Tre Mason at RB. This time around the Tigers run to Patrick Miller's side again but he will engage the ILB, forcing him inside as Brandon Fulse peals the DE outside to create a running lane for Mason. Emory Blake will crack back on the OLB, forcing him inside as Tre Mason follows Jay Prosch, through the "C" gap. Jay Prosch will finish off the OLB for Emory Blake to keep the running lane open and clear for Tre Mason, who darts into the secondary. Mason picks up 41-yards on the run, setting up Auburn's 5th touchdown of the game. Running the football this Saturday against the Georgia Bulldogs will be a major challenge for the Auburn offensive line. Tre Mason and Onterio McCalebb will need their touches to give Auburn a chance to be competitive. Last year the Bulldogs were the more physical and dominant team. It will be interesting to see if Auburn can repeat their performance from this year's LSU game, where they went toe-to-toe with the Bengal-Tigers.
  15. For the first time this season, football was finally fun for the Auburn players recording only their second victory of the season. Their previous victory against ULM went down to the wire after the Tigers blew a 28-14 third quarter lead. After a slow start against New Mexico State, Scot Loeffler went back to what Auburn has done best this season, running the football. The Tigers finished the game with a season high, 311-yards rushing on only 45 carries. Tre Mason and Onterio McCalebb both racked up over 100-yards rushing as Auburn became the more physical team as the game progressed. Garnering the first start of his career, Jonathan Wallace got off to a meager start but mainly because of the play-calling forcing Wallace to do more than what should have been expected. Once Auburn settled into their running game, Wallace looked far more comfortable and played much better. After starting off 2 of 7 in passing, Wallace completed 7 of his last 9 pass attempts. Though he is a true freshman, Wallace has shown he will look down field before checking down to his shorter routes. He attempted 5 deep balls during the game, 1 less than the 6 Clint Moseley attempted in the 4 games he appeared in this season. It has been a tough year for Auburn's senior class but they were able to enjoy a strong Homecoming finish today. Daren Bates school record 62-yard fumble-return for a touchdown was perhaps the highlight of the game. The stiff-arm he utilized to finish off the return will certainly be an ESPN highlight. Trovon Reed's only reception of the game resulted in a 40-yard touchdown, his first of the season. It was a terrific moment because Reed had worn the jersey number of former Auburn player, LaDarious Phillips, who was tragically murdered earlier this year. No matter what happens to Auburn's coaching staff, today's game was a great performance for this squad. For the first time this season, they had a lead at halftime and were able to finish strong. Though they were expected to win and New Mexico State was not a major threat to upset the Tigers, Auburn managed to play their best game of the season in terms of a "team" effort. It wasn't perfect and the opponent wasn't anything to write home about but for a team that entered the game with a 1-7 record, it was a much needed victory. Inside the Numbers... Over the past 25 years Auburn has faced 65 opponents from a non-BCS conference, posting a record of 63-2. The average score in those games has been 39-13. Auburn averaged 446-yards per game, while allowing 279-yards to the opponent. Auburn defeated New Mexico State, 42-7 while gaining 465-yards and allowing 305. The average QB Rating vs. Non-BCS opponents over the past 25 seasons was 155.6 with an average of 202-yards passing per game. Jonathan Wallace finished the game with a pass-rating of 150.5 and 164-yards passing. He finished with the 35th best passing performance in Auburn's last 65 games against a non-BCS opponent. During the first 4 offensive possessions, Loeffler's play calling was questionable with 8 pass plays and only 5 rush attempts. During that span, Wallace had a pass-rating of just 36.0. Once Auburn made a concerted effort to run the football, Wallace finished the game with a pass rating of 239.5. With 152-yards rushing today, Tre Mason needs 98.0 yards per game during the last 3 games to reach 1000-yards. After catching at least 1 pass during a 23-game stretch, Onterio McCalebb has not caught a single pass during the last 2 games. Jonathan Wallace targeted 7 different receivers against New Mexico State. For the first time this season, Auburn won the turnover and tackle for loss battles during the same game. For the first time this season Auburn's DL had more tackles than the LB's. The DL accounted for a season high, 32.8 percent of the tackles and the previous high was 22.7 percent against LSU. For the 5th time this season Demetruce McNeal led the defense in tackles. Eight different Auburn players registered a tackle for loss as Auburn had 9 tackles for loss, while allowing only 2. Auburn ended their 10-game drought without an offensive TD in the 4th period by scoring 2 against the Aggies. The last time Auburn began a game with 3 consecutive scoreless quarters on defense was against Mississippi State in 2008. For the season, 57.7 percent of the pass attempts made by Jonathan Wallace have been at least 11-yards down field. Kiehl Frazier is hitting at 47.0 percent and Clint Moseley was rock bottom at 26.1 percent. Through 9 games, Jonathan Wallace has made an impact play in the passing game every 2.6 pass attempts. Kiehl Frazier has hit one every 5.7 attempts and Clint Moseley is currently 1 every 7.5 attempts. Auburn had gone 30 consecutive games without scoring at least 30 points and holding their opponent under 10 points during the same game. Final Word... Despite the lopsided victory against New Mexico State, Auburn did not play very well during the first half. This is a strong reminder Auburn has too many obstacles to overcome to be a serious threat to upset the visiting Georgia Bulldogs next Saturday. Georgia should be focused when they enter Jordan-Hare, needing a victory to secure their berth into the Southeastern Conference Championship. Auburn continued to make the small errors that will beat a good team much less a team that has failed to record a conference victory this season. Georgia will be a heavy favorite to win next Saturday but the game still has to be won on the field. The Bulldogs will likely bring plenty of heat on Jonathan Wallace so it will be important for the Tigers to establish a consistent running game. Hopefully the Auburn coaching staff will let it all hang out with nothing to lose, giving the players an opportunity to pull a monumental upset. Despite how you might feel about the coaching staff and athletic department, the players deserve our respect and support. They will walk into next Saturday likely being the only folks who believe they can win. Hopefully there will be a strong turn out by the Auburn faithful to help will the team to victory. Auburn's 2-7 record through 9 games will certainly result in coaching changes but the major youth movement afoot is the future of the football program. Twenty-one red shirt and true freshman have started this season, making them the foundation for Auburn's turn around in the near future. For various reasons this season was not meant to be for the Auburn Tigers but teams transform from year to year. Auburn has some exciting talent playing as freshman this season, which should make for some electrifying moments and games down the road. They only need the right guidance, support and motivation to become a good team delivered from exceptional individual talent. War Eagle!
  16. With the loss of Philip Lutzenkirchen, Auburn has become more reliant upon CJ Uzomah and Brandon Fulse. At 6-4, 250 CJ Uzomah has become the primary target at the TE position, when it comes to the pass-offense. Auburn quarterbacks have thrown to him 7 times in the last 2 games and Uzomah has caught 5 for 113-yards, including his first touchdown reception as an Auburn Tiger. The TD reception... On this play Auburn has the ball at the TAMU 27-yard line facing a 2nd & 7. Before the snap Onterio McCalebb who is lined up wide right like a receiver will motion back into the backfield on a "speed sweep" look. The Aggie defense has 8 defenders in the box with Tre Mason in the backfield too and Jonathan Wallace in at quarterback. CJ Uzomah is initially positioned in the backfield just behind the LT as an H-back. At the snap Chad Slade will pull left as Wallace play-actions with McCalebb coming on the speed sweep. This movement forces the Aggie defense to shift to their right to defend what appears to be a run play. While the defense shifts right, CJ Uzomah sneaks out of the backfield to his right, releasing into the flat uncovered. Jonathan Wallace rolls to his right with a DE coming at him off the backside of the play. Emory Blake, who was lined up on the boundary side, will run a vertical route to clear the right flat and sideline for Uzomah. Wallace delivers the pass over the DE to Uzomah in stride and the TE rumbles down the side line for a 27-yard TD play.
  17. In what was perhaps one of the worst games in school history, freshman quarterback Jonathan Wallace brought a ray of sunshine during the game as he saw his most significant action this season against Texas A&M. Scot Loeffler was finally allowed to cut the freshman loose and he responded with explosive play. Wallace finished the game with 122-yards passing on just 9 pass attempts for 2 TD's. He added an additional 70-yards rushing on 13 carries playing basically one half of football. The run... We had already seen what Jonathan Wallace brought to the game, operating within the wildcat package. On this play Auburn will run their zone-read play with Jonathan Wallace and Onterio McCalebb in the backfield. At the snap, Chad Slade (RG) and Jay Prosch pull right to left as Wallace reads the movement of the LB's. If the LB's play the inside run with the QB, Wallace will hand off to McCalebb, who will sweep left. On this occasion, the LB's play the give to McCalebb (sweep) so Wallace tucks the ball and runs inside of Jay Prosch. Chad Slade seals the edge by crushing the DE into the line and Prosch kicks out the ILB, giving Wallace an inside running lane for a 10-yard gain. Play-action pass... On this play, Auburn faces a 1st & 10 from the Aggie 27-yard line. Auburn shows a similar formation from the previous run and the Aggies counter with 8 men in the box to counter Auburn's run look. At the snap, Jonathan Wallace will play-action with Onterio McCalebb as Emory Blake and Travante Stallworth break into their routes. Emory Blake is lined up in the slot and will run a go-route, overlapping Stallworth's post route. As Stallworth breaks into his vertical post-route, Emory Blake loops over his back to the sideline. Jonathan Wallace later stated Blake was his second read on the play. The key was the safety over the top (not in view) and which receiver he will key on. He elects to double up on Stallworth, which leaves Emory Blake 1 on 1 with the remaining safety. Jonathan Wallace delivers a nice arching pass Blake was able to run underneath for the 27-yard touchdown.
  18. With the losses of Avery Young and Philip Lutzenkirchen, Auburn will need Patrick Miller and CJ Uzomah to step up to fill the voids left behind. Though Miller and Uzomah still have some physical growing up to do, their work ethic cannot be questioned. Auburn's biggest gain against Vanderbilt involved the great play of both players. The play... On this play Auburn faces a 2nd & 4 from their own 26-yard line. Auburn will run off tackle from an Ace Formation with CJ Uzomah and Patrick Miller opening up a gaping hole for Tre Mason to dart through. Bringing Onterio McCalebb in motion over the top of the formation and Jay Prosch blocking the backside, freezes the LB's, allowing Tre Mason to pop into the secondary. On the play Tre Mason has one man to beat once through the "C" gap and he is able to cut inside and through the safety dropping down in run support. He then races laterally across the field towards the sideline, where he extends the play for a 34-yard gain. In frame #3, you can see Uzomah taking out the OLB and Patrick Miller crushing the DE. Both players are still trying to find that level of consistency in their game but they have shown loads of potential in terms of their effort to improve as individual players. Different angle... This view reveals how the Vandy MLB (#36) is initially in position to play the "C" gap but he takes himself out of position because of McCalebb and Prosch moving in the opposite direction. This is why I believe it is important to have more plays designed with both RB's on the field. The play also reveals how physical Tre Mason can play despite being 5-9, 195. He's always quick to the hole and he has great vision to transition into the secondary once he has an opening to work with.
  19. If Auburn is going to have offensive success against Vanderbilt it will primarily come from the running game. Vanderbilt has been very solid against the pass but have been gashed by opposing run-offenses. The Tigers must remain committed to their running game, something they strayed away from during the second half of the Ole Miss game. During the first half of the Ole Miss game, Auburn ran the ball 81 percent of the time on first down, scoring 17 points. During the second half, Auburn ran the ball 62 percent of the time on first down before Ole Miss extended their lead to 34-20. Auburn scored only 3 points during the second half. Onterio McCalebb... Onterio McCalebb has had more success than not running from the I-formation. The majority of his negative plays have come, when Auburn sends McCalebb to the edge on perimeter plays. When he has lined up in the I-formation, McCalebb has run the stretch-play, sweep and toss-sweep. On this play, Auburn lines up in an I-formation but after a safety cheats up to come off the edge, Auburn shifts Philip Lutzenkirchen from right to left and Jay Prosch moves out of the I to set Auburn up in an Ace formation. At the snap, Prosch picks up the safety off the edge and Emory Blake drives the CB outside to give McCalebb an inside running lane. McCalebb gained 8-yards on a first down play. Tre Mason & Onterio McCalebb... More sets with both backs on the field at the same time, forces the defense to focus on both backs rather than one. With Clint Moseley starting for the second week, it increases the need to have an extra set of feet on the field to keep the running game alive. The above play is a prime example of the defense having to defend both running options. The Tigers have found previous success with the end-around play with McCalebb, so the defense has to freeze for a split second to defend both run options. On this play, Tre Mason takes the inside hand off, cutting back away from the "B" gap to a running lane behind the over pursuing Ole Miss defense. The play also was keyed by a Jay Prosch block on the backside against the opposing DE. Tre Mason once again needs to be the focus of the running game but Mike Blakely needs to be involved this week to keep Mason fresh.
  20. 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.
  21. * Through the first half of the season, Auburn's opponent has converted 42.2% of their 3rd downs during the first half and 29.5% during the second half. * Auburn's offense has converted only 19.0% of their 3rd downs during the 4th quarter, which explains why they have been outscored 62-3 during the same period this season. * 52.3% of the Rebel's offensive snaps resulted in a 5-yard gain or better, the highest percentage allowed through 6 games. * Auburn's defense has allowed over 200-yards in offense during the second half in 4 of 6 games. * 53.0% of Auburn's first down plays on offense have gone for 3-yards or less. * Auburn's defense allowed 29 plays of 15-yards or more during their first 4 games of the season and 19 during their last 2 games. * Over the past 20 seasons, Auburn has scored a TD on 22 percent of their possessions beginning on their side of the field. This season the Auburn offense has scored on 7 percent. * All 3 of Clint Moseley's interceptions this season have come on first down. * Onterio McCalebb has now caught a pass in 22 consecutive games. * Auburn's 3rd possession of the Ole Miss game that included 13 plays for 74-yards and a TD was the best possession of the season. Auburn had 6 first downs during the possession alone with 4 being the previous high this season. * 24.5 percent of Onterio McCalebb's rush attempts have gone for a loss, which increases to 38.2 percent in conference play. * Ole Miss had 27 rush attempts during the second half, the most allowed by the Auburn defense this season. The Rebels rushed for 76-yards during the first half and 124 during the second half. * Looking at the play breakdown of Auburn's scoring drives this season, 65.8 percent have been run plays. * During the first 4 games of the season, the DL accounted for 22 percent of the team's tackles. For the second straight week, Auburn's DL fell under 20 percent including Corey Lemonier, who failed to register a tackle. * Auburn has now surrendered 59 points off of their turnovers, while scoring only 13 from the opponent's miscues. * It might not be on the level of Fred Talley but Jeff Scott of Ole Miss has rushed for 351-yards on 44 carries during 3 games. That's a very healthy 7.95 yards per pop. He has an additional 5 receptions for 96-yards. * The Ole Miss game marked the 11th time Daren Bates has led the team in tackles from 2009-2012, more than any other player during the same time period. * Through 6 games, 71.3 percent of Auburn's offensive snaps have failed to be part of a scoring drive, the 3rd worst percentage by an Auburn offense over the past 25 seasons. On the flipside, the Auburn defense has held their opponent to a "waste" percentage of 57.3 percent, higher than the 3 previous Auburn defenses before Brian VanGorder took over as defensive coordinator. * Auburn gained 212-yards on 59 plays against the Rebel defense. If you just took the 15-yard plays Auburn's offense had against Ole Miss from 2009, 2010 and 2011, it would combine for 27 plays for 737-yards. War Eagle!
  22. Sticking with the theme of a renewed focus on the running game against Ole Miss, having both backs on the field would be an effective option against the Rebels. This has been set up by Onterio McCalebb splitting out as a WR and he caught an out-pass against Arkansas during a 5-WR set. Having both backs on the field at the same time and both in the backfield just before the snap forces the opposing defense to cover every run possibility. The play... On this play Auburn has Onterio McCalebb lined up as a WR just before the snap. Auburn has the ball at their own 23-yard line with a 1st &10. Just before the snap, McCalebb motions towards the backfield, which transitions into an "orbit" motion over the top of the backfield. At the snap, Philip Lutzenkirchen will pull from right to left as Kiehl Frazier fakes the inside hand off to Tre Mason. Onterio McCalebb motions over the top of the backfield, where Frazier hands off to McCalebb on the end-around play. The inside fake to Mason freezes the LB's as Lutzenkirchen kicks out the OLB. McCalebb is quick to the edge cutting up field inside of Lutzenkirchen for an 11-yard gain and an Auburn first down. Backfield view... This view shows how the inside fake to Mason freezes the pursuit of the defense (key to the success of the play). When McCalebb is on the field as the only back defenses can focus their complete attention on him, which takes his quickness and speed advantage away. When the defense is forced to focus on another moving element within the formation other than McCalebb, the advantage is in favor of McCalebb and the Auburn offense. The speed-sweeps for the most part have been taken away unless, Mason or Blakely is on the field at the same time, becoming an inside option in the running game.
  23. Through 4 games into the 2012 season the Auburn offense is still searching for their identity on offense. The pass-offense is still attempting to become more consistent and the coaches have been incorporating a steady mixture of different players at the skill positions. The running game has primarily come from Onterio McCalebb and Tre Mason with Mike Blakely sprinkled in the lineup. Tre Mason currently leads the team with 275-yards rushing on 53 attempts. IMO, Tre Mason has performed well enough to garner more carries during the game. Until the pass-offense becomes more consistent Mason could easily be the player Auburn leans upon for some facet of identity on offense. The play... On this play, Tre Mason's quickness and vision are on display. The Auburn offense will execute their zone-read counter play with Tre Mason at running back. The play is designed to appear that Mason will run right at the point of the hand off. At the snap, Chad Slade pulls to his left followed by Philip Lutzenkirchen. *Note on Chad Slade. Auburn has only run this play a few times but I noticed that Chad Slade lines up about a foot off the line than he normally does, which could tip off the defense he is about to pull to his left. After receiving the hand off, Mason takes 1 step to the right and then cuts back to run left behind the pulling personnel. Chad Slade crushes the DE, leaving Mason 1 on 1 with the crashing OLB. Rather than attempting to sprint outside the OLB, Mason observes a very small cutback lane and takes it. He cuts back inside the shoulder of the OLB and darts up field for a 6-yard gain. Play #2... On this play Tre Mason's ability to get north & south very quickly is on display. Auburn will run a safe stretch play facing 3rd & 14. The opening through the "B" gap is very small but Mason's quickness to the hole allows him to exploit the small operating space. The DT on that side nearly collapses the hole but Mason manages to explode through and into the secondary. The MLB manages to shed his block with a good angle on Mason but his quick feet and vision allows Mason to cut to his right to avoid the second tackle. He makes one final cut to reach the first down mark but is brought down after a 13-yard gain. Against Clemson and ULM, Mason had his most carries of the season. He gained 106-yards on 14 carries against Clemson and 90-yards on 22 carries against ULM. During Auburn's 2 conference games, Mason was limited to 8 carries against MSU and 9 against LSU. Onterio McCalebb had a total of 19 carries in conference play for 28-yards, while Mason had 17 for 79-yards. Mike Blakely had 11 carries for 42-yards against MSU. Up to this point, Mason has clearly been the most productive rusher in conference play and hopefully will be a focal point of the run-offense against Arkansas this Saturday.
  24. Through 4 games we have witnessed plenty of motion and shifting by the Auburn offense but not enough yards and points. The immediate assumption is there is something severely lacking in "play calling" but I believe it is more a lack of execution than it is play calling. I support this opinion based on the fact 68% of Auburn's offensive possessions have produced at least 1 first down, better than the 2009 and 2011 Auburn offense. The 2012 Auburn offense also has a "3 & out" percentage of 25 percent, 6th best among Auburn offenses over the past 20 years. Offensive production took a nose dive against LSU but that was expected because of the caliber of the LSU defense and Auburn's offensive issues, especially in the passing game. Lost in the dismay of the overall production of the offense was the misdirection plays Scot Loeffler called against LSU in an attempt to generate offense against a superior defense. The play... On this play Auburn faces a 2nd & 14 from the LSU 29-yard line. Auburn comes out in what appears to be a 3-WR bunch set but Onterio McCalebb (lined up as WR) will motion back into the backfield before the snap. As McCalebb begins his motion, the LSU defense is now focused on the speedster, who appears to be setting up the speed-sweep. Just as McCalebb arrives in the backfield, the ball is snapped and Kiehl Frazier spins around to fake the speed-sweep to McCalebb, which freezes the defense. Philip Lutzenkirchen will crash down on the DE and Jaylon Denson will crash down on the OLB. Greg Robinson will drop out to pull to his left as Frazier makes a quick pitch to Tre Mason. The play initially appears to be going right with McCalebb but it's a misdirection toss play to Mason going left. Mason follows behind Greg Robinson, who blows out the CB on the left allowing Mason to dart down the sideline for a 26-yard gain. The play set up Auburn's only offensive TD of the game. If you haven't seen the play closely, go back and watch it. The possession starts with 1:02 remaining in the first period. Jaylon Denson does a perfect job taking out the OLB and staying with him (very physical). LSU's corner makes no attempt get around Greg Robinson, throwing his hands out to embrace for the "train" headed his way. J.C. Copeland would have been proud.
  25. Another play Auburn attempted to burn the aggressive LSU defense with was the counter play from the zone-read look. Auburn executed the play with Jonathan Wallace in at quarterback. The play was successful with Onterio McCalebb and Tre Mason carrying the football. The play... On this play Auburn faces a 2nd & 7 from their own 34-yard line. At the snap, Jonathan Wallace hands off to Onterio McCalebb, who takes a step to his right, cutting back to the left. Chad Slade and Brandon Fulse pull from right to left to help open up a running lane for McCalebb. The play results in a 23-yard gain but came one foot from possibly going 66-yards for a touchdown. Same play different formation and back... After the 23-yard gain by McCalebb, Auburn executes the same play but from a different formation and personnel look. The counter play with McCalebb was executed with a 2-TE set and 2-WR's. The counter play with Tre Mason is from a 3-WR set. Before the snap, Mason is lined up in the pistol formation before shifting to the left of Jonathan Wallace. Just as McCalebb did, Mason takes the hand off, stepping to his right and then cutting back to his left. The edge is not clear for Mason so he cuts the play back inside, picking up 8-yards on 1st down. Chad Slade pulls along with Philip Lutzenkirchen.
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