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  1. Depending on pending injuries or weather, I would expect the Auburn offense to play well against Wisconsin. Gus Malzahn has coached in 10 combined Bowl games and Conference Championships at the collegiate level. During those 10 games, his offense averaged 498.6 YPG and 39.9 PPG. His teams went 7-3 during those 10 outings. This includes 6 games at Auburn, where his offense averaged 518.8 YPG and 41.5 PPG. This includes a 5-1 mark at Auburn. Auburn will check in with Nick Marshall at QB, CAP at RB, along with Sammie Coates, Duke Williams and Quan Bray at WR. All five players will likely be playing their last game as an Auburn Tiger, motivated to put on a show one last time, wearing the orange and blue. This doesn't include the services of Chad Slade, Reese Dismukes, CJ Uzomah, Brandon Fulse and Corey Grant, who will also want to go out with a bang. During the last 26 games, the Auburn offense has averaged 496-yards and 38 PPG, along with 296-yards rushing per game. This also includes 80 offensive plays of 30+ yards and 253 plays of 15+ yards.
  2. Post Season Numbers & Thoughts: During the first 7 games of the season the Auburn defense allowed 5.88 yards per play during the first-half and 4.21 yards per play during the second-half. During the final 6 games of the season, the Auburn defense allowed 5.97 yards per play during the first-half and 6.76 yards per play during the second-half. During the first 7 games of the season, 49.0% of the snaps defended by the Auburn defense during the first-half, went for 2-yards or less. It increased to 55.6% during the second half of games. During the last 6 games of the season, 43.7% of the snaps defended by the Auburn defense during the first-half, went for 2-yards or less. It decreased to 42.9% during the second half. The top-5 play-makers on offense this season based on impact-plays were: Cameron Artis Payne (26), Duke Williams (22), Nick Marshall (20), Sammie Coates (14) and Quan Bray (12). Injuries to Williams and Coates took away from Auburn's explosiveness this season. During the first 6 games of the season, Nick Marshall averaged 82.0 yards rushing per game on 6.6 yards per attempt. During the final 7 games of the season, Marshall averaged only 43.7 yards per rush on 3.9 yards per carry. The read-option was nowhere close to last season. During the final 7 games of the 2013 season, Marshall & Mason averaged 257.6 YPG on 6.09 YPC. During the final 7 games of 2014, Marshall & CAP combined for 179.3 YPG on 4.92 YPC. Ricardo Louis is a player to watch for in 2015. With the departure of Sammie Coates, Auburn will need him to become a consistent playmaker. During the first 6 games of the season, Louis had 15 offensive touches for 118-yards. During the final 7 games of the season, Louis had 22 offensive touches for 353-yards. Of his 9 impact plays on the season, 7 came during the second-half of the season. Duke Williams was No. 12 nationally in generating pass-receptions of 15-yards or more and Sammie Coates was No. 21. The Auburn offense simply wasn't the same without both healthy and on the field together. During Auburn's 8 victories this season, the Tigers compiled a pass-rating of 157.1 on first-down and only 117.2 during their 5 defeats. From 1992-2014 Auburn has compiled a pass-rating of 136.0 on first-down and was only 134.9 in 2014. Of Auburn's 332 passes on the season, only 96 (28.6%) came on first down, which was dead last nationally. The national average was 37.9%, which means Nick Marshall was forced to throw more often when the opponent wanted him to, rather than when Malzahn wanted him to throw. I expect that percentage to change drastically with Jeremy Johnson at quarterback. In terms of the game day report cards, the Auburn offense had a passing grade in 11 of 13 games, the defense 6 in 13 games and special teams, 7 of 13 games. Last season the offense had a passing grade in 12 of 14 games, the defense 7 of 14 games and special teams 13 of 14 games. Overall the offense improved to 74.9% from 74.6% in 2013. The defense dropped to 47.7% from 49.3% in 2013 and special teams took the biggest dive to 53.4% from 71.7% in 2013. During the last 3 games of the season Auburn allowed 3.93 yards per rush during the first-half and 7.58 yards per attempt during the second-half. How vital are impact plays? During Auburn's 73 scoring drives this season, 63 involved at least 1 play of 15-yards or more during the possession. Last season the Auburn defense registered 32 sacks and 13 interceptions. This season despite only 20 sacks, Auburn intercepted 22 passes. One can only imagine how many picks Auburn could have totaled in 2014 with a more consistent pass-rush. During the first 5 games of the season, the Auburn defense forced a "3 & out", 45 percent of the time. During the final 8 games of the season, it dropped to only 18 percent. During the first 5 games of the season, the Auburn defense allowed 24-yards per possession and a TD every 37.2 snaps. During the final 8 games of the season, the defense allowed 36-yards per possession and a TD every 16.6 snaps defended. During the first 7 games of the season, Auburn scored 75 points from their opponent's turnovers. During the final 6 games of the season, Auburn scored only 24 points off of turnovers. Rarely does a player find immediate success after making a position change at the collegiate level. Johnathan "Rudy" Ford moved to safety this season, finishing the year as Auburn's leading tackler with 93 stops. He also had 2.5 tackles for loss, 3 interceptions and 1 forced-fumble. Look for him to continue to grow into his position under Will Muschamp. Rudy Ford was No. 14 in the SEC with 7.15 tackles per game. Cassanova McKinzy was No. 16 and Kris Frost was No. 17. McKinzy was also No. 14 in the SEC with 11 tackles for loss. Fifteen SEC defensive linemen had more tackles for loss than Auburn's leader, Montravius Adams (8). Cameron Artis-Payne had some major shoes to fill, replacing Tre Mason. The senior RB, responded with an All-SEC season, leading the conference in rushing and No. 2 in rushing TD's. CAP's 123.7 yards per game was the 5th best average in school history. Cameron Artis-Payne was No. 15 nationally in yards per game. Quarterback Nick Marshall improved his passer-rating from 143.2 in 2013 to 150.8. His 150.8 rating is the 4th highest rated performance among the 37 Auburn quarterbacks to attempt at least 150 passes during a season. His TD ratio of 1 every 14.6 attempts was 5th best in school history. Marshall was No. 33 in pass-efficiency during 2013, improving to No. 15 his senior year. The Auburn offense finished No. 13 in run-offense and No. 9 in pass-efficiency offense. The Tigers were No. 17 in total-offense and No. 26 in scoring-offense. Based on yards per game, yards per play, points per game, TD ratio and strength of schedule, the 2014 Auburn offense is No. 3 among the past 60 Auburn offensive units. The 2010 offense was No. 1 with a 213.5 rating, the 2013 offense was No. 2 with a 209.9 rating and the 2014 unit had a rating of 199.6. From 1970-2014, Auburn has compiled a record of 204-6-0, when scoring at least 30 points during regulation. Four of the 6 losses have come during the past 2 seasons. From 2009-2014 (79 games), Auburn has allowed 26 PPG, 398.3 YPG and 163.2 yards rushing per game. Of those 79 games, it includes 26 losses, where Auburn allowed 36 PPG, 446.5 YPG and 222.6 yards rushing per game. The second installment of Will Muschamp's defense cannot start soon enough. The 2014 season marks the 12th time Auburn has closed a season with only 1 win during their last 5 games of the season since 1950. The Auburn coaching staff has their work cut out for them as Auburn followed up the previous 11 seasons with a win percentage of .622 the following year. Looking at only FBS competition, Auburn's 2014 schedule ended up being the 6th most difficult in school history, minus the result of the "Auburn" game. 10 of Auburn's 13 opponents this season (76.9%) were FBS programs that finished the season with a winning record. It was the 3rd highest percentage of winning opponents faced during a season from 1950-2014. The 1983 team holds the highest percentage (83.3%). So what happened to the 2014 Auburn defense? During the first 5 games of the season, Auburn faced opponents that averaged 402.0 YPG, averaging 30.4 PPG. The Auburn defense held them to 24% below their yardage average and 53% below their scoring average. During their last 7 FBS games, Auburn faced offenses that averaged 463.3 YPG, while scoring 35.1 PPG. Auburn allowed those 7 teams to gain 5.5% more yardage than their average, while scoring 7.7% more than the opponent's average. In a nutshell, the competition was better during the second-half of the season, but Auburn's production percentages should not have collapsed as much as it did. Time to move onto 2015 and Happy New Year!
  3. Last night was a clear example of a team that has lost its focus primarily because of how the season has played out. It is much easier to dig down deep physically and mentally, when you have major goals to play for like 2013. This isn't the case this late into the 2014 season and it shows. This is not an excuse for the poor performance last night but this clearly isn't a motivated "team". There are some players who continue to play hard but not enough to make the difference. When Gus Malzahn arrived after the 2012 season, his biggest challenge would be teaching the players how to win again. The challenge now for the coaching staff is demanding the players to play hard all the time, no matter the opponent and record. The second challenge is more difficult than the first. Speaking of players who have not mailed in their performance. Cameron Artis-Payne is a baller and brings his lunchbox to every game. He is not a thriller or speedster but he is a player you want to go to battle with. He ran hard last night just as he has against better competition. Through 11-games, his totals are the 6th best rushing performance by an Auburn player based on yards per game, yards per rush and TD ratio. He has been Auburn's most consistent offensive player this season. What has happened to Corey Grant? His first 20 carries of the season (1st 2 games) produced 14 runs of 5-yards, 7 of 10-yards or more and 3 of 15 yards or more. He was never tackled for a loss and had only 4 carries of 2-yards or less.The remainder of the season he has only 31 carries. Of those 31 attempts, 13 went for 5+, 5 for 10+ and only 2 for 15+. Of his last 31 carries, 14 have gone for 2-yards or less and 6 went for a loss. I believe this is why we have seen less of him running the football. This is also why we have seen more of Ricardo Louis and Quan Bray on the perimeter runs. During the first 9 games of the season, 46.4% of Auburn's offensive snaps resulted in at least 5-yards. During the past 2 games, it has dipped down to 41.7%. Gus Malzahn's offense is built around success on first down. The HUNH aspect doesn't come into play until the first 1st down is made during a possession. Last season through 11 games, 29% of Auburn's first down plays netted 2-yards or less. This season it is 40% through 11 games. Who are the impact players on offense this season? CAP (22), Duke Williams (19), Nick Marshall (18), Sammie Coates (10) and Quan Bray (8). Last year through 11 games it was Marshall (21), Tre Mason (14), Sammie Coates (13), Corey Grant (13) and CAP (10). Last season through 11 games the Auburn offense scored 11 touchdowns on 17 possessions (64.7%) beginning on the opponent's side of the field. This season it is only 6 from 16 possessions (37.5%). In terms of the weekly "report card " features, this is how this year's team compares to last year's through 11 games. 2014 offense (74.5%) slightly up from 73.2% in 2013. This year's defense (52.7%) slightly down from last year's 55.5%. This year's special teams (55.4%) significantly down from last year's 71.4%. In terms of recent trends, the offense has a report card percentage of 55.6% during the last 3 games. The defense is 42.2% and special teams is 50.0%. Last season the Auburn run-offense converted 86.0% of their short-yardage situations of 2-yards or less to convert. This season it is down to 78.4%. During the first 7 games of the season Auburn averaged 10.7 PPG from their opponent's turnovers, while allowing the opponent to score 4.0 PPG from Auburn's turnovers. During the last 4 games, Auburn has scored zero points from their forced turnovers, while allowing 5.2 PPG from their miscues. That is basically an 11-point swing per game. In terms of penalty yardage per game, Auburn is currently No. 114 nationally compared to No. 30 last year. Auburn has surrendered 31 first downs on penalties alone or 2.8 per game. From 2004-2013, Auburn allowed an average of 21 per season or 1.6 per game. The 2013 and 2014 offense both produced 106 impact plays through 11 games. The difference is the 2013 offense had a combined 67 turnovers and penalties, while the 2014 offense has 93, offsetting their offensive production. During the first 5 games of the season the Auburn offense went "3 & out" only 16.1% of the time, while the defense forced a "3 & out", 45.0% of the time. During the last 6 games the offense is hitting at 23.2% and the defense has fallen to 20.0%. As any football season progress teams either improve or regress. Last season's team progressed as the season moved forward and this year's team has retreated. There are many valid reasons for the lack of production. Talent, depth, coaching, preparation, strength of schedule and senior leadership. After the Iron Bowl and headed into bowl preparation, the coaching staff needs to seriously look at themselves as well as the players coming back next season. It will be interesting to see just how much fight this team has left for the Iron Bowl and how the coaching staff schemes to give their players the best opportunity to compete. War Eagle!
  4. Auburn is currently No. 2 nationally converting third-downs this season. One of the reasons for their offensive success on third-down is the improved play of the pass-offense this season compared to last year. Auburn was 6 of 7 passing on third-down against Georgia but penalties on successful third-down plays snuffed out several offensive possessions. The play... During this play Auburn faces a 3rd & 9 from their own 44-yard line. The Tigers come out in a 4-WR look with 2 receivers stacked on the wide side of the field. C.J. Uzomah is the front man on the stack and he will run a square-in route. The receiver at the top of the stack (Quan Bray) will run an out-route, pulling the safety outside. At the snap Nick Marshall will look off his intended target ( Uzomah) as Uzomah breaks inside on his route underneath the corner and behind the LB. Marshall resets his feet and delivers a high pass, which Uzomah snags, taking advantage of his height advantage. The play results in a 12-yard gain and an Auburn first down. Last season the Auburn pass-offense possessed a solid pass rating on third-down but the rating was misleading. Auburn converted only 33.7% of their 3rd downs, throwing the football. This season they have converted 51.4%, which is currently 4th nationally.
  5. 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.
  6. Some fans keep commenting on Auburn needing to find an offensive identity, which is puzzling to comprehend. Auburn through 6 games is No. 21 nationally averaging 487-yards per game and No. 15, in scoring-offense, averaging 39 PPG. A team that is struggling to find it's offensive identity looks like Florida or Vanderbilt. They certainly don't look like a team that averages over 480-yards per game and nearly 40 PPG. To put things in perspective, consider the following. From 1990-2013, only 13 of 288 SEC teams (4.5%) finished the season averaging over 480-yards per game. The Auburn run-offense, though not at the level of 2013 is still very good. AU has surpassed 200+ yards rushing in 5 of 6 games. Auburn can still run the football and people must realize 2013 was an exception to the rule. Since 1960, only 38 of 598 SEC teams averaged more than 260-yards rushing per game (6.3%). From 1990-2013, only 3 of 288 SEC teams (1%) averaged more than 260-yards rushing per game and only 1 averaged more than 300 (Auburn 2013). Auburn is currently averaging 277.3 yards rushing in conference play, No. 1 in the SEC. Of the 302 SEC teams from 1990-2014, Auburn's current average of 262-yards rushing per game is the 6th best average during that time frame. Yes, Auburn isn't running the football like 2013 but it is far from being broke. Only 5 other teams have done it better than the 2014 Auburn Tigers among 302 SEC teams. The media talks about the powerful Arkansas running game currently averaging 256.9 yards per game but fail to mention only 163.2 yards per game in conference play. Is everything perfect through 6 games? Nope but the coaches and players know this. Hopefully they were able to take advantage of this recent bye-week to make some fine adjustments on offense. There has been plenty of self-scouting and evaluation to become more consistent moving forward. I associate the words, "lack of identity" with being lost. Auburn isn't lost offensively. Are they having consistency issues stemming from poor execution? You bet. The coaching staff came into this season wanting to generate more explosive plays in the pass-offense. They knew duplicating last year's rushing numbers was virtually impossible with the departures AU suffered in personnel loss. I believe the coaching staff wants to address a few issues of consistency, when it comes to execution but that is a far cry from lacking an offensive identity. Nothing has changed from a schematic point of view, when it comes to offensive goals. Malzahn wants to run the football (be physical) and have a vertical passing offense to compliment the running game. Most of the breakdowns suffered on offense through 6 games has more to do with execution than player personnel. The Tigers are striving to be more physical up front and are having to deal with losing a starting guard (Alex Kozan) before the season began along with the early departure of Greg Robinson. The recent in jury to Patrick Miller resulted in another OL shuffle. This is why Braden Smith is now getting a look at the guard position. The coaches want more explosiveness at the RB position, so Roc Thomas will likely have an expanded role. This doesn't mean that Cameron Artis-Payne has been a failure. He is far from it, currently ranked No. 20 nationally in rushing. He is also on pace for a 1400+ yard season within a 13-game season. I cannot wait to see what Roc Thomas physically looks like next year with an off-season conditioning program under his belt. He certainly has the burst Tre Mason possessed. Ricardo Louis was not performing consistently so Quan Bray is getting more reps. I've heard comments that Gus Malzahn is too loyal or stubborn to make personnel changes. The examples I just listed is proof otherwise and there have been other changes during the first-half of the season. We have seen various rotations of the bigger WR's (Ray and Denson) and TE's to improve setting the edge and perimeter blocking. As for the quarterback position, I have no doubt the coaches will give Jeremy Johnson a shot if THEY feel Nick Marshall is not delivering at the level they want. Until that moment happens, I'm going to believe the coaches still have full confidence in their starting quarterback. Through 6 games into 2014, Nick Marshall has a better TD-INT ratio than 2013. It was 6-4 last year and 10-3 this year. His ratio of impact plays in the passing-game is better in 2014 than 2013. Last season only 31% of his third-down passes resulted in a first down and this year it is 44%. With the same number of rush attempts through 6 games, Marshall is also gaining more yards per rush than 2013. Auburn's pass-offense through 6 games is currently No. 14 nationally in generating 1st downs or touchdowns and No. 24 in pass-efficiency. The only significant drop in his passing numbers has come on first-down. Marshall is completing 62% this season compared to 67% through 6 games into 2013. I'm looking forward to see how Auburn responds this Saturday night against the Gamecocks. Last season the offense continued to improve after their bye-week, following the LSU defeat. Hopefully, we will see similar results this season.
  7. With Duke Williams being the primary target 30.5% of the time in the passing game, opposing defenses are now shifting and adjusting their coverages to match up with Williams. This should create opportunities for the other Auburn receivers in the pass-offense. Because Sammie Coates has been slowed by an early-season knee injury, Auburn's coaches have been pushing for other players to step up. One of those options has been Quan Bray. During the last couple of games, Quan Bray has been more involved in the offense and he is currently on pace to have his best season as an Auburn wide-receiver. The play... During this play Auburn has a 1st & 10 from their own 20-yard line. The Tigers are set to run a play-action pass from a 4-WR set. Before the snap Nick Marshall knows the safeties are in a cover-2 with Duke Williams in the slot. At the snap Marshall play-actions with Cameron Artis-Payne. As Marshall drops to pass he see's the LB dropping short to cover Williams underneath and the safety over top. This leaves Quan Bray 1 on 1 with the field corner, playing 7-yards off the line. Quan Bray will run a down & out pattern as Nick Marshall looks off his intended target. After looking Bray off, Marshall will quickly reset his feet and hips, firing a bullet out to Bray. The pass is thrown just as Bray is coming out of his break, allowing the senior wide-out to haul in the pass without the defender right on top of him. The play results in a 12-yard gain and another Auburn first-down. It should be noted that Williams ran a short dig route underneath the OLB and he was also open on a shorter route than Bray. These are the types of passes Auburn needs to run more of on 1st down, which would help bring up Marshall's 62% completion rate on 1st down.
  8. After carrying the ball 10 times during each of the first 2 games, Corey Grant's rush attempts have dropped to an average of 6 per game during Auburn's last 3 games. Though Grant was never intended to be the featured RB, I do believe it is important to have him involved in the offensive game plan. Because of his ability to go the distance from anywhere on the field, he should have at least 10 offensive touches per game. It will be interesting to see what his role will be this week against Mississippi State. It will likely be difficult to run between the tackles so Grant could be a key contributor on the edge and in the passing game. Auburn needs to get Grant out in space to increase his opportunity to generate explosive plays. The play... On this play Auburn will run a toss-sweep to Grant at the LSU 12-yard line. Auburn came out in this formation from their sugar-huddle with Nick Marshall under center. Auburn breaks the huddle and snaps the ball quickly to get Corey Grant on the edge as soon as possible. The key to the play is the blocking of Melvin Ray and Quan Bray on the edge and Brandon Fulse as the lead-blocker. Corey Grant does a great job of cutting the play back inside rather than attempting to race towards the sideline. By cutting back inside, Grant has a shorter path to the end zone. Grant darts into the LSU end zone behind Shon Coleman for a 12-yard TD run. During Grant's last 18 carries, 10 have been held to 2-yards or less, including 4 tackles for loss. During his first 20 carries of the season, Grant produced 7 runs of 10-yards or more. He has only 4 during his last 18 rushes. Blocking on the perimeter has been inconsistent this season and something Auburn needs to improve upon.
  9. If Auburn is to leave Starkville, Mississippi with a victory this Saturday, Sammie Coates will likely play a major role on offense. Off to a slow start this season, Coates had not made his presence known on the field until the LSU game, when he made 4 impact plays during a 41-7 Auburn victory. Hopefully as his knee becomes 100%, he will continue to make big plays in the Auburn pass-offense. Last season the Auburn pass-offense generating 54 impact plays (15+ yards). This season they are on pace for 87 in the same number of games. Play #1... On this play Auburn faces a 2nd & 19 from their own 44-yard line. Auburn comes out in a 4-WR set with "trips" to the wide side of the field. Sammie Coates is singled on the boundary side. At the snap Coates must work through press-coverage by the CB. He stiff-arms the CB coming off the line and works to the CB's inside shoulder as he runs a fly-route. Nick Marshall has a great pocket to work within, allowing him to wait on Coates to get down field. Marshall has time to step into his deep throw as he launches a deep ball to Coates. Sammie Coates is able to haul in the deep ball between two defenders, powering his way into the LSU end zone for the score. This play was very similar to the two deep passes Coates caught against LSU, during Auburn's 35-21 loss to the Bengal-Tigers. Play #2... Through the first 3 games Sammie Coates had failed to register a single play of 15-yards or more. Against LSU, he came up with 4. During this play Auburn faces a 3rd & 6 from midfield, coming out in another 4-WR set. The Tigers have 2 double-stacks at WR before the snap. Sammie Coates and Marcus Davis are stacked at the bottom of the formation, with Quan Bray and Duke Williams stacked at the top. At the snap Sammie Coates runs a square-in route as Marcus Davis runs a short stop and out underneath. Cameron Artis-Payne releases out of the backfield, which pulls the 2 LB's underneath Coate's square-in over the middle. Nick Marshall zips his pass over the LB's and underneath the safety covering Coates. Sammie Coates hauls in the pass and picks up 21-yards on the play for an Auburn first down. Nick Marshall had his best passing performance of the 2014 season and Sammie Coates played a major role in Marshall's success. Though Auburn hasn't been able to run the football at the record-breaking pace of last season, this year's offense could become more explosive and balanced with this kind of performance in the passing game.
  10. As the season has progressed, D'haquille Williams is receiving more attention from opposing defenses. With this in mind, it is up to the Auburn coaching to staff to create opportunities for the other receivers to make plays. LSU's game plan was to take away Williams, forcing Auburn to generate plays from other personnel. Duke Williams was held to just 2 receptions, limited to only 5 passes thrown in his direction. Of his 2 receptions only 1 was an impact play. Auburn was able to counter with 6 impact plays to Auburn's remaining receivers. The play... On this play Auburn faces a 3rd & 3 from their own 47-yard line. Auburn comes out in a 4-WR look with trips to the wide-side of the field. The 3 receivers on the wide side are initially stacked before C.J. Uzomah shifts from the top of the stack towards the backfield. The purpose of shifting Uzomah is for pass-protection, because Nick Marshall will roll to his right after the snap. Duke Williams at the front of the "stack" will run a rub route between the 2 DB's. Quan Bray will shadow behind Williams to run an out-pattern towards the sideline. Nick Marshall rolls to his right after taking the snap, quickly firing the pass out to Quan Bray. Bray hauls in the pass and turns up field and down the sideline for a 19-yard gain and an Auburn first down. Auburn targeted 9 different players in their passing game against LSU. The six impact pass-plays away from Duke Williams netted 185-yards.
  11. It is always good to see a senior step up during the season, especially when it is a player who is not a frequent starter. Quan Bray stepped up during Auburn's Homecoming game against La. Tech, accounting for 3 touchdowns during the game. Bray's performance was a catalyst to breaking open what was a close game. Through the first 3 games Auburn's receiving corps has not played to their full potential as a group, so it was great to see Quan Bray making explosive plays on a day they were much needed. The Play... On this play Auburn faces a 3rd & 10 from inside the Bulldog 38-yard line. Auburn comes out in a 4-WR set but only 3 of the 4 are eligible for a pass. Quan Bray and Ricardo Louis are lined up two-yards off the line, so they are considered to be in the backfield, thus eligible for a pass. D'haquille Williams is on the line and the last player on the end, so he too is eligible. Sammie Coates is the only player not eligible because of the alignment. At the snap Sammie Coates will fake the screen-look but the La. Tech defense did not bite. In image #1, you can see the Bulldog safety pointing out that Coates is not an eligible receiver (good recognition on his part). Nick Marshall carries out his pump-fake to Coates before resetting his feet and throwing to Quan Bray on a go-route. Though La. Tech did not fall for the "Coates" fake, the safety over top does commit to Duke Williams running a post-pattern. This leaves Quan Bray 1 on 1 with the corner. Bray works his way to the inside shoulder of the corner, giving him additional space to position for the eventual pass. Nick Marshall delivers a perfect pass, hitting Bray in stride. Bray does a great job of positioning his body to shield the corner away from incoming pass. Bray hauls in the pass for an Auburn touchdown. Pass-protection was stellar on the play, allowing Marshall to go through his fake and to reset his feet for the deep pass to Bray. * Auburn was 6 of 10 passing on third-down for 132-yards and 3 TD's
  12. You know there are high expectations when your team wins by 28, yet there are numerous concerns moving forward. Four games into the season and Auburn is 4-0 on the season but that was expected to be the case before the 2014 season began. Auburn now moves into the heart of their schedule and we are about to see what this team is truly made of beginning this upcoming Saturday as the Tigers play host to visiting LSU. The defense is playing well but there are question marks concerning the offense and the kicking-game. Coach Dameyune Craig was hoping for some of the Auburn receivers to step up other than Duke Williams and Sammie Coates before the season began, so it was a pleasant surprise to see senior Quan Bray make a statement against Louisiana Tech. He basically turned in a game-changing performance in what was a close ball game until he began to make his impact felt. His performance is what you wish seniors to deliver and he delivered in a big way. He recorded 3 touchdowns on the day and all three were needed to generate the separation Auburn needed to put away the Bulldogs. Except for the injuries and a couple of big plays, the defense delivered another solid performance. Auburn continued to be sturdy on run-defense and came up with a couple of big turnovers. These are trends this season Auburn must continue to navigate through their upcoming beast of a schedule. The offense continued to sputter in the running game but at least came up with several big-plays, something they could not deliver against Kansas State. Gus Malzahn is still searching for Auburn to be more physical at the point of attack, which will be desperately needed in the next games. Inside the Numbers... After beginning the season with a 100% conversion rate on third-downs during the first quarter of the first two games, Auburn has now gone 0 for 7 during the last two games during the first quarter. This slow start offense must be addressed. During the last 2 games, Cameron-Artis Payne and Corey Grant have rushed for an average of 3.77 yards per rush on 58 combined attempts. After giving up only 2 plays of 30-yards or more during the first 3 games, Auburn's defense surrendered 3 against La. Tech. Prior to Saturday's game against La. Tech, Quan Bray had 1 career offensive play of 30-yards or more (Miss State 2013). He recorded 2 such plays on offense against Louisiana Tech. In terms of consistency, here is the percentage of offensive plays of at least 5-yards through 4 games. 50.0% against Arkansas, 52.1% against San Jose State, 31.6% against Kansas State and 51.4% against La. Tech. Last season through 4 games, Auburn's offense gained at least 5-yards on 45.0% of their offensive snaps, while allowing the opponent to gain at least 5-yards on 44.0% of their snaps. This season the Auburn offense is hitting at 46.0% and the defense is at 37.1%. Louisiana Tech is the first team to gain more yards per play during the second-half than the first-half against the 2014 Auburn defense. For the season, Auburn has allowed 5.2 yards per play during the first-half and 3.8 yards per play during the second-half. Through 4 games, 52.4% of the snaps defended by the Auburn defense has been held to 2-yards or less. Last year through 4 games, it was 46.0%. Auburn currently gains at least 5-yards on first-down, 46.9% of the time. Last season through 4 games it was 45.6%. The 2013 offense closed out the last 10 games, gaining at least 5-yards on first-down, 53.7% of the time. Auburn has 16 impact run-plays and 22 impact-pass plays through 4 games. Last season it was 13 run-lays and 17 pass-plays through the first 4 games of the season. Nick Marshall has converted 48.2 percent on third-down, throwing the football this season. Last year through 4 games it was 34.5 percent. Last season through 4 games the Auburn offense began an offensive possession on the opponent's side of the field, 5.7% of the time. This season it is up to 18.4%, which will be a major factor for success if this continues. Auburn has scored 40% of the time beginning a possession on their side of the field and 89% on the opponent's side of the field. Last season the Auburn defense finished the season ranked No. 62 in pass-efficiency defense. This season they are currently No. 24 nationally. Nick Marshall is currently 11 of 32 (34.4%) throwing beyond 10-yards of the line of scrimmage. Jeremy Johnson is 9 of 12 (75.0%). 43.0% of Cameron Artis-Payne's carries have netted at least 5-yards and 12.8% have gone for at least 10-yards. Tre Mason through 4 games hit 5-yards 46.2% of the time and 10-yards or more 13.8% of the time. Auburn run-defense has allowed 3.16 yards per rush during the first-half and 1.95 yards during the second-half. Of Auburn's 24 scoring drives this season, 20 of them have involved at least 1 impact play during the possession. This season facing 2-yards or less to convert, Auburn's offense is 19 of 23 running he football (82.6%). Last season through 4 games it was 20 of 26 (76.9%) and 82.9% for the entire season. 62.2% of Auburn's offensive snaps have been part of a scoring drive. Only 26.2% of the opponent's snaps have been part of a scoring drive. Last season through 4 games it was 49.5% on offense and 33.1% on defense. Moving forward... Plenty of concern by Auburn fans about the offense and some of it is clearly valid. It all starts up front with the offensive line as well as perimeter blocking. Production on first down has slightly declined this season, which is the origin of the subsequent offensive woes. Last season Auburn averaged 6.7 yards per play, running the ball on first down. This season it is 5.6 yards, which is still respectable but not as dominating as 2013. The primary concern in my opinion is the lack of production during the first quarter of the last 2 games. A slow start to Gus Malzahn's offense is rarely a good sign and something the Tigers must address with LSU coming to town this Saturday. The good news is that the defense is playing well enough to keep Auburn in every game. It's no longer that feeling of having to score at least 30 points every game to have an opportunity to win. Ellis Johnson's defensive unit has made major strides this season and are obviously way ahead of the 2013 version during the first 4 games of the season. Tackling is much better and the Tigers are forcing more turnovers. Run-defense has been solid but they still lack a consistent pass-rush without blitzing. With that being said, the improvement on the defensive side of the football makes up for the inconsistency on the offensive side. Overall, Auburn is still a very dangerous team, capable of beating anyone on their current schedule. As fans we would be more excited about the prospects of the remainder of the season if the offense was hitting on all cylinders. Regardless of the sputtering moments on offense the past two weeks, there is still valid reasons to be excited about the unit's potential. There is still plenty of talent in a system designed to generate explosive plays. Only time will tell if this team can live up to its potential but I expect plenty of excitement as we witness the growth of the 2014 Auburn Tigers. Is this a team of championship quality? I still believe so but the schedule will severely test this Auburn team more so than the 2013 squad. Keep the faith and watch our young men compete to be the best in the conference once again. War Eagle!
  13. One of the primary goals during spring practice was improving Auburn's pass-offense, especially when it comes to attacking vertically. Sammie Coates proved to be a dangerous weapon last season but Auburn coaches expect for others to step up this season to complete the wide-receiver corp. Top-5 receivers from A-Day: Melvin Ray: 6-91-0 "Duke" Williams: 5-88-1 Quan Bray: 3-89-2 Tony Stevens: 3-64-2 Sammie Coates: 2-29-1 Taking the top-5 WR performances from A-Day, Auburn's top receivers caught 19 passes for 361-yards and 6 TD's. The top-5 receivers averaged 19.0 yards per reception compared to the 14.1 average during the 2013 season. The top-5 receivers generated 10 plays of 15-yards or more for a ratio of 1 for every 1.9 receptions made. Last season Auburn's WR's averaged an impact play every 3.1 receptions. The top-5 receivers averaged a TD every 3.2 receptions compared to the 2013 ratio of 1 every 9.1 receptions. JUCO transfer D'haquille Williams lived up to the hype, catching 5 passes for 88-yards. He caught 1 TD pass, which is broken down in the above clipbit. Facing a 1st & goal from the 3-yard line, Nick Marshall will throw a fade-route to the corner of the end zone. Duke Williams utilizes his physical attributes to create separation between himself and the CB covering 1 on 1. Williams goes vertical to snag the football at it's highest point. He turns his upper body to shield the ball, while securing it with both hands. Needing only 1 foot down to complete the reception, Williams manages to get both feet in bounds. Coach Rhett Lashlee has stressed to his quarterbacks for them to allow the WR's to make plays. Auburn was 39th nationally in terms of pass-efficiency inside the red zone during the 2013 season. The above play and Sammie Coates 1-handed TD reception are the type of plays Lashlee wants from his passing game. Yards per reception: Auburn's WR's averaged 14.1 yards per reception, which was 17th best among Auburn receivers over the past 30 years. If you took the top-5 WR corps in terms of yards per reception, they combined for a 57-7-0 record. Look for Auburn to make a major improvement in their vertical passing game, which will means a better impact ratio in the passing game and a better yards per reception.
  14. Finding a second receiver to step up in 2014 to team up with Sammie Coates will be one of the primary goals for the Auburn offense. The Tigers fielded one of the top offenses in the nation during their BCS Championship run but a consistent tandem at WR could take the offense to a higher level of performance. With Nick Marshall returning at quarterback, the Auburn offense already has dynamic potential but adding another play maker at WR would truly stretch opposing defenses to the max. From 1970-2013, there has only been 5 occasions, where Auburn had a tandem of WR's or a TE to total at least 40 receptions each during one season. 1971: Terry Beasley (55-846-12) & Dick Schmalz (44-647-7) 1994: Frank Sanders (58-910-7) & Thomas Bailey (41-550-2) 1997: Karsten Bailey (53-840-7) & Tyrone Goodson (48-906-5) 1998: Karsten Bailey (43-651-7) & Clifton Robinson (42-672-0) 2010: Darvin Adams (52-963-7) & Terrell Zachery (43-605-4) From 1970-2013, the current 14 members of the SEC were able to field a "tandem" of 40-reception WR's or TE's during a season on 107 occasions. This means it occurred only 17.3 percent of the time during that 44-year period. Here is the total number of times for each program... Missouri ................... 14 (2 times in the SEC) Florida ..................... 12 Georgia .................... 11 LSU ......................... 11 Tennessee ................ 9 Texas A&M ............... 9 (2 times in the SEC) Vanderbilt ................. 8 Kentucky .................. 7 Ole Miss ................... 7 Arkansas .................. 5 (All while in the SEC) Auburn ..................... 5 South Carolina .......... 5 (4 times in the SEC) Alabama .................. 2 Miss State ................ 2 Though tandems only occurred 17.3% of the time from 1970-2013, it has happened 53.6% of the time during the past 2 seasons. Offenses are obviously more balanced and wide open during the past decade than any other period of the Southeastern Conference. This is another reason why it has become imperative for Auburn to field their own reliable tandem to compete in the SEC. Producing such level of play will only open the doors for recruiting quality receivers. The talent is present for Auburn to field another consistent performer at WR to match up with Sammie Coates. Ricardo Louis is the most likely candidate among the returning WR's but D'haquille Williams is already drawing praise from his early production this spring. Jaylon Denson, Marcus Davis, Tony Stevens and Melvin Ray saw plenty of action last season along with Quan Bray. Dominic Walker is another big target to watch for after red shirting the 2013 season. Through 8 collegiate seasons, Gus Malzahn has fielded a "tandem" on 4 occasions but only once, while at Auburn. I expect Auburn to throw the football 25 times per game, up from their 20 attempts per game during 2013. Sammie Coates was targeted 78 times last season, followed by Ricardo Louis (48). Marcus Davis and Quan Bray were tied for No. 3, targeted 31 times each.
  15. There wasn't very much to nitpick about when it came to the 2013 Auburn offense. The Tigers were No. 11 in total offense and No. 12 in scoring offense this past season, setting school records in total yardage and run-offense. They were not perfect but the Auburn running game was the driving force to Pasadena, California through Atlanta. If there were issues on offense, it primarily came in the pass-offense, with Nick Marshall growing into his position as the season progressed. The numbers... Auburn finished the season with the No. 1 ranked run-offense and the nation's No. 24 ranked pass-offense in terms of pass-efficiency. No. 24 pass-efficiency offense but No. 6 in the Southeastern Conference. No. 13 rated pass-offense (efficiency) on third-down. No. 11 rated pass-offense in producing pass-plays of 25-yards or more. No. 14 rated pass-offense in touchdown ratio. No. 10 rated pass-efficiency offense during the 1st quarter. The above rankings paints quite the picture of a very efficient pass-offense, capable of producing big-plays and extending drives. It's important to remember the NCAA efficiency formula is primarily based on completion percentage, yards per attempt and TD ratio. In reality, the efficiency rating doesn't always translate into actual production as the following example reveals. Example #1: 15-20-1-200yds-1td (165.5 rating) Example #2: 11-20-0-145yds-3tds (163.3 rating In the above example, Quarterback #1 had a higher completion percentage and the better yards per attempt average. Quarterback #2 finished the game with 3 TD passes and 0 interceptions but had a lower efficiency rating than Quarterback #1, who had 1 TD pass and 1 pick. Which QB numbers would you want during a game? The numbers from a productivity standpoint... Even though Auburn had an efficiency rating of No. 24 nationally, the Tigers were No. 70 nationally in their ratio of first-downs produced by their pass-offense. Even though Auburn had the No. 13 efficiency rated pass-offense on third-down, the Tigers were No. 77 in actually converting third-downs, throwing the football. Auburn was No. 10 in pass-efficiency throwing the football during the first quarter but No. 33 throwing the football during the fourth quarter. Auburn was No. 11 nationally in producing pass-plays of 25-yards or more but No. 29 in producing pass-plays of 15-yards or more. The 2012 Auburn pass-offense produced 53 pass plays of 15-yards or more in 12 games. The 2013 pass-offense had only 54 in 14 games. As good as the offensive line was paving a path for the ground-game, the Tigers were No. 54 nationally in sack-ratio allowed. Looking at Auburn's pass-offense in terms of a "productivity" standpoint, reveals some of the concerns Auburn will face moving forward into 2014. Though I see the value of the efficiency rating, it's also important to focus on the actual productivity level. Sometimes they are one in the same but the above examples show this is not always the case. I tend to look at productivity translating to points and first downs. Comparing only Auburn pass-offenses from 1992-2013, the 2013 pass-offense was No. 3 in producing pass-plays of 30-yards or more but No. 9 in producing pass-plays of 15-yards or more. Why is this a concern? The ratio of impact plays (15+) to big plays (30+) is 4 to 1 from 1992-2013. Because impact plays happen far more frequently, it's vital Auburn is more efficient in the intermediate range passing-game than the deep ball. From 1992-2013 an impact play (15+) has been worth 3.7 points. Big plays are great but the impact plays made in the intermediate passing game are the plays that extend drives. The 2013 Auburn offense produced 83 scoring drives, scoring on 44.9 percent of their possessions last season. Of their 83 scoring drives, 74 percent of the plays from the scoring drives were run plays. Auburn was heavily reliant upon their running game in 2013 and for the most part, made the most of it. Imagine how explosive and how difficult it would be to defend the 2014 Auburn offense with a more prolific passing game. Nick Marshall... Enough cannot be said about Nick Marshall's progression this past season. This was his first season playing quarterback at this level and he did so without participating in spring practice. Adjusting to the speed of the game and a new offense, he led his team to a SEC Championship and was seconds from winning a national championship. He clearly was a better quarterback at the end of the year than he was, when he made his first start against Washington State. During the first 4 games of the season, he had an efficiency rating of 129.3, improving to 154.4 during the final 4 games of the season. Marshall was a fearless leader and his teammates gravitated around him. His impressive efficiency rating during Auburn's last 4 games of the season against ranked opponents, is a clear indicator he hasn't reached the ceiling of his full potential. He will have a comfort zone entering the 2014 season he did not possess at the start of 2013 and 2014 will mark the first time Gus Malzahn had the same starting quarterback two years in a row. Nick Marshall completed only 40.0 percent of his passes attempted beyond 5-yards of the line of scrimmage, which needs to improve in 2014. In comparison, Cam Newton completed 56.1 percent of his passes. Nick Marshall produced a run-play of 10-yards or more every 4.3 attempts, better than Cam Newton's ratio of 1 every 5.3 attempts. The difference was Newton's ability to hit a pass-play of 15-yards or more every 4.3 attempts to Marshall's 1 every 5.3 attempts. The 2013 pass-offense was the No. 3 most efficient pass-offense during the last 50 years of Auburn football. The 2013 pass-offense was the No. 4 most efficient in conference play during the past 50 years of Auburn football. Looking back over the past 30 years, Nick Marshall produced 4 of the top-20 most efficient pass performances against a top-10 ranked opponent. No other Auburn quarterback had more in one season. Sammie Coates was Auburn's most frequented target this past year with 27.4 percent of the passes thrown in his direction and Ricardo Louis was No. 2 at 16.8 percent. Quan Bray and Marcus Davis were tied for No. 3 at 10.9 percent. Auburn will likely have a strong running game again in 2014 and an improved pass-offense could produce record setting numbers once again. Nick Marshall needs to become more efficient and productive but the good news is the potential is there for it to actually transpire. Malzahn and Lashlee are extremely high on the senior to be with Marshall improving as the 2013 season progressed, despite the schedule becoming more challenging. Despite the losses of 3 starters on the offense, Nick Marshall will have a great supporting cast in 2014. Four starters up front return as well as all of his receivers. The addition of D'haquille Williams to the receiving corps, gives Marshall another major playmaker in the pass-offense. Marcus Davis and Tony Stevens will also go through spring and summer workouts for the first time, which will allow them to develop physically and mentally. Marshall having the spring, summer and fall sessions to improve before the 2014 season begins should be huge for the Auburn offense. Addressing his mechanics and improving his field recognition should push Marshall to reaching his full potential as the starting quarterback.
  16. Auburn's offensive line has not received the attention they deserve through the media but opposing coaches have certainly taken notice. You don't lead the nation in rushing from a BCS conference without having solid OL play. Coach J.B. Grimes has done a stellar job, focusing on the details and mechanics of his pupils. It started in the conditioning program and took shape once actual practice began. Raising the performance level of each individual player set the foundation for a "unit" that has improved as the season progressed. Auburn has been fortunate to avoid any major injuries up front, which has resulted in one of the best OL's in the nation. On this play Auburn has a 1st & 10 at the Missouri 13-yard line. The Tigers come out in their Wildcat set with an unbalanced line. Note that both tackles are on the right side of the formation. At the snap Nick Marshall will fake the speed-sweep to Quan Bray as Alex Kozan pulls to his right. As Nick Marshall makes the inside give to Tre Mason, Auburn now has 4 OL to the right of Reese Dismukes, overloading the left side of the Missouri defense. In frames #2 & #3, you can see Alex Kozan chipping the DE first and moving on to crush the MLB. Reese Dismukes is rerouting the DT outside away from the point of attack. Chad Slade initially doubles on the other DT and releases to the 2nd level to engage the OLB. In frame #3, Avery Young and Greg Robinson folds the left side of the Missouri line inside, creating a running lane for Tre Mason. Tre Mason now has the safety 1 on 1, cutting inside the safety on his way to the end zone. Mason breaks the tackle and powers his way into the end zone for the score. Despite Missouri having 8 in the box to start the play, Auburn still manages to overload the left side of the line to power their way in for the score.
  17. Against the Georgia Bulldogs, Nick Marshall attempted 7 passes beyond 20-yards of the line of scrimmage. He was able to complete 2 of those passes, missing out on grand opportunities to make the Bulldogs pay for risky man coverage. Through 11 games Marshall is 11 of 35, throwing the ball deep (31.4%). During the third-period, Marshall missed on two deep side line routes to Quan Bray and Sammie Coates. With Georgia selling out to defend the run, there were opportunities for Auburn to put the game away in the third-period but Auburn failed to take advantage of some of these opportunities. You can bank these opportunities will be there again against Alabama. On this play Auburn faces a 3rd & 6 from their own 48-yard line. Just before the snap, the CB covering Sammie Coates tips off that he is coming on a corner blitz. This will leave 1 on 1 coverage on Sammie Coates by the safety. At the snap Nick Marshall looks off his primary target. The OL does a good job of allowing Marshall to step up in the pocket to make his deep throw to Coates running a deep sideline route. Coates has the safety beat but Marshall over throws the ball, which sails out of bounds. Had Marshall connected on 3 to 4 of these deep pass attempts, Auburn would not have needed the miracle pass in the end. Alabama is currently No. 2 nationally in allowing explosive run-plays but is No. 62 in allowing explosive pass-plays. Nick Marshall appears to be more accurate throwing the deep post routes than the deep sideline routes. This could be another big game for Ricardo Louis.
  18. If Auburn is going to defeat Alabama in two weeks, the Auburn running game will need to be hitting on all 8 cylinders. Corey Grant could play a major role in the Iron Bowl just as he and Ricardo Louis did against Georgia's speedy defense. With the primary focus being on Nick Marshall and Tre Mason, it should create opportunities for Grant. In order for Grant to be successful against the Crimson Tide defense, he will need to be decisive in his decision making. Any hesitation or doubt will likely result in a negative play on perimeter runs. On this play, the key to it's success was Corey Grant's decision to cut up field at the first moment of opportunity. Auburn will operate out of their inverted-veer look with the speed-sweep action. The defense will likely focus on Nick Marshall, allowing Grant to break to the edge. Jay Prosch will seal the edge as Brandon Fulse will kick-out the safety dropping down in run support. Alex Kozan will pull to his right to engage the OLB as Avery Young releases the DE and targets the ILB. Grant makes a quick cut up field behind Jay Prosch as Quan Bray makes the final block to spring Grant into the secondary. Corey Grant makes 2 great cuts on the play, which allows him to maximize his quickness and speed to the end zone for a 21-yard TD play. This is the type of instinct Grant needs to display against Alabama to create explosive plays in the running game. Though Grant has only 56 carries on the season, he is averaging 9.9 yards per rush with 22 runs for first downs and 19 runs of 10-yards or more.
  19. One of the keys to victory against Arkansas was Auburn's offensive production inside the red zone. The Tigers scored 4 TD's during 4 trips to the Razorback red zone. Auburn is currently No. 16 nationally in scoring TD's inside the red zone and No. 2 in the SEC. This is a major step up from the 103rd ranking the Auburn offense had during 2012. This level of success is a tribute to the play-calling and player execution. On this play Auburn faces a 2nd goal from the Razorback 5-yard line. Auburn comes out in what essentially is a 6-man OL with Shon Coleman lined up as a TE. Before the snap Quan Bray comes in motion on the Jet-sweep look. At the snap, Nick Marshall fakes the hand off to Bray, which freezes the LB's and secondary. After faking to Bray, Nick Marshall hands off to Tre Mason on the inside give. The OL opens up a gaping hole as Mason darts in for an easy score. Note in frame #3 and #4 that the CB (#21) is actually in position to make a play on Mason but he bites on the speed-sweep to Bray, unaware Mason has the football.
  20. Upon Further Review - Texas A&M 2013 The second quarter continues to be a weak spot for the Auburn offense, when converting third-downs. The Tigers have converted 58.3% in the first, 40.9% in the third and 50.0% in the fourth. Auburn has converted only28.6% during the second period through 7 games. Through 7 games Auburn's opponent has converted only 8 of 43 third-down situations of at least 10-yards. Auburn has allowed 21 plays of 30-yards or more this season, with 17 coming via the passing game. The Auburn offense has generated 23 plays of 30-yards or more with 10 rushing and 13 passing. TAMU averaged 8.5 yards per snap during the first half and 6.4 during the second half. Of Auburn's 66 impact plays (15-yds+) gained on offense, 37 have come on the ground and 29 through the air. Of the 53 allowed on defense, 36 have come passing and 17 on the ground. Nick Marshall is currently averaging 189.7 yards passing and 64.7 yards rushing per game. Tre Mason is on pace to rush for nearly 1300-yards in a 13-game season. Auburn's 3-headed monster at RB is currently averaging 212.3 yards per game on 6.9 yards per carry. Of Auburn's offensive possessions, only 8.5% have started on the opponent's side of the field. This continues to be an area Auburn needs to improve on. Auburn's top-4 most targeted players in the pass-offense are Sammie Coates (37), Ricardo Louis (31), Marcus Davis (21) and Quan Bray (20). Auburn has scored on 90% of their red zone possessions, including 69% TD's. The opponent has scored on 72% and 44% TD's. The 2010 Auburn run-offense averaged 283.7 YPG on 5.96 yards per rush through 7 games. The 2013 Auburn running game is currently averaging 300.4 YPG on 6.29 yards per carry. Auburn sure could use Cam Newton right now! Tre Mason and Cameron Artis-Payne have not been tackled for a loss during their last combined 143 carries. During the last 3 games the Auburn defense has allowed 2.94 yards per rush during the first half and 3.08 yards during the second half. During Auburn's 39 scoring drives through 7 games, 69.9 percent of the plays have been run plays. The first 19 scoring drives resulted in 12 TD's and 7 FG's. The last 20 drives have been 18 TD's and only 2 FG's. The Auburn offense went 7 of 8 in short-yardage situations of 2-yards or less against the Aggies. Auburn gained a total of 164-yards during those 8 short-yardage plays. Last season through 7 games the Auburn DL was responsible for 19.4% of the team's tackles. This season it has improved to 30.3%. During Auburn's last 3 games, the Tigers have averaged 390.7 yards rushing, while allowing 107.7 yards rushing to their opponent. During Auburn's 39 scoring drives this season, 18 have been aided by at least 1 play of 30-yards or more. Through 7 games this season a forced Auburn turnover has been worth 4.2 points, while an Auburn turnover has been worth only .8 points for the opponent. War Eagle!
  21. With Auburn having a significant statistical edge in the running game coming into the TAMU game, it will be vital for Auburn's personnel to execute well this Saturday. Generating explosive plays will be essential, so Auburn needs their RB's to have a good game. Corey Grant comes into the game, averaging 10-yards per rush on his 33 carries. He has recorded 11 runs of 10-yards or more this season. On this play Auburn faces a 2nd & 7 from their own 49-yard line. Before the play, the Auburn offense huddles, with the backfield remaining in a huddle as the remainder of the team lines up for the snap. The purpose of this delay is to prevent the opposing defense from obtaining a presnap read on the play. When the backfield finally breaks from the huddle, the Tigers have Jeremy Johnson in the shotgun aligned by Jay Prosch to his immediate left, with Corey Grant & Quan Bray in a slot position to left of Prosch. At the snap, Grant motions towards Johnson as Jeremy Johnson pump-fakes a screen pass to Quan Bray with an empty hand. As Johnson carries out the pump-fake with an empty hand, he is handing off the ball to Corey Grant, moving left to right on a sweep-action. The pump-fake has the defense flowing towards the screen for a brief moment as Grant is now speeding to the opposite side with the football in hand. Jay Prosch is now the lead blocker on the play and he takes out the OLB on the wide side of the field to give Grant the corner. By the time Corey Grant hits the sideline, he is running at full speed and untouched for a 51-yard touchdown run.
  22. One player to watch out for this Saturday against Texas A&M is Ricardo Louis. The coaching staff has been utilizing him in a similar role as they did Terrelll Zachery during 2009 and 2010. With his size and speed, Louis can make impact plays in the passing as well as the running game. He enters the game with 21 offensive touches, averaging 8.2 yards per play. He has produced 8 first downs from his minimal touches. On this play, Auburn will run their speed-sweep option play with Jeremy Johnson and Ricardo Louis. Ricardo Louis comes into the backfield from right to left just before the snap. Jeremy Johnson will read the DE, who elects to stay at home for the inside running play. Johnson hands off to Louis, who will continue sweeping left. Jay Prosch and Cameron Artis-Payne lead the way for Louis, taking out the 2 LB's on the wide side of the field, which opens up the corner for Louis. Trovon Reed kicks out the CB, which gives Louis the sideline to operate down field. The play picks up 30-yards with Quan Bray making a key block further down field, which doesn't appear in the images above. Though Louis is only averaging 3.5 touches per game, he will have opportunities to make impact plays for the Auburn offense on screens, deep passes, speed-sweeps and end around plays.
  23. It appears Tre Mason might be separating himself from Cameron Artis-Payne to become the primary RB but CAP will still be a major component of Auburn's running game. Coach Gus Malzahn believes in having a trio of backs in the playing rotation in order to keep his ground game fresh as the game progresses. Though he only had 7 carries against LSU this past Saturday, CAP averaged 5.9 yards per carry. On this play Auburn has a 1st &10 at the LSU 12-yard line set to run their zone-read play. Cameron Artis-Payne is in at RB. At the snap, Nick Marshall reads the DE, who is playing the quarterback so Marshall hands off to CAP. Cameron Artis-Payne takes the hand off and cuts back to his right. Patrick Miller drives the DE inside to give CAP the edge as Quan Bray seals the OLB. When CAP first took the hand off, he took 1 step inside before cutting back to his right, which had LSU's front-7 initially reacting to an inside run. Once CAP gets to the edge, Brandon Fulse makes a good kick-out block on the CB, clearing a path to the end zone for Artis-Payne. Cameron scores on a 12-yard run made possible by Auburn winning the line of scrimmage and possessing solid blocking on the perimeter. Brandon Fulse will likely play a major role in the offense from this point on with the loss of Jaylon Denson.
  24. 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.
  25. Coming into the season Auburn lacked proven experience at the WR position and the coaching staff counted on Quan Bray to step up being a veteran player. He came into the Mississippi State game with 47 career offensive touches but had yet to record an offensive play of 30-yards or more. On this play Auburn faces a 3rd & 7 from their own 24-yard line, coming out in a 4-WR set. Quan Bray is lined up at the bottom (out of view in frame #1), with 1 on 1 coverage by the corner. At the snap, Nick Marshall mishandles the snap and the CB can be seen looking back into the backfield at this moment. For whatever reason (possibly Marshall's fumble), the CB failed to cover Bray running a deep sideline route. Because MSU rushed only 3, Marshall had time to recover the loose ball and roll to his left. He delivers a slightly under thrown pass, which Bray catches. Bray avoids the diving tackle by the safety, racing to the end zone for a 76-yard TD play. It is currently the longest play from scrimmage this season and hopefully not the last "big" play by Quan Bray.