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  1. Tied 17-17 in the Fourth Quarter in that crap town college station. A&M just scores to tie it up.
  2. From 2000-2012, SEC teams have combined for an efficiency rating of 129.2. During Malzahn's 4 seasons as an OC in the SEC, his pass-offenses had an efficiency rating of 142.8. That's very impressive, when you consider how many quarterbacks account for that overall rating (good & bad). Imagine how efficient it would be with a returning starter in place, which he has never had at the collegiate level. For the most part, if Auburn can run the football, they will have a consistent pass-offense to compliment it. 54 games as an OC in the SEC and his offense ran for 170-yards or more 39 times with a combined pass-rating of 146.2. In the 15 remaining games under 170-yards rushing, his pass-offense had an efficiency rating of 134.2, still higher than the SEC standard of 129.2. Fans like to debate the complexity of Malzahn's pass-offense or the lack there of but I look at the "bottom line". Does it work? The above numbers is a resounding, "yes". We all know the offensive edge will be built primarily around tempo, so in theory, the schemes need to be simple for the most part to allow better efficiency. There are enough moving parts, motion and play-action to generate confusion on the part of the opposing defense as long as there is consistent "execution" to go along with the tempo. Malzahn has been very good at personnel utilization in his 7 previous seasons as a collegiate coach, when it comes to offense. Looking at this season's personnel lineup, makes the likely focus on OL, RB, TE and FB. At the end of the season, I think we will see 65-67% run in terms of offensive snaps. I don't see Auburn throwing the ball more than 25 times during a game unless it's required by situation. Of course this doesn't mean the pass-offense cannot be efficient or explosive. Personally, I want a pass-offense built around quality and not quantity.
  3. Dangit, I'm ready for this season to get started. I know I'm about 3-1/2 hours premature on this, but let's start talking about a game we can watch today! The *other* SEC-ACC matchup of the weekend. Anyone leaving work early to see the season kick off? Anyone dying to see anything in particular from this game? I have lots of SC and NC ties in my family, so it's of interest to me. GO!
  4. 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!
  5. The Wisconsin defense has been very solid all year up until the B10 Championship. Despite their major beat down at the hands of the Buckeyes, the Badger defense is still No. 4 in total-defense. Some of their success on defense has to do with the caliber of offenses Wisconsin faced but they did hold their opponent to 23 percent below their yardage average for the season. One area Auburn should be able to exploit is the Badger pass-defense. The Wisconsin pass-defense is No. 108 nationally allowing big pass-plays (25+) every 12.4 pass attempts. The Auburn pass-offense is No. 7 nationally in generating big pass-plays every 9.7 pass attempts. The play... Against Alabama, Auburn faced a very good defense that was exceptional against the run. Gus Malzahn's plan of attack was to challenge the UAT secondary deep, which often played man-coverage. The plan was solid and the Auburn offense did a very good job executing the game plan. Nick Marshall was 6 of 9, throwing the ball deep for 272-yards and 2 touchdowns. On this play Auburn faces a 2nd & 12 from the UAT 34-yd line. Auburn comes out in a 4-WR with Sammie Coates and Duke Williams split on the boundary side. Nick Marshall will play-action with Cameron Artis-Payne, while reading the boundary safety. Coates and Williams break off the line, running vertical routes. Williams will cut inside on a deep square-in, while Coates runs a fly-route. The boundary safety commits to Williams over the middle, leaving Coates 1 on 1 with the corner. Marshall delivers a perfectly thrown ball that Coates is able to haul in for the touchdown. Play #2: This is basically the same play, though circumstances are different. Auburn faces a 2nd & 3 from their own 32-yard line with under 1:30 remaining in the first-half. Once again Auburn comes out in a 4-WR set with Coates and Williams aligned to the boundary side. At the snap, the two WR's run vertical routes with the boundary safety committing to the deep pass over the middle (Williams). Once again, Sammie Coates has the corner beat 1 on 1 and Marshall hangs a deep ball that Coates is able to run under for the touchdown.
  6. Through 10 games Cameron Artis-Payne has 1,276-yards rushing, averaging 5.59 yards per rush. Through the same number of games last season, Tre Mason had 1,038-yards on 5.73 yards per attempt. CAP has 22 plays of 15-yards or more this season compared to Mason's 13 through the same number of games. Against the Georgia Bulldogs Cameron Artis-Payne was held to just 86-yards rushing, though the senior RB had a 28-yard run called back on a holding penalty. CAP has been the most consistent performer on offense this season and currently leads the conference in rushing with two games remaining in the regular season. The play... During a moment of HUNH mode, Auburn runs their buck-sweep with a 1st & 10 at the Georgia 26-yard line. At the snap Devonte Danzey and Chad Slade pull to their right as Ricardo Louis crack-backs on the ILB to help seal the edge. CAP takes the inside hand off from Nick Marshall, sweeping right behind his pulling guards. CAP allows his guards to open up a hole before he accelerates down the sideline. In frame #4, CAP dips his left shoulder to make himself a smaller target before he breaks towards the sideline. The play results in a 26-yard touchdown, the tenth of the season for the senior running back.
  7. Through 9 games Cameron Artis-Payne has 1190-yards rushing, exceeding the pace of Tre Mason's All-American season in 2013. Mason had 921-yards through 9 games in 2013 and both backs averaged 5.72 yards per rush up through 9 games. CAP averages a 10-yard run or better every 6.1 carries compared to Mason's ratio of 1 every 7.3 attempts. It will be difficult for CAP to close out the season as Mason did in 2013 but it doesn't change the fact CAP is on pace for a very special season of his own. He is currently on pace for a 1,700-yard plus season through 13 games. The senior running back has totaled 5,212 rushing yards during his collegiate career with 58 rushing touchdowns. His 1190-yards through 9 games is the third best mark by an Auburn player, through 9 games into the season. His 132.2 yards per game is behind Bo Jackson's 169.2 average in 1985 and Rudi Johnson's 137.6 yards per game in 2000. He is currently the No. 10 rusher in the country and No. 1 in the Southeastern Conference. He becomes stronger as the game progresses, averaging 5.26 yards per rush in the first quarter and 6.60 yards per carry during the fourth quarter. He has saved his best performances for conference play, averaging 149.8 yards against SEC defenses. While at Auburn he has 13 career games of 10-carries or more, averaging 115-yards per game during those 13 contests. He has led Auburn in rushing 12 times despite this being his only starting season. During those 12 games, CAP has averaged 126.5 yards per game on 6.15 yards per rush. His 126.5 average is the 4th best among Auburn RB's, who led Auburn in rushing at least 10 times during their career. He currently has 20 impact plays on the season, just 3 short of Tre Mason's 23 during the entire 2013 season. Cameron Artis-Payne has at least 4 games remaining in his collegiate career and will make the most of his remaining opportunities. It has been the story of his career, making the most of his opportunities. He had no major scholarship offers coming out of high school and elected to give up on football for one year after high school. He then enrolled into Junior College to give it one more try, working diligently to be recruited by Auburn as a JUCO player. I don't recall another RB in the SEC that was not offered a scholarship coming out of high school that would eventually lead the SEC in rushing, while becoming one of the top backs in the country. War CAP Eagle!
  8. Reflecting back to the Tuberville era, I was always concerned with teams that were physical. Basically it was teams that could run the football and play well on run-defense. The following numbers support this theory... From 2000-2008, Auburn compiled a record of 13-10 vs. FBS teams with a combination of a top-40 run-offense and top-40 run-defense. When Auburn faced teams that were not top-40 run-offense and top-40 run-defense, the Tigers went 42-5. Looking at the years Gus Malzahn has coached the Auburn offense, the concern becomes teams that can pass the ball and play solid run-defense. Look at the data from 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014... When Auburn has faced teams with a top-40 pass-efficiency offense and top-40 run-defense combined, the Tigers are 6-6. When they have faced FBS opponents that were ranked below top-40 pass-offense and top-40 run-defense, Auburn is 22-4. During this same time frame, Auburn is 10-7 vs. top-25 pass-efficiency offenses, allowing an average of 37 PPG. The Tigers are 32-5 vs. FBS opponents with a run-defense ranked below top-40, averaging 46 PPG. Alabama is the only remaining opponent on this year's schedule that falls under top-40 pass-efficiency offense and top-40 run-defense. Alabama is currently No. 3 in PE-Offense and No. 2 vs. the run. Georgia is close to it, ranked No. 28 in PE-Offense and No. 49 vs. the run. Thoughts?
  9. With Gus Malzahn leading the Auburn offense, the Tigers have competed in 39 conference games. The offense has averaged 430-yards and 32 PPG in conference play. Auburn during this time frame has scored 30 or more points, 21 times with a 21-0 record, when they do so. Despite scoring 30 or more points in conference play 21 times, 9 of those game have been settled by 8 points or less (42.8%). Auburn is 4-5 in conference play, when Malzahn's offense scores 20-29 points during a game. From 2003-2008, Auburn went 12-5 in conference play, scoring 20-28 points. It would be nice for the team to be able to lean on the defense occasionally during low-scoring games like this. From 2003-2008 (49 SEC games), Auburn allowed the opponent to score into the 30's, 6 times or 12.2%. From 2009-2014 (47 SEC games), the opponent has scored at least 30 points, 22 times or 46.8%. One could argue the SEC has become more of an offensive league during the past 5-6 years (which is true) but not to the extent of failing to hold SEC teams under 30 points at least 25% of the time. It should be noted the SEC offenses faced from 2003-2008, averaged 359-yards per game. The SEC offenses faced from 2009-2014 have averaged 413-yards per game. Of the SEC offenses faced from 2003-2008, only 18.6% of the 49 teams averaged over 400-yards per game for the season. The conference opponents faced from 2009-2014, averaged over 400-yards, 57.4% of the time. This leaves no doubt Auburn has faced better offensive teams as of late. We have seen a championship level offense in 2010, 2013 and 2014. The same cannot be said about the defense from 2009-2014. Yes, the defense has been strong in certain phases of the game but overall the final product has been lacking. Strength of schedule should be considered too. From 2003-2008, Auburn faced ranked SEC teams 42.8% of the time with an overall win pct of .583. From 2009-2014 Auburn has faced ranked SEC opponents 57.4% of the time, with an overall win pct of .660. It will be interesting to see what direction Gus Malzahn takes Auburn regarding defense. As an offensive coach, he certainly places a high premium on offense but as the head coach, he is responsible for all phases of the game. This is not a complaint about his vision or direction for the team (too early in career to say) but I am curious to what his defensive philosophy might be as a head coach. Thoughts?
  10. 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.
  11. D'haquille Williams clearly lived up to all the preseason hype, catching 9 passes for 154-yards against the Razorbacks. He led all offensive players with 5 impact plays or plays of 15-yards or more. He became only the 4th Auburn WR to record at least 5 impact plays during a game against a conference opponent from 1992-2014. The play... On this play Auburn faces a 3rd & 6 from the Razorback 18-yard line. The Tigers come out in a 4-WR set with D'haquille Williams lined up in the slot on the wide-side of the field. Arkansas responds with a nickel package and their safeties playing deep off the line. This opens up the middle of the field for a quick slant, which Auburn executes with Williams. As soon as Jeremy Johnson takes the snap, he immediately fires his pass to Williams, who cuts inside the nickel corner. By the time the safety arrives into view, Williams already has made the first down, headed towards the Razorback endzone. Williams fights through both DB's and extends his upper body and ball over the goal line for his first touchdown as an Auburn Tiger. D'haquille Williams will be a nightmare to cover in the slot this season but expect Malzahn and Lashlee to move him around to create other mismatches on the field. Prior 5-play impact performances against SEC teams... 1995 Tyrone Goodson - Ole Miss 1996 Tyrone Goodson - Miss State 1997 Tyrone Goodson - LSU 1997 Tyrone Goodson - Ole Miss 2009 Darvin Adams - Miss State 2012 Emory Blake - Georgia
  12. Will Auburn improve upon run-defense in 2014? It needs to for Auburn to make another championship run. Last season was the Year of the Quarterback in the SEC. I believe this season could be the Year of the Running Back in the conference. During the 125 games under Tommy Tuberville, Auburn's defense allowed over 200-yards rushing on 11 occasions or 1 every 11.4 games. During the 66 games since Tuberville left Auburn, the defense has allowed over 200-yards rushing, 23 times or 1 every 2.9 games. Auburn was 11-12 in those 23 games. During the last 25 conference games, Auburn has allowed an average of 204.4 yards rushing on 5.08 yards per attempt. National Rankings in Run-Defense over past 25 years.... 1989: 20th 1990: 21st 1991: 48th 1992: 11th 1993: 21st 1994: 17th 1995: 49th 1996: 32nd 1997: 22nd 1998: 19th 1999: 15th 2000: 15th 2001: 42nd 2002: 46th 2003: 7th 2004: 12th 2005: 22nd 2006: 45th 2007: 29th 2008: 54th 2009: 78th 2010: 9th 2011: 94th 2012: 97th 2013: 62nd It appears 2008 was the first season the run-defense began to truly slip, failing to recover except for 1 season. It's difficult to become a consistent or dominant defense without having a solid run-defense. From 1990-2013 Auburn has compiled a record of 138-32-2 (.808), when holding opponent to under 140-yards rushing.
  13. Last season placed Auburn back into the national picture but only continued success at this highest level will create the "perception" of being an elite program. Consider the percentage of seasons Auburn had with a win percentage of .750 or better... 1950-1959: 30.0% - 1 SEC Title 1960-1969: 20.0% 1970-1979: 40.0% 1980-1989: 60.0% - 4 SEC Ttiles 1990-1999: 30.0% 2000-2009: 30.0% - 1 SEC Title 2010-2013: 50.0% - 2 SEC Titles It is easy to see why the 1980's under Pat Dye is considered the most successful decade of Auburn football. This current decade has the potential to be as good as the 80's. The Big Six in the SEC: ( Pct of seasons of .750 or better 1990-2013) Florida ................. 62.5% *8 SEC Titles Alabama .............. 54.2% *4 LSU ..................... 50.0% *4 Tennessee ........... 50.0% *3 Georgia ............... 45.8% *2 Auburn ................ 33.3% *3 The Big Six in the SEC (2000-2013): LSU ..................... 71.4% * 4 SEC Titles Alabama .............. 57.1% *2 Florida ................ 50.0% *3 Georgia .............. 50.0% *2 Auburn ................ 35.7% *3 Tennessee ........... 21.4% *0 Though Florida had a horrible season last year, a 10-win season in 2014 gets them back in the media spotlight immediately because of their history over the past 24 seasons. Alabama is basking in the spotlight under Nick Saban, who has won 4 MNC's since arriving in the SEC. Alabama is currently on a six-year run of 10-wins or more, which is why they are so highly ranked entering the 2014 season. Voters will give Alabama and Nick Saban the benefit of the doubt based on their recent success. Keep in mind it is much easier for reporters and members of the media to write and report on teams that are successful than researching the teams that are about to make their runs of success. Even LSU without Nick Saban has maintained their national presence in the world of college football because of their success under Les Miles. Les Miles has led LSU to a MNC and two conference titles since taking over the program. Despite not winning a MNC, Mark Richt and Georgia tend to receive positive media attention. The Bulldogs went 8-5 last season (finished unranked) and lost their most productive QB but are ranked No. 12 in the preseason Coaches Poll (2014). This is likely built upon their ability to post .750 seasons at a 50% clip over the past 14 seasons. Over the past 5 seasons UGA has compiled a 4-13 record against teams that won 75% of their games and are 2-3 in bowl games. Their last conference championship was in 2005.
  14. Keys to a championship season... Talent: Auburn might not be the most talented team in the SEC but they have recruited well enough to be in the nation's top-15, if not top-10. The key in this category will be player development, which is too early to tell under Malzahn's staff. It appears they are off to a good start. Auburn is in good shape entering the 2014 season. Depth: In this day & age of college football, very few teams are stocked with depth across the board. Each team tends to have a few issues at certain positions, when it comes to "quality" depth. The key IMO, is having quality depth up front on both sides of the line. Auburn for the most part, appears to be in good shape coming into the 2014 season. Experience: Over the past decade, experience has played a major role in Auburn being successful on the field. I have applied the "20-10 rule", which is having at least 20 players with 20 games of experience, including at least 10 players with 30-games of experience. Over the past decade, Auburn has compiled a win pct. of .894 during seasons when the 20-10 rule applied and a win pct. of .524, when the Tigers failed to reach it. This includes a record of 19-2 in close games during seasons, when the 20-10 rule applied and 12-13, when it did not. Auburn enters the 2014 season with a "22-15" roster. Quarterback: Behind almost every championship team is quality and consistent play at the QB position. The return of Nick Marshall is a huge advantage for the Tigers, as he will be the highest rated starting QB returning in the SEC. He has already led Auburn to one championship season and is poised to pick up, where he left off in 2013. Don't get caught up in quarterback comparisons across the nation. All that matters is what Marshall means to the Auburn offense. The offense will be centered around the rising senior and for good reasons. The key here is Marshall actually improved as the 2013 season progressed, despite the schedule becoming more difficult. Auburn is in excellent shape here for 2014. Coaching: Personnel development, game planning and game-day coaching is always huge. Player development remains a question mark, primarily because this is only the second season under Malzahn's staff. We witnessed good things during 2013, when it came to game planning and game-day coaching. Auburn's 2014 schedule will certainly be a major challenge for the Auburn coaching staff in 2014. Injuries: This is a crucial area, Auburn's staff or any other staff won't ever possess total control of. Conditioning is essential here but even great conditioning will not prevent knee injuries, concussions or broken bones. The Tigers are already feeling the effect of injuries and the season has yet to start. This almost always has a trickle-down effect on depth and player development. Luck: Every championship team needs a few breaks along the way, especially when it comes to close ball games. From 2000-2013, over 1/3 of the conference games in the SEC have been decided by 7-pts or less. Having the ball bounce your way more than not, can make or break a championship season. Of course luck can sometimes be defined as, "When preparation and effort come together". In other words, good teams can generate their own luck at times. I thought Malzahn's staff was very successful in obtaining the most from their existing talent and personnel. Schedule: Of the categories listed above, this might be the one that makes or breaks Auburn's drive to another championship season. The second half of the season will be brutal for the Auburn Tigers. Beginning in the month of October, Auburn could close out the season, facing 10 of 11 opponents at the FBS level with winning records, in order to win it all. Of those 10 games, seven will be on the road. This is a major challenge for any team, regardless of their talent level. Overall, Auburn could very well be a better team than 2013, yet still have 2-3 losses in 2014. Thoughts?
  15. 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.
  16. With the personnel (OL and RB's) returning for 2014, Auburn should have the capability of fielding another top-10 run-offense. During Gus Malzahn's previous eight seasons at the collegiate level, five of his run-offenses finished in the nation's top-15 and 4 finished in the top-10. Though Rhett Lashlee and Gus Malzahn will strive for continued improvement in the pass-offense this season, it will not change Malzahn's approach to being a run-first offense. History Notes: Over the past 8 seasons, Malzahn's run-offense has averaged 236.4 yards rushing per game on 5.39 yards per attempt. The national average during that same time period is 162.9 yards per game on 4.30 yards per rush. Malzahn has a record of 43-7, with at least 45 rush attempts during a game. Malzahn is 55-8, when his offense runs the ball at least 60% of the time. Malzahn is 58-11, when rushing for at least 200-yards during a game. While at Auburn, Malzahn's run-offense has averaged 253.9 yards per game on 5.56 yards per attempt. During the same time period, the SEC averaged 175.9 yards per game on 4.57 yards per attempt. At Auburn, Malzahn is 26-4 with at least 45 rush attempts. Auburn is 30-7, when rushing the ball 60% of the time. Auburn is 33-6 with at least 200-yards rushing during a game. Record setting running game... Rating every run-offense in the SEC from 1960-2013, the 2010 Auburn run-offense finished at No. 8 over the past 54 years. The 2013 Auburn run-offense is the #2 run-offense during the past 5 decades. This rating was based on yards per game, yards per attempt and touchdown ratio. Malzahn's run-offense at Arkansas (2006) finished at No. 43 and his 2009 Auburn run-offense was No. 93 among the 598 teams compared. Rating the SEC run-offenses from 1992-2013, Malzahn's run-offenses finished at No. 1 in 2013, No. 2 in 2010, No. 10 in 2006, No. 30 in 2009 and No. 77 in 2011 among the 268 teams compared. The numbers compiled during the 2010 and 2013 seasons is a testament to having a dual-threat quarterback. It truly takes the run-offense to a different level. Efficiency of Malzahn's run-offense: 4782 carries over the past 8 seasons. 1323 first downs compiled. 853 run plays of at least 10-yards. 217 run plays of at least 20-yards. Over the past 8 seasons, 28% of Malzahn's running plays resulted in a first down. The national average during the same time period was 23%. Of the 4782 carries, 18% resulted in a 10-yard gain or better. The national average is 13%. His run-offense generated a 20-yard gain or better 5% of the time, while the national average was 3.5%. During the 2013 Auburn's run-offense produced a first down, 31.4% of the time, a run-play of at least 10-yards 20.2% of the time and a run-play of at least 20-yards, 5.8% of the time. Even with the departure of Tre Mason, Auburn has personnel returning who combined for an average of 194.1 yards per game during 2013. The addition of Peyton Barber and Racean Thomas, should help offset the loss of Mason. Auburn might not possess the No. 1 run-offense by the end of the 2014 season but a top-5 finish would not be a stretch and a top-10 finish is likely a given barring any major injuries.
  17. The following is a breakdown of offensive football within the Southeastern Conference. 1960-1969: 269.3 YPG / 4.23 YPP / 63.7 snaps per game / TD every 30.7 snaps / Run Pct: 69.6% 149.4 yards rushing per game and 120.0 yards passing per game. Ole Miss & Georgia led conference in total offense 4 times each. LSU led conference in rushing 4 times, Ole Miss 3 times. Alabama led conference in pass-efficiency 5 times, Ole Miss 3 times. Average Pass-efficiency rating for decade: 101.2 _______________________________________ 1970-1979: 331.1 YPG / 4.71 YPP / 70.4 snaps per game / TD every 27.1 snaps / Run Pct: 74.2% 211.3 yards rushing per game and 119.7 yards passing per game. Alabama led conference in total offense 5 times, Auburn twice. Alabama led conference in rushing 7 times. Alabama led conference in pass-efficiency 7 times. Average Pass-efficiency rating for decade: 104.9 _______________________________________ 1980-1989: 355.3 YPG / 5.05 YPP / 70.3 snaps per game / TD every 26.7 snaps / Run Pct: 64.7% 183.4 yards rushing per game and 171.8 yards passing per game. Auburn led conference in total offense 3 times, Alabama twice. Georgia led conference in rushing 4 times, Auburn 3 times. Florida led conference in pass-efficiency 3 times, Georgia & LSU 2 times each. Average Pass-efficiency rating for decade: 116.2 _______________________________________ 1990-1999: 360.9 YPG / 5.26 YPP / 68.6 snaps per game / TD every 23.9 snaps / Run Pct: 58.1% 155.7 yards rushing per game and 205.2 yards passing per game. Florida, Georgia and Tennessee led conference in total offense 3 times each. Tennessee led conference in rushing 4 times, LSU 2 times. Florida led conference in pass-efficiency 5 times, Kentucky and Georgia 2 times each. Average Pass-efficiency rating for decade: 122.9 _______________________________________ 2000-2009: 367.6 YPG / 5.48 YPP / 67.1 snaps per game / TD every 21.9 snaps / Run Pct: 55.7% 155.9 yards rushing per game and 211.6 yards passing per game. Florida led conference in total offense 6 times. Arkansas led conference in rushing 5 times, Miss State 2 times. Florida led conference in pass-efficiency 5 times, Georgia 2 times. Average Pass-efficiency rating for decade: 126.7 _______________________________________ 2010-2013: 399.0 YPG / 5.91 YPP / 67.5 snaps per game / TD every 19.0 snaps / Run Pct: 57.1% 176.0 yards rushing per game and 223.0 yards passing per game. Texas A&M led conference in total offense 2 times, Auburn and Arkansas once each. Auburn led conference in rushing 2 times out of 4 seasons. Auburn, Arkansas, Alabama and Texas A&M led conference in pass-efficiency. Average Pass-efficiency rating for decade: 138.1
  18. I found the following data interesting... 1980-1989: During the decade before Steve Spurrier arrived at Florida, SEC teams averaged 183.6 yards rushing per game with 38% of the teams averaging over 200-yards rushing for the season. 1990-1992: During the first 3 years with Spurrier at Florida, rushing averages dipped to 175.6 yards per game with 34.3% of the SEC teams averaging over 200-yards rushing per game during the season. 1993-1995: Six years into the Spurrier era at UF and SEC teams are averaging 162.9 yards rushing per game with only 13.9% of the teams averaging over 200-yards rushing per game. 1996-2000: During the final 5 years with Spurrier at UF, rushing averages dropped to 139.2 yards per game with only 5% of the teams averaging over 200-yards rushing per game. The offensive game had evolved on it's own but Spurrier clearly made a major impact on the conference in not only style of play but recruiting. Teams quickly went from 3-yards and a cloud of dust to opening up their offenses. His high scoring offenses forced opponents out of their run-offenses. Speedy and athletic back 7's on defense became more important to compete with Spurrier's offense and others who elected to pass more often. 2001-2003: During the first 3 years with Spurrier gone from the SEC, rushing averages increased to 158.8 yards per game with 13.9% of the teams averaging over 200-yards rushing per game. 2007-2009: SEC teams averaged 163.8 yards rushing per game with 22.2% averaging more than 200-yards rushing per game. How much of an impact has Gus Malzahn had on the league? IMO, he has made a slight impact but not to the degree of Spurrier at this point. From 2009-2013, SEC teams are now averaging 175.9 yards rushing per game with 25% averaging over 200-yards rushing per game. Even Coach Spurrier has adjusted his style of offense since returning to the league at South Carolina. He wanted to throw the ball his first couple of years at USCe but quickly adjusted his offense to a more ball-control styled offense. The Ole Ball Coach is winning with a running game and defense. Spurrier's teams at UF averaged 142.0 yards rushing per game on 34 attempts per game. During his first 5 years at USCe, Spurrier's teams averaged 114.0 yards rushing on 32 attempts per game. During his last 4 seasons at USCe, his run-offense has averaged 170.5 yards per game on 40 attempts per game. Last season was the Year of the Quarterback in the SEC, which could change to the Year of the Running back in 2014. Six of the top SEC quarterbacks are gone from last season, which could open up the running lanes this upcoming year. Teams will likely be more dependent upon their running games, while breaking in a new starter at QB. The game has evolved too much for the SEC to start running the ball 45 times per game as they did during the decade of the 80's. We are seeing great quarterback play and development in the conference, like we've never seen before. For this reason teams will keep their offenses wide open or balanced but I do believe coaches are seeing the value of the running game again as well as the need to defend it. It will be interesting to see how much Malzahn will influence the style of play as the years pass on. Edit Note: Spuirrier was at UF from 1990-2001, but it doesn't change the above data by much.
  19. The following is based on recruiting data from Recruiting from 2002-2006: 26.6% of the recruits signed by SEC teams were 4 & 5 star players. The Pac-10 was closed behind at 24.9%. The SEC averaged 6.5 players rated as 4 & 5 stars being signed per SEC program. The Pac-10 was second with an average of 5.6 players. 48.3% of the 60 SEC teams during the 5-year period finished with a top-20 class. The second best conference in this regard was the ACC at 30.8%. 6 different SEC teams finished in the top-20 in at least 3 of the 5 years. The Big-12 was second with 4 different teams. Recruiting from 2009-2013: 33.1% of the recruits signed by SEC schools were rated as 4-5 stars. The Pac-12 was 2nd at 22.8%. The average number of 4-5 star recruits increased to 8.2 per SEC teams each season. The Pac-12 was No. 2 again but dropped from 5.6 to 5.2. The number of top-20 finishes by SEC teams increased from 48.3 percent to 60.9 percent from 2009-2013. The Pac-12 was 2nd nationally at 32.1%. 8 different SEC teams finished in the top-20 in at least 3 of the 5 years. The ACC and Pac-12 were tied for No. 2 with only 3 teams. The separation between the SEC and the remaining conferences has truly widen, explaining why the SEC has become so dominant in the national championship hunt.
  20. During the past season, there was only 20 times SEC defenses held a conference opponent to under 300-yards in offense. This meant that SEC offenses were held under 300-yards in offense in 17.5% of their conference games. Of the 20 conference games, a team was held under 300-yards, Alabama and Florida were responsible for 9. Five teams in the SEC including Auburn, failed to record a game, holding a conference opponent under 300-yards. From 2000-2012, 32.4% of SEC teams were held to under 300-yards in conference play, making 2013 the lowest output (17.5%) from 2000-2013. The previous low was in 2010 at 24.7%. Based on the loss of 6 top QB's from 2013, I would expect the defensive numbers to improve in 2014. There were (98) 200-yard rushing performances by SEC teams this past year, which was the most in the league during the time frame of1992-2013. Look for offenses around the league to be more reliant upon their running games in 2014 as half the teams will be breaking in a new starter at quarterback. IMO, the addition of Texas A&M and Missouri to the SEC brought 2 more explosive offenses and 2 limited defenses. This would also explain the league defensive numbers for 2013.
  21. From 2007-2013, 33.2 percent of the passes attempted by the top-100 quarterbacks from each season resulted in a first down or touchdown. During the 2013 season, 29.7 percent of Nick Marshall's pass attempts resulted in a first down or touchdown. He ranked 87th among the top-100 quarterbacks in this category. In comparison, 42.1 percent of Cam Newton's pass attempts resulted in a first down or touchdown during the 2010 season. Newton ranked No. 6among the top-100 QB's during the 2010 season. It should be noted 33.7 percent of Marshall's rush attempts resulted in a first down or TD, ranking him 7th among the top-100 rushers during the 2013 season. Around the SEC.... Six QB's from the SEC finished in the nation's top-25 in this productivity ranking: Zach Mettenberger (LSU) ........... No. 1 (46.3%) Johnny Manziel (TAMU) .............. No. 4 (42.9%) A.J. McCarron (Ala) ................... No. 13 (38.7%) Aaron Murray (UGA) ................... No. 14 (38.6%) Conner Shaw (USC) ................... No. 17 (37.7%) James Franklin (MZU) ................. No. 24 (36.4%) If Auburn is to obtain more balance within their offense in 2014, Nick Marshall will need to become more productive in the passing game. Raising his level of "productivity" to a top-25 level might be too much to expect but if he does, the 2014 Auburn offense could become the best in school history. The top-25 level from 2007-2013 has been 38.4%.
  22. During the 4 seasons under Gus Malzahn, the Auburn run-offense has become the dominant running game in the conference. Sorting the SEC rushing numbers during 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013, Auburn... 1) Leads the conference in 200-yard rushing games with 39 out of 54 games. Alabama is second behind Auburn. Auburn's 39 games of 200-yards or more accounts for nearly 1/4 of the 200-yard games totaled by the entire conference during the 4-year period. 2) Leads the conference with 42 individual performances of 100-yards rushing, followed by Alabama. 3) Has averaged 253.9 yards per game under Malzahn at 5.56 yards per carry. Alabama is second in the conference during the same time period with 204.7 yards per game on 5.33 yards per rush.
  23. Cameron Artis-Payne has been a quality No. 2 RB in the Auburn offense this year, making the most of his 90 carries on the season. The junior-college transfer is currently averaging 6.8 yards per rush and 1/3 of his carries have resulted in a first-down or touchdown this season. He has produced 20 rushes of 10-yards or more and 6 for 20-yards or more. On this play Auburn has a 3rd & 3 at the Missouri 36-yard line. Cameron Artis-Payne checks in to spell Tre Mason. Auburn will run their read-option as Missouri counters with a run-blitz. At the snap Nick Marshall reads the DE, who is playing the perimeter, so Marshall makes the inside give to Artis-Payne. Greg Robinson and Alex Kozan folds the DT's inside, creating a huge running lane for CAP through the "C" gap. Artis-Payne bursts through the gaping hole, picking up 21-yards and an Auburn first down. On the next snap, CAP scores on a 15-yard TD run. Facing a 1st & 10 from the Mizzu 15-yard line, Auburn elects to run inside once again with Cameron Artis-Payne. It's virtually the same play but CAP runs through the "A" gap. Like the play before, the DE plays the outside keep by the quarterback, so Nick Marshall makes the inside give to Artis-Payne. With the LB playing over top, CAP elects to take the "A" gap behind Reese Dismukes. Ricardo Louis slides down from his slot position to pick up a LB, leaving CAP 1 on 1 with the safety. CAP makes an initial cut as if he is going to Ricardo's right shoulder and cuts back inside to Ricardo's left shoulder. The lateral movement pulls the safety out of position, giving CAP clear sailing to the Mizzu end zone for the score. Cameron Artis-Payne might not be as quick as Tre Mason but he has terrific lateral movement. For the season, Auburn has converted an amazing 69% of their 3rd downs of 6-yards or less, running the football. Florida State has allowed their opponent to convert 57% of their 3rd downs of 6-yards or less, running the football.
  24. Rarely this season have opponents been able to put 8 and 9 men in the box against the Auburn offense. The primary look for the Auburn offense is a 3-WR set, which is normally defended with 7 in the box and at least 1 safety playing deep because of the concern of giving up a deep pass to Sammie Coates or Ricardo Louis. Sammie Coates currently leads the nation in his ratio of pass-plays of 25-yards or more. When teams began to cheat both safeties up for run-support, Gus Malzahn would often go to a 4-WR look. This almost always resulted in a 7 on 6 match up inside the box, favoring Auburn. On this play Auburn is 2nd & 6 from their own 28-yard line. Auburn comes out in a 4-WR look with trips to the left. Missouri responds with only 6 inside the box. Auburn is still able to run the read-option with Nick Marshall and Tre Mason. At the snap, Nick Marshall reads the DE playing the perimeter option, so he makes the inside give to Tre Mason. The DE on the opposite side is also playing wide, which allows Greg Robinson to drive him further outside, opening up a huge running lane through the "B" gap for Tre Mason. This leaves a 4 on 4 match up with Auburn's remaining OL against Mizzu's interior line and 2 LB's. The LB's are late in response because of the read-option and the threat of Marshall keeping outside. The OL creases the remaining front-5, which allows Mason to pop into the secondary very quickly. Tre Mason darts for a 21-yard gain and an Auburn first down.
  25. For the season Auburn has run the ball 72.3 percent of the time and hopefully this will hold true against Florida State. Auburn has been efficient throwing the football when they want to but have struggled throwing when they have to. Nick Marshall has converted 20 of 68 third-down situations (29.4%), throwing the football this season. He has converted 15 of 32, running the football (46.8%). If Auburn finishes the game with more than 45 rush attempts, it's probably a good sign but if Marshall is called upon to throw the football more than 25 times, it's probably bad news for the Tigers. On this play Auburn faces a 3rd & goal from inside the Missouri 8-yard line. The Tigers come out in a wildcat set with an unbalanced line. The play will be a play-action pass with Marshall having 2 pass-options on the play. Ricardo Louis will run a pass pattern out in the flat from the backfield and Brandon Fulse will release off the line, running a crossing route into the end zone. At the snap Nick Marshall will play-action with Tre Mason, who is coming on a speed-sweep look. After the play-action, Marshall will roll to his right, where he will connect with Louis in the flat. Ricardo Louis hauls in the short pass and makes it to inside the 1-yard line. The play doesn't convert but it does set up a short 4th & goal, which Auburn converts on the following play for a touchdown. Auburn needs to establish the run so that Nick Marshall can throw the football, when Auburn chooses and not when the defense dictates a passing situation for the Tigers. Rhett Lashlee has valuable time to work with his starting quarterback and to work out some key passing -situations and plays for the game, when Auburn MUST throw the football. Auburn's primary game-plan will obviously be centered around the read-option but it doesn't change the fact that Marshall will be called up to convert critical 3rd down plays during the game.