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Note on 3rd down Production

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Third down Comparison:

  • From 1990-2015, Auburn has compiled a record of 148-29-2 (.832) when they win the third-down battle with their opponent and a record of 63-74-1 (.460) when they don't.

  • Under Gus Malzahn's offense, Auburn is 43-6 (.877), when they win the third down battle and 14-17 (.451) when they don't.

  • Previously I noted the importance of production on first down. Logically the more productive Auburn is on first down; the more likely it translates to increased productivity on third down. Gus Malzahn's offense at Auburn has produced an average of 487-yards and 39 PPG when the Tigers convert at least 40 percent of their third down situations and 359-yards and 25 PPG when they don't.

  • On the flip side, the Auburn defense (1990-2015) has allowed an average of 306.8 yards and 17.7 points per game when holding their opponent to under 40 percent on third down and 394.3 yards and 25.6 points per game when they don't.

  • Over the past 26 seasons (1990-2015), the Auburn defense has held their opponent to 35.4 percent on third-down. With this being the statistical goal, it happened 55.1 percent of the time from 1990-2008 and only 38.0 percent from 2009-2015.

  • During Auburn's last 15 games, the Tigers have gone 7-8 and during the last 15 games, have won the third down battle only five times. The offense has reached a third-down conversion rate of 40 percent or better eight times while the defense has held the opponent to under 40 percent, six times. Only once did the offense and defense reach their third down goals during the same game.

  • During four of the past five seasons, Auburn has been placed into more third & long passing situations than the defense has forced the opponent. This past season was the worst from 2009-2015.

  • During the 2015 season, Auburn threw the football 101 times on third down. Of those 101 pass attempts, 62.4 percent were third and seven or longer situations. On the defensive side of the football, only 55.9 percent was the opponent throwing the football on a third and seven or longer situation.

  • Magnifying the situation was the percentage of conversions with third and seven or longer on the line. The 2015 Auburn pass-offense converted 28.5 percent while the defense allowed a conversion rate of 34.4 percent.

  • Overall, the 2015 Auburn pass-offense ranked No. 70 nationally in converting third-downs. The Auburn pass-defense was No. 88 in defending them.

  • For those skeptical of Nick Marshall or his development while at Auburn, consider the following. During the 2010 season, Auburn's pass offense converted 30.2 percent of their third and seven or longer situations. During 2013, Auburn converted 31.9 percent and 46.0 percent during 2014. The majority of focus regarding Auburn's offensive woes was placed on the quarterback situation. The loss of Sammie Coates and Duke Williams were losses the Auburn receiving corps could not overcome in 2015.


  • The 2015 Auburn offense actually increased their percentage of third & three or fewer situations compared to 2010, 2013 and 2014. The 2015 offense was in third & three or less 35.7 percent of the time while the 2010 offense was 34.6 percent, 34.4 percent in 2013 and 33.5 percent during 2014.

  • The difference once again was the conversion rate facing third and three or less. The 2010 offense converted 67.9 percent, 75.4 percent in 2013, 68.3 percent in 2014 and 57.8 percent during 2015. The drop off in third and short situations during 2015 must be addressed in 2016.

  • On the defensive side of the football, Auburn allowed the opponent to be in third and three or less 33.2 percent of the time, the second-highest percentage of third and short situations by an Auburn defense from 2009-2015. The opponent converted 57.6 percent of those third and short situations during 2015, the worst conversion rate in the past four seasons.


  • Auburn's defense inability to get off the field promptly was the primary issue on defense. Not only did they struggle in third & short, but they also were burned in third & long situations. The opponent converted third & ten or longer 25.0 percent of the time during 2015, compared to 21.3 percent in 2014, 14.3 percent in 2013 and 10.3 percent during 2012.

  • The 2016 Auburn defense should project to be strong on the defensive line and secondary should they remain healthy. The question mark will be at the linebacker position.


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The part about "During four of the past five seasons, Auburn has been placed into more third & long passing situations than the defense has forced the opponent. This past season was the worst from 2009-2015."

Cannot be a good thing for any team trying to win games.

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