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WDE_OxPx_2010

Looking ahead to 2018 RBs

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Martin's burst through the gaps is super exciting to watch. It seemed like every time we put him in he got 6+ yards on his first carry and it was usually right up the middle. I'm praying we see way more of him against UCF at least than we have in the past few games.

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We never saw enough of Miller for me to form an opinion about him. Wish we saw more of him during garbage time.

Kam's issues aren't experience issues. Kam has played enough snaps to overcome any issues of experience. Kam's issues are clearly pass pro and who knows what else. Not as evidenced by Gus running KJ like he did, but as evidence by him moving Chandler Cox to RB and Jalen Harris to HB late in the 4th quarter of the SECCG. That move spoke volumes to me, at least about Gus' trust in Kam's ability to pass protect. Whether his shortcomings are the fault of our staff for not preparing him, or whether they are on Kam - I don't really care. I don't really care whether he was capable of fulfilling all of the RB1 responsibilities on call. We know he can run the ball. We know about his talent. Our staff had opportunities to include Kam into the game plan in ways that accentuated his strengths without exposing his weaknesses. They never seemed interested in doing this, even though they spoke about it often. 

As to Kerryon, I know that Gus likes to stick with the hot hand. I don't mind that he likes to stick with the hot hand, necessarily. You can do that and still limit players' snaps. That Gus has had success running guys 23 or 24+ times a game in the past doesn't really matter to me. It's a bad policy when you take into consideration the duration of a player's career. Again, whether or not Gus trusted Kam to pass protect or not, Kam has a skill set that could have been used to limit Kerryon's touches. We at least started to see Barrett catching passes in the second half of the season, though never with regularity. 

Ideally, Pettway is healthy and Gus can rotate snaps between the two. We never got to see both backs healthy. We didn't see it much last season. That Pettway injury was huge and shouldn't be overstated. That's plain bad luck.

All that being said, my gripe is recruiting as it has been for the past couple of years. There isn't an excuse for Auburn, especially running a Gus Malzahn offense not to be landing multiple highly-touted backs each season. There isn't an excuse for us not to have a back who by the end of the 2017 who could be trusted with the RB1 responsibilities. We know Gus would play that player - because he played Pettway when available (even when not healthy). 

I feel much better with Asa and Worm coming in. Also, if Barrett isn't "ready" by the 2018 season - I'm blaming that on our coaches. 

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3 hours ago, McLoofus said:
4 hours ago, lionheartkc said:

We're too far up the food chain for our players to be learning on the job. They have to put in the work, in practice and prove themselves before you put them out there. First and foremost, Gus protects the ball. He'll even tell you that himself. So he's not going to put someone out there and tell them to run a play where there's an above average chance that they are going to turn it over.

Then we need to do a better job preparing them.

While you could very well be right, there is also the possibility that some have reached their ceiling. I think it's important to keep in mind that, no matter how good the coaching, some kids just aren't going to pan out. Considering how good our overall running back development has been, I tend to side with the coaches on this one.

3 hours ago, McLoofus said:

He played RB in high school. And he has played well in Auburn games in his very limited reps. Either way, when RB1 is clearly injured and incapable of producing- just like QB1 was, also, in the UGA game last year- you play someone who at least gives you a chance.

He plays very well in the read-option, but I've seen him whiff on blocks in games, so I know that Gus has, and I believe that's why he doesn't get more play time, at least when Stidham is in there.

I still argue that we didn't lose any games this year because of who was at running back. I chalk one loss up to growing pains, one up to not changing up the game plan when running the clock wasn't working, and the final one up to an exhausted offensive line that no one was going to successfully run behind.

3 hours ago, McLoofus said:

Again, whether it's recruiting, preparation, trust or whatever (likely a combination of all) there is no excuse for a run-first coach to not have a reliable 3rd RB in year 5 on the job

You're forgetting Peyton Barber. As I recall, he was 3rd if not 4th string pre-season in 2015. And last year, Kam was 3rd string pre-season (4th if you go back to Spring before Roc left). Attrition and injuries have been a huge problem in developing running back depth, and I would argue that running them 25 times a game, while not ideal, is not the cause of most of the injuries. If we can figure out what that is, then we wouldn't be put in the position where we potentially overuse our best players, because we could rotate the top 2 just like Georgia, bama, etc.

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35 minutes ago, Barnacle said:

Kam's issues aren't experience issues. Kam has played enough snaps to overcome any issues of experience. Kam's issues are clearly pass pro and who knows what else. Not as evidenced by Gus running KJ like he did, but as evidence by him moving Chandler Cox to RB and Jalen Harris to HB late in the 4th quarter of the SECCG. That move spoke volumes to me, at least about Gus' trust in Kam's ability to pass protect. Whether his shortcomings are the fault of our staff for not preparing him, or whether they are on Kam - I don't really care. I don't really care whether he was capable of fulfilling all of the RB1 responsibilities on call. We know he can run the ball. We know about his talent. Our staff had opportunities to include Kam into the game plan in ways that accentuated his strengths without exposing his weaknesses. They never seemed interested in doing this, even though they spoke about it often. 

I honestly think the two issues with Kam are that he's not strong enough to take on some of the pass rushers in the SEC and that he's proven to be unreliable in the passing game.

37 minutes ago, Barnacle said:

We at least started to see Barrett catching passes in the second half of the season, though never with regularity. 

That is a lot of why I expect Barrett to be a force next year. You could watch him progress on the field as they gave him more and different opportunities as I imagine he earned them.

38 minutes ago, Barnacle said:

All that being said, my gripe is recruiting as it has been for the past couple of years. There isn't an excuse for Auburn, especially running a Gus Malzahn offense not to be landing multiple highly-touted backs each season.

I so don't get this.  Why would a back like Cam Akers not even give Auburn a second glance? We regularly lead the toughest division in college football in rushing and our backs are stars. The only thing I can think is, mostly do to attrition, we've had a drought in putting backs in the NFL (at least with a signing bonus), and other coaches are using that against us.

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2 minutes ago, lionheartkc said:

I still argue that we didn't lose any games this year because of who was at running back. I chalk one loss up to growing pains, one up to not changing up the game plan when running the clock wasn't working, and the final one up to an exhausted offensive line that no one was going to successfully run behind.

I don't think that we lost any games solely because of who was playing running back, certainly not LSU. 

However, Clemson and Georgia 2.0 were affected greatly because of injuries to our respective starters. I don't know if we would have won either game had Pettway or Johnson been healthy, but I do believe that it would have made big differences in both. 

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Just now, Barnacle said:

I don't think that we lost any games solely because of who was playing running back, certainly not LSU. 

However, Clemson and Georgia 2.0 were affected greatly because of injuries to our respective starters. I don't know if we would have won either game had Pettway or Johnson been healthy, but I do believe that it would have made big differences in both. 

I always go back to the fact that games are won and lost in the trenches, and in both of those games, we got our butts handed to us all along the offensive line. No matter how good your running back is, if the D is taking away the perimeter and owning your offensive line, you're not going anywhere. Just ask Georgia's backs after Georgia 1.0.

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9 minutes ago, lionheartkc said:

I always go back to the fact that games are won and lost in the trenches, and in both of those games, we got our butts handed to us all along the offensive line. No matter how good your running back is, if the D is taking away the perimeter and owning your offensive line, you're not going anywhere. Just ask Georgia's backs after Georgia 1.0.

We were able to run the ball in both of those games until the 2nd half. The running back injuries were BIG deals, and led to us becoming increasingly dependent on the pass - a shift which led to our offensive lines being eaten alive. Even on the run where KJ fumbled to start the 4th quarter, he was about to pick up 8-10 yards. 

Edited by Barnacle

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Kam Martin is 175-pounds soaking wet. What did this coaching staff think when they recruited him? Use him in situations that maximize his strengths like the majority of other coaches do. Carolina Panthers don't use Christian McCaffrey in the goal line situation hoping it can push it through. They roll him out or motion him and let him work in space.

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Just now, DAG said:

Kam Martin is 175-pounds soaking wet. What did this coaching staff think when they recruited him? Use him in situations that maximize his strengths like the majority of other coaches do. Carolina Panthers don't use Christian McCaffrey in the goal line situation hoping it can push it through. They roll him out or motion him and let him work in space.

Thank you. Plenty of ways to utilize him in ways that accentuate his strengths.

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1 minute ago, Barnacle said:

Thank you. Plenty of ways to utilize him in ways that accentuate his strengths.

I mean seriously if the prerequisite of getting more PT is pass blocking than you need to be selling out for the Cam Akers of the world. Don't waste time recruiting Kam Martin. Asking him to be a proficient run blocker is not realistic. He can become adequate at most. 

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1 minute ago, DAG said:

I mean seriously if the prerequisite of getting more PT is pass blocking than you need to be selling out for the Cam Akers of the world. Don't waste time recruiting Kam Martin. Asking him to be a proficient run blocker is not realistic. He can become adequate at most. 

Agreed, or at least have a plan for how you are going to use those players. I feel bad for Kam, honestly. The kid has talent.

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4 minutes ago, Barnacle said:

We were able to run the ball in both of those games until the 2nd half. The running back injuries were BIG deals, and led to us becoming increasingly dependent on the pass - a shift which led to our offensive lines being eaten alive. Even on the run where KJ fumbled, he was about to pick up 8-10 yards. 

We had 56 rushing yards in the first half against Clemson and only one of run of more than 8 yards which was Pettway for 15.

We had 65 rushing yards in the first half in the SEC Championship and only one over 7 yards, which was Stove for 11.

In both games, our scoring drives were assisted by penalties.

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2 minutes ago, Barnacle said:

Agreed, or at least have a plan for how you are going to use those players. I feel bad for Kam, honestly. The kid has talent.

I think there was a plan... and then Pettway got hurt and Sean got kicked off of the team and the priorities shifted to protecting our QB and using our back who can block. I imagine the original plan was to rotate Pettway and Kerryon and then bring in Kam as an O-Mac/Grant type of change of pace.

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2 minutes ago, lionheartkc said:

I think there was a plan... and then Pettway got hurt and Sean got kicked off of the team and the priorities shifted to protecting our QB and using our back who can block. I imagine the original plan was to rotate Pettway and Kerryon and then bring in Kam as an O-Mac/Grant type of change of pace.

That is a fair plan, but plans get modified all the time. Based on what you just said, CGM plan was to use KJ until the wheels fell off because that is only who he trusted in the backfield to block. Again, that is a fair plan, but if it is a prerequisite for your back to be proficient blockers then you need to change your recruiting philosophies

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Just now, lionheartkc said:

We had 56 rushing yards in the first half against Clemson and only one of run of more than 8 yards which was Pettway for 15.

We had 65 rushing yards in the first half in the SEC Championship and only one over 7 yards, which was Stove for 11.

In both games, our scoring drives were assisted by penalties.

With running backs operating at roughly 75%, yes. There was a lot of yardage left on the field. 

 

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10 minutes ago, lionheartkc said:

I think there was a plan... and then Pettway got hurt and Sean got kicked off of the team and the priorities shifted to protecting our QB and using our back who can block. I imagine the original plan was to rotate Pettway and Kerryon and then bring in Kam as an O-Mac/Grant type of change of pace.

Why would Martin's role change in the absence of Pettway? It's unlikely that all three backs would have regularly been on the field together.

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3 minutes ago, DAG said:

That is a fair plan, but plans get modified all the time. Based on what you just said, CGM plan was to use KJ until the wheels fell off because that is only who he trusted in the backfield to block. Again, that is a fair plan, but if it is a prerequisite for your back to be proficient blockers then you need to change your recruiting philosophies

I don't know that it was as much of a pre-requisite to block when we had a back-up QB who wasn't a freshman. I also don't know that Gus doesn't try to land bigger backs (though if he does, I don't understand why he can't). I do know he likes a change of pace guy, which is what I think he sees Kam as, but he doesn't like to keep them in the backfield for more than that change of pace.

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5 minutes ago, lionheartkc said:

I don't know that it was as much of a pre-requisite to block when we had a back-up QB who wasn't a freshman. I also don't know that Gus doesn't try to land bigger backs (though if he does, I don't understand why he can't). I do know he likes a change of pace guy, which is what I think he sees Kam as, but he doesn't like to keep them in the backfield for more than that change of pace.

I am slightly confused about the need for a blocking RB with a freshman backing up the QB. If anybody needed as much protection, it would be SW as he had the tendency to get injured. I just think it is all about understanding your personnel. Unfortunately, with Kam Martin, you aren't going to get the blocking of Cox or KP, so the philosophy needs to be modified. Just like you would have to modify your philosophy a bit if NM was calling plays versus JS.

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2 minutes ago, Barnacle said:

With running backs operating at roughly 75%, yes. There was a lot of yardage left on the field. 

But was it the backs, or was it the lack of holes/blocking? You look at the SEC Championship game, you have Stove, Johnson, Martin, and Miller in that 65 yards, and the only one who almost broke one was Stove... his other 2 runs gained 4 yards each. Martin got 7... then 5... then 4. Johnson had about the same result as Martin, and got hit for 2 losses due to lack of blocking. Miller got 5... then 1.

I get it. I don't like playing someone who's not 100% either, but the numbers show that no one was running behind our line that day. Maybe a 100% Johnson could have made something happen, because he's not just good, he's great (SEC Offensive player of the year great), but there was no getting him to 100%.

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Just now, DAG said:

I am slightly confused about the need for a blocking RB with a freshman backing up the QB. If anybody needed as much protection, it would be SW as he had the tendency to get injured. I just think it is all about understanding your personnel. Unfortunately, with Kam Martin, you aren't going to get the blocking of Cox or KP, so the philosophy needs to be modified. Just like you would have to modify your philosophy a bit if NM was calling plays versus JS.

I think Gus is terrified of losing his starting QB when he doesn't have a solid back-up, and after 2015-16, I can't blame him. So, when Sean was sent packing, I think his focus became to keep Stidham from getting hit any more than necessary.

On top of that, Stidham's long ball was obviously a favorite weapon, and it is useless if he doesn't get time for the play to setup.

Hopefully, next year, they will work on Stidham rolling out and throwing on the run, as well as more quick outs where he can dump the ball off if there is too much pressure. My biggest hope is that we'll see more against UCF as they will have plenty of time to expand the playbook and that will be a great opportunity to try some new things.

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3 minutes ago, lionheartkc said:

But was it the backs, or was it the lack of holes/blocking? You look at the SEC Championship game, you have Stove, Johnson, Martin, and Miller in that 65 yards, and the only one who almost broke one was Stove... his other 2 runs gained 4 yards each. Martin got 7... then 5... then 4. Johnson had about the same result as Martin, and got hit for 2 losses due to lack of blocking. Miller got 5... then 1.

I get it. I don't like playing someone who's not 100% either, but the numbers show that no one was running behind our line that day. Maybe a 100% Johnson could have made something happen, because he's not just good, he's great (SEC Offensive player of the year great), but there was no getting him to 100%.

Okay, so Stove averaged over 6 yards per carry. Martin averaged over 5 and Miller had 2 carries for 6 yards. Yet, we weren't able to run the ball? I didn't say we were lighting it up, but we're talking about averaging over 5 yards per carry in a championship game against a darn good defense. We had room to run the ball. If those guys are getting 3, 5, 6 yards a carry what do you think a healthy Kerryon is getting? If you don't think our RB health made a big difference in both games, I just don't know what you are watching. 

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7 minutes ago, lionheartkc said:

I think Gus is terrified of losing his starting QB when he doesn't have a solid back-up, and after 2015-16, I can't blame him. So, when Sean was sent packing, I think his focus became to keep Stidham from getting hit any more than necessary.

On top of that, Stidham's long ball was obviously a favorite weapon, and it is useless if he doesn't get time for the play to setup.

Hopefully, next year, they will work on Stidham rolling out and throwing on the run, as well as more quick outs where he can dump the ball off if there is too much pressure. My biggest hope is that we'll see more against UCF as they will have plenty of time to expand the playbook and that will be a great opportunity to try some new things.

I think that makes perfect sense and rightfully so.

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15 minutes ago, Barnacle said:

Okay, so Stove averaged over 6 yards per carry. Martin averaged over 5 and Miller had 2 carries for 6 yards. Yet, we weren't able to run the ball? I didn't say we were lighting it up, but we're talking about averaging over 5 yards per carry in a championship game against a darn good defense. We had room to run the ball. If those guys are getting 3, 5, 6 yards a carry what do you think a healthy Kerryon is getting? If you don't think our RB health made a big difference in both games, I just don't know what you are watching. 

Average yards per carry isn't how it works. It's are they getting the yards necessary to make the first down when needed, and the answer was no, they weren't. Also, each one got fewer yards with each carry, except for Stove. We likely wouldn't have scored at all in the first half if it weren't for Georgia playing dirty and getting called on it. 

Also, I did say a 100% Kerryon could have made a difference, because he's an elite player, but that wasn't happening, not because we wore him out, but because he got injured by landing wrong.

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33 minutes ago, lionheartkc said:

I think Gus is terrified of losing his starting QB when he doesn't have a solid back-up, and after 2015-16, I can't blame him. So, when Sean was sent packing, I think his focus became to keep Stidham from getting hit any more than necessary.

On top of that, Stidham's long ball was obviously a favorite weapon, and it is useless if he doesn't get time for the play to setup.

Hopefully, next year, they will work on Stidham rolling out and throwing on the run, as well as more quick outs where he can dump the ball off if there is too much pressure. My biggest hope is that we'll see more against UCF as they will have plenty of time to expand the playbook and that will be a great opportunity to try some new things.

I 100% agree with your last paragraph. 

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