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Grading Auburn's H-backs/tight ends for 2017

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Auburn Football

Grading Auburn's H-backs/tight ends for the 2017 season

Updated Jan 9, 1:02 PM; Posted Jan 9, 1:00 PM

Auburn fullback Chandler Cox (27) blocks Alabama defensive back Levi Wallace (39) for Auburn wide receiver Darius Slayton (81) during the first half of the Iron Bowl Saturday, Nov. 25, 2017, at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala. (Julie Bennett/jbennett@al.com)

By Tom Green

tgreen@al.com

With Auburn's season in the rearview mirror, AL.com is taking a look at how the Tigers performed at each position during the 2017-18 season. The fourth part of this 10-part series takes a look at Auburn's H-backs and tight ends.

H-backs/tight ends

Grade: C+

Overview: After limited tight end usage in recent seasons, Auburn reincorporated the position into the offense under first-year coordinator Chip Lindsey while still relying on the H-back position to serve as a lead blocker in the run game. Although the Tigers saw an uptick in tight end sets, it did not translate to an increase in production from the position, as Auburn's tight ends and H-backs combined for 12 receptions for 114 yards, with eight of those catches and 78 of those yards coming from H-back Chandler Cox. Sal Cannella finished the year with three catches for 21 yards, while Jalen Harris had one 5-yard reception.

For as little as the positions were used as actual weapons within Auburn's scheme, there was a noticeable improvement in terms of blocking, particularly from Cox, Harris and converted tight end Tucker Brown, who often got reps near the goal line.

Chandler Cox doing 'dirty work' for Auburn's run game

Chandler Cox has proven himself to be a reliable lead blocker for Kerryon Johnson this season.

Top performer: Chandler Cox. Hailed as somewhat of an unsung hero on Auburn's offense, Cox took strides as a lead-blocker this season and came through with key blocks on several of Kerryon Johnson's big runs this season. His development as a blocker has caused Gus Malzahn to draw comparisons to former H-back Jay Prosch, who is now with the Houston Texans.

Biggest surprise: Sal Cannella. When Auburn signed Cannella during the JUCO signing period at the end of last season, it was seen as a step forward in the process of the Tigers getting the tight end more involved in the passing game due to his receiver-like skillset and ability to be a "matchup nightmare" in the red zone. That never materialized, as Cannella appeared in just 10 of Auburn's 14 games and caught three passes for 21 yards while being targeted just eight times -- giving him the lowest catch rate (37.5 percent) on the team.

High point: Cox's performance in Auburn's win vs. Georgia. Cox's ability as a lead blocker was key during Auburn's 40-17 win against then-No. 1 Georgia on Nov. 11. Cox helped pave the way for Johnson's 167-yard rushing effort, and he added what was, at the time, a career-long 17-yard reception.

Low point: The Week 2 loss to Clemson. Early in the season, it was expected Auburn would target its tight ends and H-backs more in the passing game, but the group was not targeted once in the 14-6 loss to Clemson. It was certainly a low point for Cox, who had one questionable carry on third-and-goal from the 1 in the first quarter but was dropped at the line of scrimmage, causing Auburn to settle for a field goal. The junior also struggled at times in pass protection during a game that Auburn allowed 11 sacks, and on the team's opening drive he got in the way of Kamryn Pettway, who stumbled after a short gain that could have netted more yards.

Who's returning: Cox, Harris, Cannella, Brown and John Samuel Shenker, who redshirted this season, are set to return in 2018.

Who Auburn adds in 2018: Auburn has yet to receive a commitment from an H-back or tight end for the 2018 class, though the Tigers hope by National Signing Day to add a combo-type player who can play both positions.

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It's funny that it is putting our FB in with TEs, and putting Sal in there, since he was mainly used as a WR. This also fails to mention that Sal had his chances and couldn't exactly catch the ball as well as we had thought. But he was used as a WR anyway... so... smh.

Chandler Cox has very much improved himself over the course of his career. What worries me is that we haven't really looked to bringing his replacement in yet. Let's hope we sign a big time FB in next year's class since this one is pretty much done.  Otherwise we will be looking at a different offensive set or we will be playing walk-ons.

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14 minutes ago, cole256 said:

Sal dropped alot of passes? That's news to me.

Percentage not quantity

  • Like 3

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6 hours ago, Auburn2Eugene said:

It's funny that it is putting our FB in with TEs, and putting Sal in there, since he was mainly used as a WR. This also fails to mention that Sal had his chances and couldn't exactly catch the ball as well as we had thought. But he was used as a WR anyway... so... smh.

Chandler Cox has very much improved himself over the course of his career. What worries me is that we haven't really looked to bringing his replacement in yet. Let's hope we sign a big time FB in next year's class since this one is pretty much done.  Otherwise we will be looking at a different offensive set or we will be playing walk-ons.

Lindsey doesn't really like FB. 

So I don't think we will sign one.

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20 hours ago, bigbird said:

Percentage not quantity

And when your percentage is bad, you don't get a shot at quantity.

  • Like 2

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On 1/10/2018 at 8:57 AM, WarDamnEagleWDE said:

Grade the TE's? 

 

Image result for laughing gif

My thoughts exactly! Didn't know we had any. So much for all that talk about Sal.

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Just observing but hardly any high schools use a FB or HB..    Even if you watch much college ball, it's rare to see a FB ....the preference being to drop some big offensive lineman back into the formation.   Seems that maybe you have to develop your own...same for TE maybe.  

And...for the most part, any kid big enough to play TE in Div 1 college is probably playing in the DL or OL while in HS.   Every now and then a school comes across a good one....but they seem to be a rarity. 

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23 hours ago, bigbird said:

Percentage not quantity

Quality not percentage.

BIG third down drops!

  • Like 1

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