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Upon Further Review - LSU Game

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* During the past two games, Auburn is 1 of 4 on third downs during the first quarter and 0 of 6 during the fourth quarter. One of 10 is not a good way to start and finish a game.

* Allowing big plays have been an issue with Kevin Steele's defense. During 2014, Auburn allowed a play of 30-yards or more every 65.4 snaps. It dropped to 1 every 44.2 plays in 2016 and to 1 every 36.8 plays during 2017. This season, the current ratio is one every 29.4 plays, the second-worst rate by an Auburn defense the past 30 years.

* Three times against LSU, Auburn forced the visiting Tigers to begin possessions more than 75-yards away from the Auburn end zone. On all three occasions, LSU was able to drive the ball into scoring territory, gaining 175-yards on 32 plays. Auburn's inability to get the LSU offense off the field resulted in an average starting field position at their own 25-yard line and not one single short field for the Auburn offense to take advantage of yesterday. In a 1-point loss, it is easy to point the finger and many things that could be described as being the difference in the game. IMO, this was a huge factor in the game.

* Last season Auburn averaged 7.2 yards per pass attempt, throwing within 5-yards of the line of scrimmage. This season the average has dropped down to 5.6 yards per attempt. Opposing teams have dialed into Auburn's short game since the Alabama game in 2017. During the last five games, Auburn has attempted 70 passes within 5-yards of the line of scrimmage for 5.0 yards per attempt. The screen game has been neutralized but I do credit to Chip Lindsey for getting away from it early in the game.

* Auburn is now 12-0 when Jarrett Stidham has a pass rating of 130 or better and 0-5 when he does not. During his tenure at Auburn, Stidham has completed only 35.8 percent of his passes thrown beyond 20-yards of the line of scrimmage. With Auburn needing the return of the big play, Stidham needs to leave his comfort zone and be more aggressive throwing the deeper routes.

* Regarding vertical passing beyond 20-yards of the line of scrimmage:

Newton (2010): 44.4% for 39.9 yards per completion
Marshall (2013): 28.3% for 505.5 yards per completion
Marshall (2014): 39.7% for 42.2 yards per completion
Marshall (2014 / last 6 games of season): 55.6% for 45.9 yards per completion
White (2015): 34.5% for 38.5 yards per completion
Johnson (2015): 35.0% for 44.0 yards per completion
White (2016): 51.6% for 34.8 yards per completion
Stidham (2017): 34.5% for 42.0 yards per completion
Stidham (2018): 41.6% for 33.0 yards per completion

* The running back rotation is beginning to take shape as Kam Martin saw limited against LSU. For the season, 61.3 percent of Kam Martin's rush attempts have gone for 3-yards or less. JaTarvious Whitlow is at 36.4 percent, and Shaun Shivers is at 42.9 percent. Whitlow leads the running backs with 54.5 percent of his carries resulting in at least 5-yards. Shivers is next at 42.9 percent, and Martin is at 25.8 percent. If not Kam Martin, Auburn needs for Asa Martin to be the #2 primary runner behind Whitlow with Shivers sprinkled in as a change up.

* During their last five FBS games, Auburn's offense has averaged just 129.8 yards rushing per game on 3.1 yards per attempt. The offense has generated only three plays of 30-yards or more from 375 offensive snaps. Auburn has completed just 7 of 20 passes beyond 20-yards of the line of scrimmage for a mere 27.5 yards per completion. Auburn's inability to run the ball and generate big plays has resulted in 20.4 points per game. If this doesn't change, there are easily 3-4 more losses on the horizon unless the defense can hold the quality opponents to under 14-17 points.

* Auburn was 2 of 5, running the ball with 2-yards or less needed to convert against LSU.

* A clear sign Auburn is struggling running the football is the 35 runs, and 30 pass plays during the second half of their two Power-5 games this season.

* Auburn is 2 of 8 passing on third down during the last two games for 13-yards.

* During Auburn's last five games against FBS competition, Auburn has averaged 5.0 yards per play on first down while allowing 6.9 yards to the opponent. This includes 3.69 yards per rush on first down. It should be noted Auburn threw the football over 40 percent on first down against Washington and LSU combined.

* It should be emphasized Auburn's last five FBS games were against ranked opponents, and all five opponents were ranked No. 12 or higher. During those five games, Auburn scored 102 points, while allowing 114 points.

* Under Gus Malzahn, Auburn is 7-12 during games the offense is held to under 20 first downs made during a game. During the 19 games, Auburn averaged 20.1 points per game. With this kind of production, the lack of "big play" offense will continue to hinder the 2018 Auburn Tigers.

* Linebacker Deshaun Davis has led Auburn in tackles 11 times from 2016-2018, more than any other Auburn defender.

* Auburn under Gus Malzahn is now 11-16 during games against FBS competition when the opponent has a better average per play on first down. The Tigers are 8-12 against the same level of competition when Auburn loses the "turnover battle."

* During Auburn's last eight games, six of their opponents were ranked. You would have to go back to 1983 and 1984 to duplicate that level of competition.

* Gus Malzahn as head coach at Auburn has faced a ranked opponent 45.7 percent of the time. Gene Chizik met the same level of competition 38.5 percent, and Tommy Tuberville checked in at 37.6 percent. Terry Bowden was 25.7 percent, and Pat Dye was 33.8 percent.

War Eagle!

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@StatTiger thanks for posting stat. I lloked at pass vs run on 1st down and was pleaslantly surprised it was one play from 50/50 (including the two td runs, and not the kneel down). 

The big play on defense stat you mentioned- how much of that is driven by numver of plays defended? (Is the numerator increasing or denominator decreasing or both)

thanks again always love reading your analysis 

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I’d be very curious to see some of the top coaches and the percentage of times they are playing a ranked team. 45.7 seems brutal. If you simply look at the top 10 teams right now....Auburn and LSU each have six games against ranked opponents; Clemson has 2; Washington, Georgia, Oklahoma, Notre Dame have 3; Alabama, Ohio state, penn state and Stanford have 4. 

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No offense to Sean who I feel had more heart throwing deep balls than Stidham has had so far, but the man barely could throw a spiral 40+ yards down the field. If hes throwing at a better clip than you, theres some issues. 


I knew Nick was THAT boy throwing it deep but I didnt know he was that good. Theres truly no QB I will ever miss more than Marshall (other than maybe Cam) 

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So basically, our defense struggles to get off the field.  And, our offense can't run the ball consistently and struggles to throw downfield.  This could get ugly rapidly.  Fortunately Carlson kicks out of the endzone, and Siposs seems to be getting over 40 yards with no returns.

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Some I'll add:


* In 2 games, Gus Malzahn is 0-2 versus Ed Orgeron.

* In the 2 losses versus Ed Orgeron, Gus Malzahn has given up an average of 15.5 points advantage per game.

* In Gus' last 2 losses to Ed Orgeron, the world didn't end.  WDE!

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Gus has done some awful coaching at Auburn. This game  just wasn't one  of them.  O-line isn't aggressive.  I don't know if we have any future NFL players on it.  I do wonder if Gus would be willing to  pull the trigger on Grimes  after one season to get  a  better recruiter.  I am not questioning Grimes  coaching ability.

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On 9/17/2018 at 2:26 PM, ToomersStreet said:

Gus has done some awful coaching at Auburn. This game  just wasn't one  of them.  O-line isn't aggressive.  I don't know if we have any future NFL players on it.  I do wonder if Gus would be willing to  pull the trigger on Grimes  after one season to get  a  better recruiter.  I am not questioning Grimes  coaching ability.

I can pretty confidently say there's not an NFL player in that starting 5. Heck, I'm always too optimistic about our better OLs getting drafted (Pugh, Isom, Berry, Dismukes) and I'm still wrong about that most of the time. Maybe Brahms or Troxell will work their way into the lineup soon and who knows what their ceiling may be. 

I've wondered the same about Grimes - I think you have to wait and see if these guys progress as the season goes along. But a major talent infusion is desperately needed. UGA lost their starting LT against SC, and a true (5 star) freshman came in and played even better. That's what we're up against now. 

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