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Schwartz move could be key to beating LSU


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A slight adjustment for Anthony Schwartz could hold key to Auburn’s offense against LSU and beyond

Posted Oct 21, 2019

By Tom Green | tgreen@al.com

Auburn made one simple personnel change during its bye week, and it could hold the key to unlocking the offense heading into a grueling back stretch of the season.

The Tigers moved Anthony Schwartz to the flanker position after he spent much of the first half of the season playing split end — the same position as Seth Williams. That move allowed Auburn to get the two playmakers on the field at the same time more often during the team’s 51-10 win against Arkansas.

“That was one of our goals, no matter what position they were at,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. “Try to get them on the field at the same time.”

The tweak was both simple and obvious; Schwartz and Williams are the Tigers’ two best receivers and big-play threats, and having them play the same spot on the field was an inefficient use of their skillsets — and, as a result, it didn’t maximize what Auburn could do offensively.

Look no further than Auburn’s Week 6 loss to Florida, when Schwartz and Williams were on the field together for just nine of the Tigers’ 61 offensive snaps. Schwartz finished that game with only one touch — a carry on a sweep for a 4-yard loss — and no receptions on two targets, while Williams had four receptions for 79 yards and a touchdown.

Flash to Auburn’s win against Arkansas coming off the bye week, and it was one of the duo’s most productive games together. Williams had four catches for 90 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while Schwartz had a career-high six receptions for 73 yards and a touchdown while adding two carries for 30 yards.

“When him and Seth are on the field, it’s pretty fun,” Auburn quarterback Bo Nix said.

Schwartz 'back to normal Flash' with career performance against Arkansas

Anthony Schwartz had a career-high eight touches totaling 103 yards and a touchdown against Arkansas.

While Auburn’s receivers are largely interchangeable — the Tigers cross-train the receivers at the various spots in the lineup to develop depth, versatility and help limit substitutions, which allow the offense to move at a faster pace — moving Schwartz to the field while having Williams line up in the boundary is a promising development for the offense. Getting the team’s best playmakers on the field at the same time, suffice to say, makes things more complicated for opposing defenses.

Malzahn made the move during the bye week, which Auburn used as a time for some self-assessments at the season’s midway point. It was during that week — when Malzahn also vowed to make a concerted effort to get the team’s top playmakers more involved offensively — that Schwartz sensed things would change in the second half of the season. The sophomore speedster got more reps in practice (which was also in part due to the removal of the brace he had been wearing on his surgically repaired left hand), particularly at the flanker spot, and saw an uptick in reps with both him and Williams on the field together.

“It changes a lot because, like I said before, you can’t double both of us,” Schwartz said. “If you want to double both of us, we’ll just run it down. Especially on my touchdown (against Arkansas), he kind of occupies the boundary safety, so it just leaves me with a one-on-one to the field, and almost 10 times out of 10 I’m going to win my one-on-one.”

That was the case from the start against Arkansas, when the two were on the field together immediately during the Tigers’ opening possession. The two lined up on the same side of the field during the first play, which was a 5-yard screen to Schwartz. The following play, Williams lined up out wide to the left, with Schwartz flanked to the right side of the formation. That resulted in a 13-yard pass from Nix to Schwartz on an RPO.

“They open up both sides of the field,” Nix said. “You can’t double both of them. So, they’re going to get a one-on-one between the two and you’ve just got to find it and hit them.”

The adjustment allowed Auburn to get off to a fast start against Arkansas, and while the offensive went through a lull in the second quarter, the two continued to shine after halftime as Auburn pulled away and Nix put together a flawless second half passing the ball. The freshman quarterback went 8-for-8 for 131 yards and three touchdowns in the second half, with Schwartz and Williams accounting for all three of those scores.

The result was one of Auburn’s better offensive performances of the season — and a needed one coming off the team’s struggles in its 24-13 loss to Florida two weeks prior. The Tigers rolled up 491 yards of total offense, while Williams averaged 22.5 yards per receptions and Schwartz averaged nearly 13 yards per touch.

“It was good, getting the offense back going,” Williams said. “We know we had a bad performance at Florida. We just had to get it back rolling. We're capable of doing big things.”

Auburn will need to keep that up and hope it continues to open things up offensively when it travels to Baton Rouge, La., this weekend for a top-10 showdown with No. 2 LSU, which has the nation’s No. 2 scoring offense and a home-field advantage that has haunted Auburn over the last two decades.

“We have a lot of confidence because we know what we can do,” Schwartz said. “We just got to fix the little things, like coach says all the time. If we fix the little things, I feel like we’re one of the best offenses in the country.”

Tom Green is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Tomas_Verde.

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Further proof our HC is a buffoon.  I’m sure bammer had to ponder the thought for half a season whether or not to get their three NFL WRs on the field simultaneously.  I’m sure Spurrier had

I can't believe this guy gets paid $7M/year to take 6 weeks to make the most obvious decisions holy ****   These kids deserve better

I’m not sure when he realized which two were the best ones. I’m still not sure if Schwartz is better at everything than Eli is. You are correct that it’s not always cut and dried. But people bitch abo

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9 minutes ago, Tiger said:

I can't believe this guy gets paid $7M/year to take 6 weeks to make the most obvious decisions holy ****

 

These kids deserve better

One could argue it took 6 years and 6 games to figure something like this out.

Edited by gr82be
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Imagine if we had our best RBs on the field at the same time, too!  Oh yeah, that happened and it sparked a second half points onslaught last weekend.

Edited by AUDevil
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40 minutes ago, PoetTiger said:

Stove had to sit for this to happen....So just maybe....well nvm

I’m not sure when he realized which two were the best ones. I’m still not sure if Schwartz is better at everything than Eli is. You are correct that it’s not always cut and dried. But people bitch about lack of adjustments then bitch about adjustments. 

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1 hour ago, Tiger said:

I can't believe this guy gets paid $7M/year to take 6 weeks to make the most obvious decisions holy ***

I’m sure “(which was also in part due to the removal of the brace he had been wearing on his surgically repaired left hand)” had a lot to do with those 6 weeks.


That said, slinging him a deep post with a bowling ball strapped to his fingertips in Week 1 wasn’t bright.

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Whaddya know? You put your two best receivers on the field together and they account for three touchdowns and nearly 200 yards of offense in a game where we were playing conservative. 

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Also helps that he’s healthy. Hell we had complaints about us throwing to him with his cast/support device on his hand.

Im curious what this changes for Cannella if anything. He’s been very underrated this season both in perimeter blocking and as a receiver. 

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1 hour ago, kwagoner said:

I’m sure “(which was also in part due to the removal of the brace he had been wearing on his surgically repaired left hand)” had a lot to do with those 6 weeks.


That said, slinging him a deep post with a bowling ball strapped to his fingertips in Week 1 wasn’t bright.

My thing is Seth and Schwartz were on the field together for like 9 snaps or something vs Florida. Makes no damn sense

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Why is everyone shocked that it took Gus half a season to get this right?  This is par for the course.  It’s time to go on the run to stupefy everyone and get him called an offensive Genius.  See you guys in NOLA

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2 hours ago, PigskinPat said:

Has anyone ever asked Gus what his logic is behind not having his two biggest playmakers on the field together most of the time?

Not enough room in the system to handle it

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Wow, I never would have thought that putting all the best players on the field and molding your offense to fit their talents would be the key to winning big games against superior opponents versus shoehorning players into arbitrary roles based on your "system." Color me shocked.

All joking aside, imagine the type of offensive fear we'd garner with an on the field lineup like this all game long, ACTUALLY USING THEIR ABILITIES TO THE FULLEST. 


INB4: Matthew Hill is the best OVERALL Athlete on the field offensively for Auburn. Schwartz may be the fastest but Hill is special. Just you watch. Oh wait-

 image.png
 

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8 hours ago, Viper said:

Further proof our HC is a buffoon. 

I’m sure bammer had to ponder the thought for half a season whether or not to get their three NFL WRs on the field simultaneously. 

I’m sure Spurrier had to ponder the same in the mid 90s with Jack Jackson, Chris Doring, Reidel Anthony & Ike Hilliard. 

Exactly! He needs to implement the k.i.s.s method for once. This is what pisses me off the most. Stuff that anybody can figure out he acts like it's rocket science. You've coached for ten+ years man! Make it make sense..

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2 hours ago, Malcolm_FleX48 said:

Wow, I never would have thought that putting all the best players on the field and molding your offense to fit their talents would be the key to winning big games against superior opponents versus shoehorning players into arbitrary roles based on your "system." Color me shocked.

All joking aside, imagine the type of offensive fear we'd garner with an on the field lineup like this all game long, ACTUALLY USING THEIR ABILITIES TO THE FULLEST. 


INB4: Matthew Hill is the best OVERALL Athlete on the field offensively for Auburn. Schwartz may be the fastest but Hill is special. Just you watch. Oh wait-

 image.png
 

It is beyond maddening that we are WASTING his talent. If he doesn’t start getting meaningful playing time we will see him in the transfer portal at season’s end.

And you’re right, defenses would be spent trying to account for all of our playmakers all game long. It makes you want to bang your head against the wall because it makes absolutely no sense not to have all your playmakers on the field at the same time.

Edited by PigskinPat
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I was screaming at the Florida game trying to figure out why Schwartz was coming off the field right as Seth came on the field. Florida literally dedicated a safety to either of them while they were on the field. All I could think was, “huh I wonder how Florida would adjust if both were on the field at the same time.” The answers obvious based off their fear of the two they’d most certainly go to a cover 2 deep safeties. Keeping them stuck in that same formation would make play calling tremendously easier and makes it so that 4 players can’t be in the box (two corners and two safeties). That’s just assuming they’re the only two receivers out there.

 

Now if we could find a use for Matthew Hill...

I would stay in a five wide most the game with Seth/Schwartz/Hastings/Cannella/Stove

Frankly there aren’t many teams in the country who could cover that group well. If there’s a linebacker on Hastings you best believe that’s your key route. 

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