StatTiger 2,972 Posted September 19, 2014 Share Posted September 19, 2014 It certainly wasn't the result most Auburn supporters were hoping for but we should all be grateful Auburn left Manhattan, Kansas with a victory. Auburn's school record streaks of 200-yard rushing games and 30-point games came to end at the hands of the Kansas State defense. It was a Wildcat defense that was well coached, disciplined and quick to the point of attack. It took away the heart of the Auburn offense, which limited Auburn's explosive play ability. Fortunately for Auburn, the Tigers' defense came to play, holding Kansas State to under 300-yards of offense. If not for the first-half play of the Auburn defense, the Tigers would not have held their slim 10-7 lead at halftime. If we learned anything from tonight, it was a clear sign of how difficult it will be for Auburn to navigate through their schedule unblemished. With the way Auburn has run the ball during the last 16 games before the Kansas State game, we became spoiled from its production. This is the very reason why Gus Malzahn and Rhett Lashlee knew the importance of improving the pass-offense. Auburn will remain a strong running team but Kansas State won't likely be the last team to slow Auburn's rushing attack down before season's end. This means the pass-offense must strive for continued improvement or face the reality of losing. The play of the offensive line and blocking on the perimeter was very inconsistent against the Wildcats. Auburn's longest run of the night was a 17-yard gain by Nick Marshall and Cameron Artis-Payne took a massive beating between the tackles. Kansas State simply beat Auburn up front, when the Tigers were on offense. The good news was that Nick Marshall delivered, when he was needed the most. If not for 4-5 dropped passes, Marshall would have passed for over 300-yards and at least 3 TD's. It's good to know the players and coaches can learn from this reality check and still be undefeated. All in all, the defense took another big step forward as well as Nick Marshall but the offensive line are in for a gloomy film study this week. Inside the Numbers: Despite the average performance by the offense, Auburn has raised the bar over a 16-game run. Auburn's offense beginning in 1970 and 5 games into the 1971 season, averaged 446.8 yards per game and 34.8 PPG. Starting with the 6th game of the 1994 season, Auburn's offense averaged 461.8 YPG and 36.1 PPG over a 16-game period. Starting with the last game of the 2009 season on through the first game of 2011, Auburn averaged 486.3 YPG and 41.1 PPG. Beginning with the second game of the 2013 season on through the Kansas State game, Auburn averaged 504.4 YPG and 40.4 PPG. The last time Auburn held a team from a major conference to under 300-yards was the 2011 Florida game. Kansas State was held to only 78-yards on 30 first down snaps. The last time Auburn held a major opponent to under 3-yards per play on first down was the 2008 Mississippi State game. Nick Marshall had a QB rating of only 112.3 during the first-half, thanks to a couple of dropped passes. Marshall rebounded strong with a 159.9 rating during the second-half. Nick Marshall came into the game with a total of 4 third-down passes that resulted in a first-down. Against Kansas State, Marshall converted 7 third-down situations, throwing the football. Three games into the season, D'haquille Williams has been targeted 27 times, catching 21 passes. Sammie Coates has been thrown to 13 times, catching 3. Ricardo Louis has been targeted 10 times, hauling in 6 passes. Nick Marshall has completed on 43 percent of his passes on first down but has connected on 57 percent on third-down. After gaining only 60-yards during their first 5 possessions of the game, the Auburn offense gained 294-yards during their next 6 possessions. After going 2 of 7 on third-down during the first-half, Auburn was 8 of 11 during the second-half. Through 3 games into the 2013 season, the Auburn defense had allowed 6 plays of 30-yards or more. The 2014 defense has surrendered just 2. Only 24 of Auburn's 76 offensive snaps netted at least 5-yards. Lowest output of the season. K-State had 29 of 70 snaps that went for at least 5-yards. Auburn's defense has allowed 5.4 yards per play during the first-half and only 3.4 yards per play during the second-half. 52.2 percent of the plays defended by the Auburn defense has been held to 2-yards or less this season. Auburn had averaged at least 17 first down plays that netted at least 5-yards, prior to Kansas State. The Wildcats held Auburn to just 9 plays of 5-yards or more on first down. Last season through 3 games, only 7.9% of Auburn's possessions began on the opponent's side of the field. This season it has increased to 17.1 percent. One of the primary keys to victory was stopping Kansas State from scoring on the 3 possessions they took possession on the Auburn side of the field. Auburn is now 33-4 under Gus Malzahn's offense, when the Tigers score at least 2 times during their first 4 possessions of the game. This was not the case against Kansas State, making Auburn 12-8 under Malzahn, when scoring only once or less during their first 4 possessions. Last season Nick Marshall completed only 28.3 percent of his passes beyond 20-yards of the line of scrimmage. The key was to improve to 40-45 percent in 2014. Through 3 games, Marshall has hit only 18.2 percent. This has to improve or Auburn won't make it back to Atlanta much less the playoffs. Through 3 games Auburn has allowed 3.2 yards per rush during the first-half and 1.3 yards during the second-half. Of Auburn's 18 scoring drives this season, 65.7 percent of the plays have been on the ground. Auburn's front-7 (star included) was involved in only 42.4 percent of the tackles. This included only 9 stops by the D-line, which averaged 17 per game prior to Kansas State. Auburn has now scored 34 points from their opponent's turnovers and have surrendered zero points to the opponent from Auburn's turnovers. Final Word: It would be easy to write off this team's chances of winning a championship solely based on their performance against Kansas State. Though it's obvious there are areas Auburn needs to improve upon, most championship teams survives at least one of these type games during the season. I believe the game plan for this game were solid but execution was questionable in several critical areas. The offensive line struggled, there were too many dropped passes and special teams did not deliver like they normally do. Credit should also be given to the opposition for their performance and effort, which made Auburn's offense look mortal more than not. Auburn will have a couple of extra days and Louisiana Tech to work through before hosting LSU. The time spent before the LSU game will be critical to prepare for what will be an extremely physical game. The offense must find the ability to be more balanced, when their backs are against the wall but there are plenty of positive signs, the defense has continued to improve. Though Auburn won the tackle for loss battle against Kansas State (6 to 5), the Wildcats clearly held the edge in controlling the line of scrimmage. Auburn will not advance very far is this becomes the case, when they return to conference play. The secondary looks questionable at times but it is important to remember the youth movement in place and the lack of experience back there. A better push by the defensive line would help but until that happens, look for Ellis Johnson to mix in the blitz at critical times. Thus far, Auburn has been very productive in this area. The regular season is one-fourth through and Auburn is still in the mix for a special season. The Tigers will need to continue their march to improvement as the schedule becomes more challenging each week. Enjoy the good things accomplished in each game, rather than fretting over the negatives. Normally there are more positives than negatives but its human nature to focus on the negative. This is directed at us as fans and not the team and coaches. Let the players and coaches work out the kinks. War Eagle! Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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