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Thursday, March 24, 2016

Auburn Offense: Overhaul or Sharpen?

photo courtesy of War Room Eagle via Google images

After taking the time to look at each of the positions in the Auburn offense, I think it's time to look at the unit as a whole.

Before I look at any statistics to quantify my gut feelings, I'll tell you what I saw, and how I felt about what I saw.

What I think I saw...

Auburn started most of their drives with some sort of read option running play. I know this play is a staple in the Gus Malzahn offense, but if I can call the play, before we line up on the field, what can Defensive Coordinators that do this for a living gain from that knowledge.

Second down was a little more balanced in play selection, but don't let this fool you. There were more passes, I believe, because of the the lack of play selection on first down. That lack of selection, or plays that were called, usually put Auburn in longer yardages.  Hence, more pass plays on 2nd down, and becoming just as predictable.

Third down usually found Auburn in a true passing situation, more often than I would like at any rate.

What actually happened...

Take a look at this post from GET THE PICTURE prior to the Georgia game last season. An excerpt of that post reads; 

"1st Down: Auburn is one of the most run-heavy teams in the SEC on first down. Out of 273 first down plays this season, 213 have been runs. That’s good for 78 percent."


The 2015 Auburn offense wasn't more predictable than any of the previous versions. They were less successful on first down. For whatever reason, the Tigers gained less on first down in 2015, than the two previous seasons.

Our friends at Football Outsiders have developed a chart showing each teams efficiency percentages. Just click on their name, and you'll be directed straight to their page. Interesting how far down the Auburn offense is listed. 

So, the questions I have of the 2016 Auburn offense are what did Gus learn from 2015 ? What if anything will he change? Will it be play calling? Will it be the structure of the offense? 

By "structure of the offense" I mean will he change the formations for some of the base plays he has run like the read option. 
photo courtesy of War Room Eagle & Google images
 In the above formation we see the Auburn offense lined up just as they normally do on first down. The picture from 2013 vs Texas A & M is a short yardage play where the Tigers ran the read option. 

In 2015, nearly all of Auburn's drives started in this formation. This play is the staple on which Gus Malzahn has built his offense. For a better understanding of this style of offense,
 CLICK HERE  

My thoughts are that Gus Malzahn will not change this formation. Instead, I think he looks for wrinkle plays to execute out of this formation. 

"Execute" being the operative word here. Many of Auburn's first down failures were  from poor execution of the play called. Sometimes it was the line missing a block. More often however, it was poor reads by the Auburn quarterback.  

In reality, the Auburn offense must execute better in 2016, and play calling must be less predictable.

Improvement has to happen during the spring and fall camps because the first opponent played in the CFP National Championship game just last season.  Clemson will test Gus and this Auburn team in ways Louisville was unable to in 2015. 

My belief is the answer to the question in the title of this post is "BOTH." Coach Malzahn will overhaul some of his offensive alignments and his play calling, while making sure to sharpen the execution of the plays being called.

WAR EAGLE!





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