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Thursday, May 14, 2015

What Must Auburn Do: Offense

Coach Rhett Lashlee. photo via Dave Martin/AP

You would have to be rather picky to ask this Gus Malzahn offense to get better. Since we have a coach that will do exactly that, we decided to take a look at what we think some of those improvements might be.

To know where you're going, you must first examine where you've been. - old cliche'

Scoring: Points/Game35.5
Scoring: Games - Points13 - 461
First Downs: Total314
First Downs: Rushing - Passing - By Penalty172 - 132 - 10
Rushing: Yards / Attempt5.47
Rushing: Attempts - Yards - TD607 - 3321 - 32
Passing: Rating156.79
Passing: Yards2984
Passing: Attempts - Completions - Interceptions - TD332 - 208 - 7 - 23
Total Offense: Yards / Play6.71
Total Offense: Plays - Yards939 - 6305        
Time of Possession / Game     29:52.69
3rd Down Conversion % 52.51%
3rd Down Attempts - Conversions                                179 - 94
4th Down Conversion % 42.86%
4th Down Attempts - Conversions 7 - 3
Red Zone: Success % 87.93%
Red Zone: Attempts - Scores 58 - 51

 Last season our Tigers went along with some decent numbers offensively. At first glance you'd think scoring per game was good. Auburn finished 27th behind three SEC teams and Ga. Tech. Yes, you read that correctly, a Wishbone offense scored more points per game than our HUNH, that was anything but HUNH, for most of the season.

Rushing the ball, at least statistically was good, although down considerably in the ranks from 2013, where Auburn finished at the pinnacle of the football world.

Let's be honest, throwing the football was truly the Achilles's heel of this Auburn offense in 2014. As adamant as Gus Malzahn is about Nick Marshall being a really good QB, Auburn's passing numbers don't lie. 

A 156.79 passer rating, 23 TD's to only 7 INT's, and a total of 2,984 passing yards is a really good season. Inside those numbers one has to wonder why Auburn finished 67th nationally in passing offense. Yards per attempt were quite high at 9.0. The answer may be that Auburn only attempted throwing the football an average of 25.5 times per game, which is the lowest amount of any team in the Top 90 in passing offense. 

Our Tigers had the 6th highest passer rating of all the teams with higher rated passing offense in 2014. That's pretty good considering Gus Malzahn and Rhett Lashlee were calling running plays at nearly 2 to 1. 

However, our QB's failed to produce in the fashion that the coaches predicted. Coach Lashlee had stated prior to the start of the season, he wanted Nick Marshall to be a 65% to 70% completion rate passer. Although Auburn improved from it's 2013 numbers, the improvement was ever so slight. From 60.7% in 2013 to 62.7% 

It is here that I must say I am using total team numbers for the season. Taking into account Jeremy Johnson started the Arkansas game, these numbers do not totally reflect on Nick Marshall.

 Back to the question at hand: What must Auburn do offensively in 2015? 

Almost every pundit in college football is agreeing that Auburn has upgraded it's passing game simply by naming Jeremy Johnson the starter. Johnson has a good strong arm, and has exhibited remarkable touch on several occasions. 

The tigers are returning a very healthy amount of experience and talent at the Wide Out positions, along with nearly every member of the offensive line. Chad Slade moved on to the NFL, and Alex Kozan returns from the injured ranks. Bolstering an offensive line that must be able to control games late into the 4th quarter.

Running Back U has a trio of RB's able to start for most teams in the country. Pass protection by these 3 is a must. Holding onto the football when their number is called is even more important.

The positions that are of some concern are H-Back, and Tight End. Experience is the reason for that concern, there simply isn't any. 

The keys are simple. Fewer turnovers, fewer penalties, be better at 3rd down conversions, and stay healthy. If this 2015 version of Auburn offense can accomplish those key items, the sky is the limit as to production, and points.

War Eagle!

***All stats are courtesy of

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