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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,

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.


Sunday, March 20, 2016

She's A Dancing Machine

In an earlier post we showed you the excitement of the Auburn Women's basketball team getting selected to the NCAA post season tournament, otherwise known as the "Dance."

The following are some videos provided by Auburn Athletics, of behind the scenes, and the Tigers victory in the first round over St. John's University. 


Auburn will play Baylor University Sunday at 6pm in the home court for the Baylor Bears.


Auburn Softball at Samford Highlights

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Auburn Softball Visits Samford University

It was a beautiful St. Patrick's Day eve at Samford University for a softball game. The Auburn Tigers made a stop at Samford tonight to play a game on their way to Starkville for a weekend series with Mississippi State. The stadium was filled to capacity and there were a lot of people wearing the orange and blue.

Auburn won the game 18-1 after 5 innings and Rachel Walters pitched the first no hitter in her career. Jade Rhodes had another great game going 2 for 2 with a grand slam home run and 5 RBIs. 

Kasey Cooper was 2 for 2 and hit a two run homer with 4 RBIs and Tiffany Howard had three hits and two  RBIs.

It was a good tune up game prior to the upcoming weekend series with Mississippi State and Clint Myers was able to get all of the back up players into the game. 

After the game the Auburn girls and Clint Myers signed autographs and visited with the fans. As I have said before, Coach Myers and his coaching staff has done a remarkable job with this Auburn team and he has recruited well for the future.

My compliments to the Samford fans and the student representatives for their hospitality. 

This Auburn team will be fun to watch this season while they for another visit to the College World Series. 

War Eagle!

Auburn Women's Basketball: NCAA Tournament Selection Show Reaction

That joy feel after all the hard work pays off.

Congratulations to the Auburn Women's Basketball team. 

Yeah, we be dancin' (in my best Jamaican voice)

War Eagle!

Friday, March 11, 2016

Running Back University

Bo Jackson honored on the side of JHS. photo by Klell Lawrence

Various schools claim to be "Tailback U" or whatever, but the truth of the matter is this; Auburn University leads all SEC schools in total numbers of Running Backs taken in the history of the NFL Draft. 

Auburn is tied for 6th All Time in total RB numbers in the nation, and first in the SEC. Just click on that link, and see for yourself.

That being said, it stands to reason the moniker "Running Back U" is a valid and reasonable title among the most powerful football conference in America. In fact, three of the Tiger's regularly scheduled opponents each season were among the Top 17 defenses versus the rush in 2015, yet Auburn managed it's 6th consecutive season where at least one  RB carried for more than 1,000 yards.

An amazing statistic considering how inefficient the Auburn offense was at times last season.

The question is; Who is going to carry the mantle into the 2016 season as the starter? The answer would appear to be #29 Jovon Robinson. Robinson carried the ball 117 times for 639 yards averaging 5.46 yards. These numbers were compiled in just 8 games. 

Still, Robinson can not be expected to carry the entire load. Indeed, Gus Malzahn has shown a penchant for spreading the ball around when it comes to the running game. Four RB's saw meaningful carries in 2015, as did 3 WR's. 

Roc Thomas averaged 6.0 yards per carry, and Kerryon Johnson over 4, so there is plenty of talent to push Robinson, or just relieve him. Then there is the highly heralded true Freshman Malik Miller.

Unless there are  several injuries at this position in 2016, there is confidence that Gus Malzahn will field a talented, and experienced group at the RB position. One more than capable to extend the record to seven consecutive seasons with at least one 1,000 yard rusher.


Auburn University begins planting descendants of original Auburn Oaks in...

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Auburn Softball

This was my view at the Auburn/Georgia State softball doubleheader on Sunday. As you can see, additional seating has been added due to the increase in attendance. The Auburn softball team is now 20-1 and number 3 in the USA. They will play Tennessee State this Wednesday in a doubleheader and then start their SEC schedule. The number 1 Florida Gators are coming to Auburn this weekend for 3 games and it should be a great series to watch. Clint Myers has really put this Auburn softball team on the map and they now have depth at pitching which had been lacking in the past.

I do feel that this Auburn softball team will compete for another World Series title this season so come out and watch a game if you are in Auburn.

Enjoy the games!

Friday, March 4, 2016

Auburn's Quarterbacks: Then & Now

Last week we looked into the offensive line and and the T.E. positions. Looking ahead at what Auburn might try to accomplish, and of course list the players names that are on the roster for the spring practice sessions.

For the official 2016 spring roster click HERE

Let's talk Quarterbacks today. Shall we?

My answer to that question is: We might as well get this over with. 

Honestly though, it is the hot topic when we talk Auburn football this preseason. Amazing what a difference a year makes. 

This time last year we were all sure that Jeremy Johnson was going to be Auburn's starting QB and with all of the glowing reports of Sean White's days of Trent Dilfer and the Elite 11 Quarterback Challenge, everybody just knew we had a solid backup to Johnson when it came to mop up time. 

Yeah. Never really materialized.

Jeremy Johnson was tabbed to be the Auburn starter, and what we saw was a shell of what we had come to expect from Jeremy.
Gus Malzahn w/ Johnson. photo by

**stats from

As the season progressed Johnson's output started to decline, and the number of Interceptions kept increasing. The most troubling aspect of the Johnson decline was when he started holding onto the ball longer, and eventually getting sacked, instead of throwing the ball away. This eventually led to Gus inserting Red Shirt Freshman Sean White into the lineup.
Sean White. photo via

**stats from

Regardless of the reasoning, Auburn's quarterback play was dismal at times in 2015. Not all of which can be blamed on the QB's. We will address some of them when we talk about the Wide Outs in our next post.

Gus Malzahn and his staff went out and recruited the top Dual-Threat QB in the JUCO ranks, and signed John Franklin III. Franklin comes to Auburn with world class speed, and what has been described as a very strong arm. Think Nick Marshall with a better arm at this point in his career. 

In Senior Marcus Davis'  first press conference this spring, he eluded to the voluntary passing sessions with newcomer John Franklin III. 
 Plus, Tyler Queen is healthy now. Gus says that Queen is on a "pitch count." Meaning the Doctors have limited the amount of full throws that Tyler Queen can make to keep him on a healthy recovery. A recovery from elbow surgery. 

""The procedure is “similar” to Tommy John surgery that many baseball pitchers undergo to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in their elbows, and Malzahn said the hope is to have Queen back in the fold for spring practice next March.""

When the fall camp starts there will be another name in the mix for the starting QB job. Heralded Dual-Threat QB Woody Barrett. Barrett is the guy that Gus Malzahn said they've recruited for three years to bring into their system.

The hope of course is that in 2016 quarterback play will be much improved.


Tuesday, March 1, 2016

What Must Auburn Do Offensively?

Questions along the line as Auburn starts Spring practice

This is the first in our series of posts that will look upon what we think Auburn must do to improve to an SEC Championship caliber team. Lets face it, Auburn can not contend for a spot in the College Football Playoff ( CFP ) without winning our conference.

We start where the biggest disappointment developed as the season progressed. The Auburn offense.  Where the Tigers offense had been an exciting and explosive unit. Last season it was anything but explosive. 

Offensive Line: The loss of Avery Young and Shon Coleman are just the tip of the iceberg. Auburn has recruited very well with some of the country's best linemen in camp this spring. The question here is: Who will step up and take over the starting tackle spots? Below is a list of linemen currently on the roster.
Senior Xavier Dampeer   RS Fr. Kaleb Kim   RS Fr. Ryan Meneely    Senior Alex Kozan

RS Fr. Mike Horton   Soph. Tucker Brown   RS Fr. Bailey Sharp   RS Fr. Tyler Carr

Senior Robert Leff   Jr. Braden Smith   Jr. Austin Golson   Jr. Dion Mix

Senior Jordan Diamond   RS Fr. Marquel Harrell   Jr. Darius James

With new Offensive Line coach Herb Hand, there may be lots of shuffling along the line this season. The exception may be with Golson and Dampeer, which are proven dependable Centers. 

At the Tight End ( TE ) position the Tigers seemed pretty well set until the announcement this past week of Chris Laye leaving the program. This position wasn't utilized a lot last season. After having the likes of Phillip Lutzenkirchen and C. J. Uzomah setting the bar at Auburn at this position,  the Tigers need to find someone who can block, catch the ball when needed and who knows the full playbook.

Gus Malzahn's offense has to have an active TE to reach its full potential. The list of potential starters looks like this: Senior Greg Hall   Soph. Jalen Harris   Fr. Landon Rice 

That's not a lot of folks at the TE position and I would expect Gus to move some kids into that area for depth reasons. My guesses are that Soph. Logan Rice and maybe Jr.Tyler Stovall will get looks here as well.

In our next post we will look at the Wide Outs, the H Backs, the Quarterbacks, and the Running Backs. Until then.


Auburn Softball vs. Indiana State Highlights