Todd Van Emst
Auburn's bruising fullback was noticeably absent against Arkansas. Head coach Gene Chizik says we'll see more of Jay Prosch going forward.
Auburn's offense has left much to be desired this season, and one of the few pleasures the unit has provided is the blocking prowess of fullback Jay Prosch. Prosch has done a nice job this year of clearing running lanes for Auburn's backs, but against Arkansas, his playing time was dramatically reduced. Head coach Gene Chizik claims Prosch will see an increased workload going forward:
"Jay being on the field is something that we have to do more, not just from his leadership standpoint and the respect that he has from all the players, but the value that he brings for us out there in terms of physicality," Chizik said.
Prosch did receive his first carry of the season against the Hogs, but he was far too often milling around on the sideline instead of blowing up would be tacklers. Offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler drew up more of a spread gameplan, likely to make quarterback Kiehl Frazier comfortable, and that left Prosch as a bit of an odd man out. There isn't much room for a block-first fullback in a spread attack, and without the big transfer from Illinois, Auburn's offense once again struggled. Three Tiger running backs -- Mike Blakely, Onterio McCalebb and Tre Mason -- actually ran pretty well, gaining 90 yards on 20 carries, a 4.5 yard average, but more power carries behind Prosch could have kept Arkansas' defense off balance. Basically, it's never a good idea for a team to leave one of its most consistent contributors on the bench.
Ole Miss hasn't been great against the run this year, but it has seen some success. The Rebels held Alabama to 125 yards, and if Auburn isn't careful, the Tigers could get shut down in Oxford. Auburn's power run game is what sets up the rest of the offense, and Loeffler has gotten away from it too many times this year. If he wants the offense to get back on track, giving Prosch plenty of snaps will help. Let the fullback clear a path to grind out yards up the middle, and that will open up runs to the edge and the passing game.
Auburn didn't do a good job of keeping Arkansas' defense honest, and Frazier and Clint Moseley paid for it by taking eight sacks. The worst-case scenario of giving Prosch more snaps is simply having an extra blocker in the backfield; Tiger quarterbacks would surely appreciate that. The best case? Auburn's running game is able to wear down the Rebel defense and the Tiger offense is finally able to score enough points to beat an SEC opponent. Either way, keeping Prosch on the field is a win-win.