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Xs and Os: How Auburn Regained the Lead

Auburn's offense quit committing penalties in the second half and rattled off three straight scoring drives. The first was discussed yesterday and the second and third are discussed below.

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

After climbing to within three points of the Rebels early in the third quarter, Montravius Adams sacked Bo Wallace to force a punt. That punt put the Tigers back at their own four yard line, but that doesn't seem to much of a problem this year. Auburn moved the ball up the middle, around the end and through the air on 11 plays to march 96 yards and take the lead.

CAP Up the Middle

Cameron Artis-Payne has seemingly improved over the last few games, but, as he has said himself, it really helps when the offensive line give him space. On a crucial 3rd and 1, a six-man offensive line did just that with the Power play

6OL Power1

Braden Smith comes in as a blocking tight end (he's in front of Brandon Fulse in the GIF) and handles a defensive end solo. Meanwhile, the playside tackle, guard and center (Avery Young, Chad Slade, and Reese Dismukes) obliterate the rest of the defensive line. Devonte Danzey pulls to the right and lead blocks into the running lane as the jet motion pulls support players away from that running lane. Artis-Payne just follows Slade into the hole and gets 13 yards to easily reach a first down.

Nick Around the End

Five plays later, the Tigers are pacing the Rebels as they get past the Ole Miss 40 and Nick Marshall makes a big play.

Marshall ZRKeep

With the same zone read we've grown accustomed to, Marshall keeps and makes the read player miss in the backfield. After getting about five yards down field, a safety is coming down to limit the damage while the slot defender that widened with the bubble route is coming back in. With quite a "slippery" move (h/t Todd Blackledge), Marshall bounces outside again and lets Quan Bray take one for the team. Bray's bubble route turned into just enough of a block to let Marshall gain 19 yards and get the Tigers into the red zone.

Marcus Though the Air

Two plays later, Marshall completes his sixth straight pass, going 5/5 on this drive alone. That completed pass went to Marcus Davis, who caught a similar pass against Texas A&M last year.

Davis Wheel

Melvin Ray is the outside receiver and runs a shallow post, breaking inside at about the five yard line. This draws two deeps defenders inside and the left corner of the field is left unattended. The linebacker covering Davis widens into the flat, but, because he has his eyes in the backfield, he doesn't see Davis run down field. Marshall releases the ball just before getting hit by the pass rush and Marcus Davis makes a great catch in the air.

The Rebels answered with two big plays of their own, a 34 yard run by I'Tavius Mathers and a 29 yard pass from Wallace to Evan Engram. On the second play of the fourth quarter, Ole Miss went ahead by three. Auburn started the next drive on its own 25 and flipped the field with a big pass to Sammie Coates as Marshall just put the ball in his "area code". From there, the offensive line went to work as five of the next six plays were on the ground.

Danzey at the Second Level

As I've written before, the Inside Zone run play allows offense linemen to double team along the line before reaching linebackers at the second level. On the first play after the pass to Coates, the offensive line does a great job of controlling the line of scrimmage.

CAP Zone

Just after the play begins, the Rebel linebacker to the right blitzes, but Chad Slade is able to pick it up. The read defender on the left tries to slow play it, but Artis-Payne gets past him before he can react to the give. Finally, Devonte Danzey makes a crucial block on the Rebel linebacker at the second level. CAP squeezes between this block and Avery Young's to gain 14 yards before slipping to the turf.

CAP Pulled Down from Behind

Four plays later, Auburn is inside the Ole Miss 10 yard line and Gus Malzahn calls for Power with six linemen again. The offensive line does a great job of preventing any penetration and nice hole opens up to the left. Unfortunately, a great play by Ole Miss cornerback Derrick Jones stops the play for only two yards. Jones doesn't respect Marshall's post-handoff bootleg and tackles CAP from behind before he could get too far downfield.

6OL Power2

CAP Gets North and South

On second and goal from the Ole Miss six, Auburn uses the quick huddle with an unbalanced line. As the ball is snapped, the Rebel secondary is still adjusting to the formation. Lucky for them, they were sprinting in the direction of the play. Nick Marshall tosses the ball to Artis-Payne to the right.

CAP Toss

The receivers do a nice job of sealing defenders inside and the offensive line again does a good job of preventing any penetration, but the Ole Miss defense was not going to let CAP reach the edge. So, instead of staying the course and running out of bounds after a gain of two yards at best, he looks for an crease to cut back into and Auburn's blockers provide a good one. (Cliche alert) Artis-Payne "puts his foot in the ground," "gets north and south," and "accelerates through the hole," all of which put Auburn ahead for good.

With 10 minutes left in the game, both teams had plenty of opportunity to change the score further, but 35-31 was the final. Ole Miss was able to move the ball very well on its next two drives, but with some great plays by Derrick Moncrief, Kris Frost, and Cassanova McKinzy (and just a touch of luck) to force and recover a couple of fumbles, Auburn left Oxford a winner.