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Evaluating the Auburn Offense - Arkansas 2016

Sometimes you're just the better team, by a lot.

John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Good Lord what did we just witness? I expected Auburn to win this game, but

There's not as much to say in regards to play-calling this week because the game mostly came down to the fact that Auburn was just better in the trenches than Arkansas, but I will do my best to give you those screenshots with some MS paint arrows on them anyways.


Let's start at the beginning shall we?

Auburn leaves the play-side DE unblocked. He stays inside expecting the hand-off to Pettway and is in no position to touch Stove. Other than that, Auburn simply has a blocker for every defender that could stop Stove. I have to give the players more credit than the coaches here because everyone's blocks were executed perfectly. That said, I do love that we had a jet sweep go for a huge gain because it's something we fake a lot. Bonus points to Joe Tessitore for working in a quick Stove pun before the play was over. Next:

This play was a modest gain, but I include it because of the formation/personnel used. The use of single back formations has been a big change to this offense since Lashlee took over, but thus far that's meant a RB stays in with no H-back. Here we see Cox in with no RB instead. White uses the jet sweep play action and then hits Cox to the other side. Again, not a killer play but it's another formation on tape now for defenses to have to consider and another look that Lashlee can cook up new plays for. This is Lashlee keeping it fresh. But then again, Truitt would line up at RB on the very next play and take it to the house so whether this was a 1 or 2 back formation depends on how you define Truitt I guess. Having the two plays back to back though with tempo was a likely contributor to their success.

Another ho-hum gain, but this looks like a toss sweep right? Two WRs up top and a pulling guard with Pettway looking for the pitch? Nope, White would keep this one and run it inside. I'm not necessarily crazy about White potentially taking a shot up the middle, but it's another good wrinkle. The unblocked DE doesn't buy the fake pitch to Pettway and is able to grab White's shoelaces. Had he been fooled though, White had a lot of open field ahead of him. Next, let's take a look at Pettway's athleticism:

This is the regular old inside zone play. Cole Cubelic has pointed out that what makes this play so effective for Auburn right now is that the RBs can pick where they want to go and more specifically they wait until they're very close to the line of scrimmage before making a cut. That leaves the linebackers unable to fit into the right hole. We all praise Pettway for being a bruiser (which he certainly is) but what we may not give him enough credit for is his ability to shift laterally very quickly. He starts this play running straight ahead and so does the blocking. But Pettway sitcks one foot in the ground and...

...2-3 steps later he has not only teleported around the edge of the defense, but he's already turned North/South again and is ready to exploit the open space he found. That's just not fair to the linebackers.

And that's really it. I like to focus on fancy play-calling but there really wasn't much of that in this game. The domination came almost exclusively from Auburn players executing well and Arkansas players not. It's kind of like how cooks say all the time how they don't want to do too much and just want to let the quality ingredients do the work (right Coach Hand? cause he was on an episode of Chopped?)

Other Thoughts

- Swing passes were non-existent. Regular readers will know that I am heart broken about this. /s

- Inside zone is still the order of the day, and I didn't see any buck sweeps, but I saw more pulling guards this game. I'm wondering if that's a sign that the line is starting to "gel" and Rhett trusts them a little more.

- We continue to line up TEs at the line (although there were more typical 2 RB 3 WR sets this game than the last couple.) We haven't targeted a TE yet, but I guarantee you we will. At some point during Amen Corner we will need a score and a TE is going to sneak out and be wide open in the end zone.

- Auburn ran more tempo and to greater effect in this game. Again I think this is owed to the fact that the line has "gelled" and Lashlee trusts the personnel he has out there to stay on the field and execute at a high level.

- White had maybe his worst outing to date going only 6/11. And the announcers made no secret his shortcomings. Of course, if this is his worst outing, I'll gladly take it. I just wish it wouldn't have happened the same week I got into it mid-podcast with my corndog brother-in-law after he claimed Etling and White were functionally equivalent.

- Regular readers will also know I've been on about throwing more on first down. But if we're gonna run the ball like this then I'll gladly shut up about that. If we can be the second coming of 2013 and throw only 10 times a game, I can live with that. 5 of White's 11 attempts did come with some form of play action though. This pleases me.

Overall, I'm going full posi-barner. And I urge you to as well. I do think we exposed Arkansas as overrated, but massacres like this don't just happen either. If you whip any two SEC West teams the way we've just done against State and Arkansas, then you are an undeniably good team. We're one of the hottest teams around right now so enjoy it. I see no reason we can't keep rolling against Ole Miss, Vandy, & Georgia.