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Deep Cuts: Texas A&M

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Inspired by Auburn’s comeback last weekend, the Deep Cuts series returns with a look at two critical moments from Saturday’s contest.

Texas A&M v Auburn Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images

Hey look! This thing we used to write is back!

Drew McCracken

I chose this play not for its complexity but more so to show how you can get away with an easily designed play while in the hurry up to confuse the defense. During this drive, Auburn had just hit the play I originally wanted to review and praise for the downfield blocking, but thanks to a crashing TV camera guy who felt the need to show the offensive line blocking and no down field routes I chose this play instead. On said previous play, Ryan Davis was able to get down to inside the Aggie 15 on a 47 yard crossing route that put Texas A&M back on their heels. So that sets up Auburn 1st and 10 at the 11.

So here is the play set, Auburn has two wideouts to each side with a back in the shotgun formation. A&M shows a base man formation because they were back on their heels and Jimbo somewhat rolled the dice on not taking a time out to let his defense get their feet back under them.

For those of you that use to play NCAA Football on Xbox, does this play look familiar? It should, and you better have delayed the hot route to the RB out wide when you played, but that’s exactly what this is. Screen 1 of any of the shotgun playbooks on the game. In real life, Stidham knew exactly where he was going before the snap, his 6’ 3” monster freshman who is quickly becoming my favorite receiver.

This is just before Stidham let’s go of the ball but it’s at this point that you know that this will either be an incomplete pass or a TD because an INT is a mathematical improbability. The only way that would happen is if Stidham underthrew the ball and it would take a miracle for him to pull that off, even this season. It’s also worthy to note the pick up block by the running back of the linebacker on the blitz, as obviously that would have wrecked the play.

Further proof of the incomplete or TD reasoning. The only reason I like this still is because of the DB’s head position…look familiar?

And here is Seth Williams just doing Seth Williams things. I don’t care if its Kelly Bryant or Bo Nix or Jarrett Stidham next year, the fact that we get at least 2 more seasons of Seth Williams (and George Pickens on the other side, please stay committed) is a scary thing to think about for SEC Defenses. Oh and don’t forget about the fastest man on the football field in Anthony Schwartz. Heck of a drive with very simple plays. It’s amazing what the hurry up can do to a defense as long as you commit to playing quickly and keep the same personnel on the field.

AUNerd

Coaches amaze me sometimes. We talk about how these guys understand the game of football so much better than the rest of us (which is absolutely true) yet they will continue to make some odd boneheaded decisions that often cost them games. We’ve seen it plenty with Gus Malzahn but Saturday it was supposed in game playcalling savant Jimbo Fisher with the goof.

With 8:30 left to go in the game and up 10, the Aggies took over with the ball at Auburn’s 44 yard line. According to ESPN’s gametracker, Texas A&M had a 95.7% chance of winning the ball game at that point in time.

On first, down Trayveon Williams picked up a minimal 2 yard gain. On 2nd down, he was stuffed for a one yard loss. That brought up 3rd down and 9 from Auburn’s 43 yard line with 7:14 to go.

So let’s breakdown what exactly happened next.

Aggies are in 11 personnel while Auburn counters with their base Nickel look. The Tigers show a bit of eye candy before the snap to confuse the young Aggie QB. Everyone knows that this season Auburn is a blitz heavy team on 3rd down. Steele uses that tendency against the Aggies this go around. Christian Tutt is hinting that he might be coming while Jeremiah Dinson has cheated up looking like he will either replace Tutt in coverage or blitz as well. He’s off screen but Auburn has a safety deep making this appear to be either a Cover 1 or Cover 3 look.

You can’t see it very well from this camera angle but Auburn actually ends up dropping into Cover 2. Neither Tutt nor Dinson blitz, instead Dinson bails deep over the left hash while Tutt sinks back in front of the in breaking slot WR.

That means there’s not really anywhere to go with this football. The Tigers have dropped 7 in coverage while Aggies have only sent 3 out on routes. However, as you see in the still above, Mond has plenty of room to escape up the middle. It’s no guarantee you will get the 1st down given that Auburn’s 2 linebackers have dropped into coverage with eyes on the QB but you will either setup a long FG attempt, a short 4th down attempt or at least live to punt this ball down inside the 5. But Mond thinks he has something on the outside...

The Y-receiver appears to be running a fade so against Cover 2 with a CB in the short zone and a S deep over the top, he throttles down in the gap between the 2 defenders. Meanwhile, Noah Igbinoghene is baiting Mond to throw this football. He could have widened out further and dropped a bit deeper making it clear you shouldn’t throw this ball. Instead, he stops short and dares Mond to make an NFL throw between 2 defenders.

Mond takes the bait and tries to get this over Iggy’s head. This is both a terrible decision and a terrible throw. If you are Mond and you wanna fit this ball in this small window then you better throw this thing high, fast & further up field forcing the S to make a tremendous break on the ball. Instead, he literally tries to just throw this over Iggy’s head. #4 is too good an athlete to let that happen and makes the big time pick.

Jimbo your thoughts?

Personally, if I’m throwing in this situation I’m getting this ball quickly into the hands of Williams who has dominated Auburn’s defense. Fisher elected instead to trust his sophomore QB to make smart decisions. Mond elects to not make smart decisions instead. That pick reignited the crowd AND the offense who would go on to put together one of the more improbable comebacks in Auburn football history.

War Eagle!