Only happy talk this week despite Auburn’s frustrating 31 point victory (what a weird thing to type) over the Razorbacks. Let’s take a look at two big plays from Saturday night.
This week I want to praise the defense for….obvious reasons…
Jamel Dean has been a bright spot in the Auburn secondary so far this season. His ability to read and diagnose a play is on par with Deshaun Davis, without either, the Tiger Defense would be a very different looking group. There was one play this past Saturday that highlighted the Dean effect on this year’s defense.
In this play, Arkansas is in a One Back Shotgun with 2 wide to each side, a staple of the HUNH that both Gus Malzahn and Chad Morris are known for. Meanwhile, Auburn is in a modified 4-2 with 2 safeties high and 3 true corners in on the play. I have diagramed how Arkansas drew up the play, you know, with people hitting their blocks and then Whaley hitting stride and busting it for a 20+ yard gain.
Here’s how it played out though. Note the wideout at the top of the picture pointing at Dean. The only thing I can think of is that he is saying that the receiver below him in the formation should block Dean and he would be free to block the free safety. This however was folly as it was an instant before the snap and the message was not seen.
As you can see, both blockers leave Dean untouched to have a free run at the running back. Meanwhile, Big Cat Bryant does what he is suppose to, crashing in on the read option, leading the Hogs to feel pretty good, until Dean comes streaking through like a live wire….leading to…
THE EXPLOSION. I really wish we had a down the sideline view from behind Dean. There was no hesitation, just explosion through the opportunity. It was a beautifully drawn up play, poorly executed and capitalized upon by a defense that could be, and going forward may have to be if the struggles on offense continue, more opportunistic than it already is.
I thought long and hard about breaking down ANOTHER failed 4th & 1 attempt but I feel like you probably have read enough negativity around the AU interwebs this week so let’s talk about something happier. Specifically, let’s talk about that beautiful Buck Sweep that went for Auburn’s final touchdown of the evening.
Auburn is once again inside Arkansas’s 20 yard line and this time plan on coming away with a touchdown. Auburn comes out in 20 personnel (2 backs, 0 tight ends) against Arkansas’s 4-2-5 Nickel look. This appears to be an RPO concept with Ryan Davis running a quick screen or “Spot” route at the bottom of the screen with Seth Williams blocking ahead of him. Meanwhile, the offensive line will block Buck Sweep. Stidham is reading the Nickel defender (circled above) on this play. If he crashes in, he will throw it out to Davis. If he stays where he’s at or drifts out, then you give this to JaTarvious Whitlow. As you will see, the defender sinks a bit so Stidham makes the right read and gives it.
This abomination of an image attempts to show how Auburn blocks Buck Sweep against this defensive look. If you are like me, you were probably wondering why only one man pulled on this play. Well first, it helps to understand the defensive front Auburn is facing. Arkansas is in what is called an “Under” front. Gus Malzahn defines an “Under” front as one where the defensive tackle on the same side as the 3-back (Chandler Cox) is lined up in a 1-technique (inside shoulder of the guard) and the defensive tackle away from the 3-back is lined up in a 3-technique (outside shoulder of the guard).
That’s the look Arkansas is giving Auburn on this play so instead of asking the playside tackle (that would be Prince Tega Wanogho) to try and block all the way down to that 1-tech, Auburn instead just has the playside guard (Marquel Harrell) take him and alters the assignments for the playside tackle and backside pulling guard. Typically, the playside tackle blocks down to the defensive tackle while the playside guard is responsible for pulling around and kicking out to the first unblocked defender on the outside and the backside guard is tasked with pulling around and sealing the backside linebacker. With this look, the playside tackle (Tega) works his way to the backside LB while the playside guard (Harrell) handles the 1-tech and the backside guard (Mike Horton) pulls around and kicks out to the cornerback.
Hopefully that made sense....
Shedrick Jackson is in at wide receiver here (the 9 spot in Malzahn’s system) and is tasked with cracking the playside linebacker. Chandler Cox will then attempt to seal the playside defensive end to the inside. Jack Driscoll’s job is pretty simple here, don’t let that backside DE blow this play up from behind.
Ball is snapped and you can see that Stidham is reading the Nickel defender. The DB stays put so this is a give all the way to Boobee. Let’s check out how the blocking is going.
Nick Brahms has driven his man 2-3 yards deep which is pretty awesome to see. Marquel Harrell kinda gets owned on this play but the defensive tackle steps into the A-gap and basically takes himself out of the play. Cox does a good job sealing the edge while Tega is reaching the backside linebacker. But what has me most excited is the true freshman wideout getting his nose bloodied a bit and taking on the playside linebacker and winning.
Mike Horton has eaten the cornerback at this point (seriously listen to the sound of the collision in video below) while Jackson and Tega are driving their defenders to the sideline. That leaves Boobee one on one with the safety who has come around the outside leaving a gaping cutback lane for Whitlow. Touchdown Tigers
Enjoy this play in real time below. Auburn didn’t often have all 11 guys executing their assignments this past weekend but this is one of those rare instances it occurred and it’s beautiful to watch unfold.