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Touchdown Auburn: Kentucky Edition

The Tigers offense came alive in the 2nd half to secure an important first week win.

NCAA Football: Kentucky at Auburn John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

On Auburn’s first three drives of the game they picked up 136 yards on 20 plays which is just under 7 yards a play. That’s really good! The bad news? Due to Auburn’s inability to convert on 3rd or 4th & short, the Tigers only had 7 points. That’s not so good!

But in the 2nd half, Auburn’s offense did a better job finishing drives helped out by two drives starting with fantastic field position. The Tigers finished the day with 29 points and a big time W over a team a lot of folks thought would leave Jordan-Hare 1-0.

Let’s take a look at each of those beautiful touchdown drives.

Following a 93 yard Kentucky touchdown drive, Auburn’s offense took over just past their own 30 yard line. The drive got off to a rough start with a false start but after a 7 yard pickup by Shaun Shivers, the Tigers faced 2nd & manageable. That’s when Worm let everyone know why he’s been the talk of fall camp.

This is GT Counter, a concept Auburn started using more often last fall. The backside lineman, specifically in this case Alec Jackson and Tashawn Manning, pull around to fit on the first 2 defenders they see. The rest of the line down blocks and ideally the back would follow those pullers through the B-gap.

However, though Kentucky starts with only five men in the box, #31 comes downhill fast to provide run support leaving Auburn’s blockers outnumbered. Everyone gets a hat on a hat but there’s an unaccounted for linebacker. That’s when Shivers’s playmaking ability takes over.

Seeing the backer in the hole, Worm bounces this outside, avoids the safeties diving tackle, spins off another would be tackler and finishes by lowering his shoulder to deliver one last pop. Just an incredible individual effort to turn what could have been a 1 yard gain into a first down and a momentum booster for the Tigers.

On the very next play, Bo Nix finds Seth Williams for the first of six times on the day.

Auburn is running what is called a “Chase” concept out of a bunched formation with trips to the field. Eli Stove is the lone man to the near side running a go route. Up top, Seth Williams is lined up on the line of scrimmage and running a deep crosser. Caylin Newton is running an in route about 10 yards deep while Luke Deal, lined up at tight end, is running an angle route.

Stove’s route sucks the safety to that side of the field deeper while Seth’s route comes open behind the linebackers. Great protection up front including D.J. Williams coming across the formation to pickup an edge rusher gives Bo the time to let this play develop. Nix climbs in the pocket and delivers a nice ball to Seth for a big pickup.

Following a quick screen pass to Anthony Schwartz, Auburn keeps UK on their heels by running a screen to the other side of the field except this time they send a 6’2” 300 lb freak athlete to lead block.

Perfect throw by Nix allowing Anthony Schwartz to catch and run. Seth Williams walls off his defender while Pegues scares the hell out of the cornerback. Schwartz shows his insane acceleration and is only tackled by a tremendous play by the cornerback. I personally thought he was in but it didn’t matter because two plays later Auburn was in the endzone.

All the credit for this touchdown goes to two guys who play Auburn fans favorite position - tight end. Watch as Luke Deal and J.J. Pegues obliterate the right side of Kentucky’s defense. Williams does a good job bending this back and following those blocks into the endzone for the score.

Auburn’s longest drive of the day came in the 3rd quarter following a 2nd forced 3 & out by the Tigers’ defense.

First I want to point that both the tight end AND the running back run routes on this play. In fact, if Nix wanted to get the ball out quickly both were there for a decent pickup. While neither were targeted all that much (really at all) they were out there running routes and were available for Nix to hit if he wanted.

The result on this play is awesome but everything before it by Nix is less than ideal. He bails out of the pocket WAY too soon. Yes, Keiondre Jones eventually gets beat but Nix could have easily climbed the pocket here behind Jones and made this throw much easier. In fact, another TV angle shows Ze’Vian Capers breaking wide open on the other side of the field. Instead, he drifts out to his right, gets the lineman in the air with a pump fake and then floats a perfect ball to Seth off his back foot.

The arm talent here is on display but I don’t think this is something you wanna see Bo do this Saturday. If Nix can do a better job navigating within the pocket instead of drifting out right when his first read isn’t available, he’s got a chance to be special.

Kinda like this play...

Again, please notice that both the tight end and the running back run routes on this play and are open. Now neither are likely to pickup a first down but if Nix wanted too he could have taken either for 3-4 yard pickup at least.

But I liked what Nix did here overall. This is what he must do more of moving forward. Instead of bailing at the first sign of trouble, Nix climbs the pocket, keeps his eyes downfield and then throws an absolute missile despite not being able to get his lower body into the throw really at all.

Following a false start penalty, Auburn dials up a big play on the ground using Bo’s legs.

On 1st & 15, Chad Morris calls for a draw that works beautifully. The Tigers come out in a 2x2 set and clear out the middle of the field. Nix sells this well looking downfield and then follows Brahms for a nice pickup. I liked how Nix looked toting the rock Saturday.

Tank Bigsby would later pickup the first down but Auburn quickly ended up in 3rd & goal after a fade was caught out of bounds and a blown up run play. That’s when Seth Williams would make his first circus catch of the day.

Auburn comes out in trips with the tight end John Samuel Shenker lined up near side. Again, please note that both the tight end and the running back run routes on this play. In fact, Shivers is wide open on the angle route. He’s not the only one.

Up top, Ze’Vian Capers and Seth Williams are both running skinny posts. They are essentially clearing out the safeties to set Anthony Schwartz up for a 1 on 1 matchup which he wins. Schwartz hits his UK defender with the ole “Hastings Skip Hop” and breaks open for an easy touchdown.

However, Bo Nix had other plans. Notice Nix is again drifting right before he really needs to though there is pressure about to come backside. He’s watching that safety and when he gets pulled in some by Capers route, Nix fits a ball into the tiniest of windows for Seth Williams to go up and get.

Again, the result of this play is awesome but there are some concerns about the process. Nix can’t become so smitten with Williams that he doesn’t see the whole field. It worked out on this score but against teams like Georgia and Alabama, you better take the easy 6.

Terry Wilson craps his pants on a 3rd down after seeing Jamien Sherwood in his way and drops the ball. Sherwood recovers and the Tigers are setup with great field position. Following a nice D.J. Williams run, the Tigers get the ball in the hands of Flash once again.

This is an RPO with a pre-snap read where if Nix likes numbers on the outside he hits the “Spot” screen. The Wildcats are crowding the box so instead of handing it to Williams on GT Counter, Nix rips this out to Schwartz who gets a great block from Caylin Newton and explodes for 9 yards.

As mentioned above, Nix has really improved his accuracy when throwing these quick hitting screens. Puts it in a place where Schwartz’s momentum is moving downfield and away from the would be tackler. Nice play.

Wanna see an even nicer play?

Enjoy Seth Williams as long as you can Auburn fans because this man is going to be making some serious money on Sundays next season.

Kelvin Joseph had about as good a day as his former team the LSU Tigers. Facing 3rd & goal, Auburn elects to go with the fade to Seth. Typically fades are one of the lower percentage plays in college football but that’s only when you aren’t throwing to Seth Williams. A perfect ball and a perfect catch result in Auburn extending its lead.

Also shout out to Brandon Council and Brodarious Hamm for demolishing that UK defensive tackle.

The Tigers final score came courtesy of a silly decision by UK’s punter to try and run for a first down. He was tackled by Jordyn Peters well short because when it comes to special teams no one does it better than Jordyn Peters.

Two plays later, it was night night for the Cats.

Auburn runs a “Post-Wheel” concept to perfection on this score. Seth Williams is lined up outside and runs a post which takes the safety into the middle of the field. Eli Stove is in the slot and is matched up with an outside linebacker. Gotta think Bo knew he had 6 on this play before the snap.

Solid protection around Bo and he drops a perfect pass into Stove’s arms. When he feels comfortable in the pocket and is reading the field he’s the 5-star player we all know he can be. It’s just about doing that every snap. When that happens, watch out...

Also, again please note that the running back comes out of the backfield as a check down option. I keep bringing attention to the backs and tight ends to let you know that they are very much apart of the plan and were Saturday. Just because they don’t get any targets doesn’t mean Auburn isn’t trying to use them. I expect you will see Nix start using them more often as he gets more comfortable in this system.

War Eagle!