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The Real Strength of Auburn’s Offense

By on December 18th, 2013 in Football 10 Comments »

                                                                                            (photo:David Carson, Post Dispatch)
There is no secret to No. 2 Auburn’s success this year, it has been a smooth running and powerful ground offensive. The Tigers have chewed up yardage faster than Gen. Stormin Norman’s troops did in the first Gulf War.

Field Marshall Gus Malzahn‘s squad leads the nation in rushing with 335.7 yards per game. And what has been the most impressive thing about it … they’ve done it in the SEC West, the toughest division in college football.

Each game this year the pundits have said Auburn could not win with a heavy emphasis on the running game. How’d that work out? Early in the season they ran for 379 yards against No. 7 Texas A&M, then at the end of the year they put close to 300 on Alabama (the nation’s No.4 defense). Along the way, Tre Mason became the first back to gain over 100 yards rushing against seven SEC opponents.

When the Tigers faced the SEC’s No.2 rushing defense (Missouri) in the league championship, they completely blew away Alabama’s record of 350 yards the Tide set against Georgia in last year’s game.

Auburn blistered Mizzou, gashing the Black and Gold Tigers for big gains almost at will; finishing the night at 677 total yards with 545 coming on the ground.

The dilemma for opposing defenses in trying to stop Auburn has been first figuring out who has the ball. Will Quarterback Nick Mrshall keep it, throw it, or hand off to Tre Mason to run up the middle? Or maybe Cory Grant or Ricardo Louis will get it on a speed sweep?  By the time the puzzle has been figured out the Tigers may have gotten 7 or more yards.

When Auburn is clicking the defenses gets confused, worn down, and feel besieged. And so do the opposing coaches. Mizzou’s Gary Pinkel was asked after the championship game if there is any way to stop Auburn’s offense. A frustrated and beleaguered Pinkel said , “You know what, I’m the wrong person to ask because I’d have stopped it if I could have.”

So what has been the key to Auburn’s successful attack? First it’s been a quarterback that runs the option read almost to perfection. Second, you have to give credit to the way that Tre Mason not only runs the ball but works seamlessly with Marsahll to sell the fakes. Then there is the real strength of the offense … the O-Line. In football everything begins up front.

And with a consistent offensive line that gives the runners lanes to run free, there’s not much to stop Marshall and company from having a day like they did against Mizzou with Marshall getting 101 yards and Mason 304.

“They work their tails off every day,” Mason said. “Those guys open up some of the biggest holes that I’ve ever seen.” Tight End C.J. Uzomah agreed, “Numbers don’t lie. Our O-Line … (opens) some holes that a bus could fit through.”

Strength and Conditioning Coach Ryan Russell deserves a lot of credit for improving the unit’s strength and stamina. In addition, O-Line Coach J.B. Grimes has done a fantastic job of coaching and developing the big uglies. Depth has also played an important role. If a second string man has to come in, the Tigers don’t miss a beat.

It was particularly satisfying to see some of them get recognition in the past few days. Left Tackle Greg Robinson was named first Team All SEC by the AP and and Third Team All-American by both the Sporting News and the Associated Press. While Guard Alex Kozan was named Freshman All-American by the Sporting News. And Center Reese Dismukes was named All-SEC and All-American by Athlon Sports, the Sporting News, and the AP.

As an Auburn fan, you have to feel pretty good about the strength of Auburn’s offense. Yet there’s no denying the Tigers will have their work cut out for them when they take on the Florida State Seminoles January 6th in the BCS National Championship; but so will FSU when they try to figure out how to stop the nation’s No.1 rushing team.

War Eagle … Beat the Noles!


  1. KoolBell KoolBell says:

    FSU can talk all the talk they want. Even with 30 days to prepare, they still have to perform at a level above LSU, Alabama, Georgia, and Mizzou’s defense. I’ll believe that they can, when I see it.

    There is a world of difference between Wake Forest, Duke, and the list of teams FSU built their numbers against vs the SEC West.


  2. War Eagle Girl War Eagle Girl says:

    I am so calm about this game. In 2010, not having experienced anything like that, it was more nerve racking. Doing it again so soon and with the coaching leadership ~ I just feel confident but not cocky confidence. The mad genius will be ready and he has the team believing. Not sure FSU ~having not been in a long time ~ knows what is ahead with all the hoopla. Experience does make a difference. And they haven’t struggled much this season.

    No matter, I am still proud of the redemption these young men have earned and know that only GREAT things are ahead for them in whatever they do in life (but a National Championship would be the cherry on top!)

    Can I go to Pasadena tomorrow?

    #WeComin’ #WarEagle #BeatFSU

  3. Tiger on the mountain Tiger on the mountain says:

    I don’t know if I give the ‘lack of experience’ much credence…..after all in 2010, the last MNC that we had was…well you know the story. If it didn’t hamstring us, then I doubt it will hamstring the ‘Noles. It’s not like Jimbo Fisher and Co are slack coaches.

    I do think that caliber of opponent is relevant. Their toughest games were Miami and Clemson. Clemson always lays an egg and that was a pretty big one. Miami was overrated from the beginning. FSU dominated all on their schedule, as they should have. When you have a permissive schedule like that, you dominate or go the way of Ohio St.

    All I know is that once again we are hearing how Auburn will not be able to run against the Noles’ D. That’s something that I will believe when I see it. The thing is every other team this year knew we were coming with the heat in the run game…..yet no one could stop it. Not Georgia. Not Bama. Not Mizzou. All of those teams have better run defenses than FSU.

    These Tigers have gotten stronger every single week. And I doubt that we’ve seen their best game yet. Fear The Run.
    #WeComin War Eagle!

    • KungFuPanda9 KungFuPanda9 says:

      Tiger, that has been the tale for Auburn every run up to the NCG.

      In 2010, the talking heads picked against us every game. In the beginning of the season it was that Cam could run but he couldn’t pass. (How absurd that is looking back on it now.)

      Later in the season their talking points included, Auburn’s defense won’t be able to stop Georgia’s powerful offense. Auburn’s defense won’t be able to handle Alabama’s offense, and the Tiger’s offense will finally meet their match against Bama’s defense. Auburn’s defense will not be able to handle Oregon’s speed.

      Now in 2013 it is deja vu all over again. Nick Marshall can’rt pass. Auburn’s offense is one dimensional. Auburn won’t be able to stop Arkansas, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Missouri. Auburn’s offense won’t be able to run against Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama, Missouri.

      And now, Auburn doesn’t have the athletes across the board like FSU.

      Remember how our secondary wasn’t going to have a chance against the tall receivers of Mizzou. Well, fourth quarter our little guys broke up pass plays and prevented any score. Mixzzou had their worst outing of the season.

      And herein lies the matchup with us and FSU. Mizzou played well against a weak SEC East. Their defensive numbers looked impressive because they had not played quality offense. Same with FSU.

      If our defensive line can get to Winston, FSU will be in a dog fight they never thought possible.

      We will know early on if they can stop the run. If they can, it will be edge of your seat time.

      • win4au says:

        “If our defensive line can get to Winston, FSU will be in a dog fight they never thought possible.”
        You are correct sir! …see the 1st quarter of the Duke game. Plus, our O will speed it up and gas their D.
        In this game we are playing with house money. I still can’t believe our season has ended up like this.

    • win4au says:

      I did not realize UGA and Mizz had a better run-D than Free Shoes U. I figured Bama does, but not the other two. Hell, if that’s the case, we’re golden! Look at at the rushing yards we stacked up on those teams.
      323 on UGA
      545 on Mizz
      296 on bama
      I say we put up 388 on fsu

  4. domaucan1 domaucan1 says:

    In my humble opinion, the REAL strength of this bunch of Auburn Tigers is their hearts. Those hearts were wounded last year and these guys have mended, not only their hearts, but also ALL the hearts of the entire Auburn Family. They have worked very hard and deserve every bit of praise they have been given and will be given.

    And, everyone knows, win or lose:


    WAR EAGLE !!!

    GO BIG BLUE !!!


  5. MyAuburn MyAuburn says:

    I agree we will be able to run the ball on FSU but….I am a little worried about the team speed of FSU. Our offense is all about match ups and getting them in our favor and making the defense wonder where the ball is going. It works but the ability of a very fast defensive player to recover from a bad position can erase the advantage of the offense.
    If FSUs defense can recover and still make a tackle it could limit our home run plays.

  6. wpleagle wpleagle says:

    MyAuburn, if they limit the home runs then I think we can grind it! I’m looking for Lashlee to be working with Nick on the short crossing passes and screens, and I’m confident that Tre/Corey/CAP with some help from Ricardo can keep the ball moving.

  7. MyAuburn MyAuburn says:

    We can definitely grind it out, but a home run every now and then sure helps the final score.