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Tigers Can’t Finish in Nashville.

By on October 21st, 2012 in Football, Uncategorized 15 Comments »

Moseley will be sacked again.

     War Eagle, everybody. It’s time now for the Acid Reign report, on Auburn disappointing 17-13 loss to the Vanderbilt Commodores. There were a few signs of life in this game, particularly on defense, but in the end, Auburn was unable to take this game away from a mistake-prone Commodore team. We’ll pick out plenty of errors in this game, but the most dreadful facet of this game was the continued regression of the offense.

     One would think that the way to help a struggling offense would be to simplify the game plan, but this week it seemed to take the Tigers even longer to get lined up to snap the ball. At least half of Auburn’s timeouts were used up to avoid getting delay of game penalties. This causes a snowball effect of not being able to check off, either on the play call, or even change the protection on pass plays. I’m not confident we’ll see that problem fixed, either. Offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler watched the game for three hours, and here’s what he said about the timing problems. “We’ve normally been very good with that. We’ve been breaking the huddle with 21, 22 seconds left on the clock. That wasn’t the case today, and I don’t know why.” Did he not have a chance to ASK, during a three plus hour game?

     All the usual suspects were once again present in this game on offense. The absolute refusal to repeat successful plays was the most maddening. A close second was a total inability to adjust. Vanderbilt ran the corner blitz off the short side of the field repeatedly, but Loeffler continued to call those short side runs with no lead blocker in the game. Maddening! And with the corner blitzing, Emory Blake was left one on one with a safety. Auburn threw him a catchable ball down the field just once. The right side of the offensive line was playing pretty poorly, but Loeffler continued to call running plays to that side 60 percent of the time. The Wildcat offense continues to produce drive-ending plays.

     Defensively, Auburn played pretty well about 80 percent of the game. However, both halves started with the defense looking helpless. Vanderbilt manhandled Auburn up front on those two drives, cashing in for their only two touchdowns in the ball game. Aside from those plays, Auburn tackled pretty well, ended drives, got off the field on 3rd down, stopped several 4th down tries, and produced three recovered fumbles. If you hold Vanderbilt to 17 points, you should win the game.

      Special Teams continue to be solid, if unspectacular this week. Cody Parkey played well once again. Auburn’s coverage units generally smothered return men, and Quan Bray fielded two of three punts. The one negative aspect of this unit is that return blocking was pretty poor this game. Neither Bray on punts, nor Onterio McCalebb on kickoffs had much room. McCalebb brought all three kickoffs out of the end zone, and never made it to the 25 yard line. However, the way the offense is playing, we have to try to score on the kick returns. Had McCalebb gotten loose once, it might have won the game.

Unit Grades, after the jump!

Defensive line: D-. Of the eight defensive linemen who played, only Nosa Eguae had more than one tackle, and he only had two. Vanderbilt ran 70 offensive plays, and the entire defensive line had only six tackles. Auburn’s lone sack was by a linebacker. When linemen did have a bead on Vanderbilt quarterback Jordan Rogers, he easily escaped. It’s a sad day when a line gets blown off the ball by Vanderbilt. I’ll give a passing grade due to a couple of timely 4th down stops.

Linebackers: C+. With Cassanova McKinzy getting his first start, Auburn now has about 2/3rds of a potentially capable linebacker corps on the field. There were times that McKinzy lost his gap, or went the wrong way, but way more often he chased the ball carrier down with authority. McKinzy finished with 12 total tackles, a forced fumble, and a recovery. Darren Bates seemed to revert to his diving at ankles methods of old, and his tackle total plummeted to only 4. He had been averaging around a dozen. Jonathan Evans was in on four tackles.

 

A picture’s worth a thousand words.

Secondary: B. There were blown assignments here and there, but this group had to cover for a long time with little pressure on the Vanderbilt quarterback. This group did a good job of tackling in the open field, and limiting the yards on frequent dump-off passes. Four of Auburn’s top five tacklers in this game were members of the secondary. Had a couple of really nice pass breakups by Jonathan Mincy and Joshua Holsey.

Punting: D+. There were a couple of pretty short punts out of Steven Clark’s seven that brought his average down to 40.1, but there were no opportunities for Vanderbilt return men, who managed only two punt return yards. Clark pinned the Commodores twice inside the 20. Why is this grade a D? I counted off a letter grade for each time Auburn ran into the punt returner and received a 15 yard penalty. How is this happening multiple times?

Kick Returns: D. Auburn brought three balls out of the end zone, and basically ran right at the first defender down the field, who often appeared to have been unblocked. Auburn averaged only 16 yards per return.

Place-kicking: A. Steven Clark continues to hammer the ball well, and converted all of his scoring opportunities. Three touchbacks on four kickoffs is a fine number. Points off on the one ball that was returnable, because Brian Kimbrow broke several tackles and gained 22 yards.

Offensive Line: F. As mentioned above, some of the reason for Auburn’s poor pass protection is not having time to alter protections. But far more often, Auburn was whipped up front. By Vanderbilt. This line gave up five sacks, and only one was a held-the-ball-too-long deal. Several times Vanderbilt brought only a three man rush, and Clint Moseley couldn’t even finish a five step drop before he was hit in the pocket. Run blocking was poor, also. Most of Auburn’s rushing yards came on outside runs behind Jay Prosch and Brandon Fulse.

Running Backs: B. For the first time all season, we saw Jay Prosch miss some blocks. Of course, his primary responsibility on pass plays was to block the defensive end on the right, because our line wasn’t going to do it. Auburn’s backs ran hard when they had a chance, but out of Auburn’s 24 running back carries, only about five were called with both a fullback and a tight end leading it. I’d like to see at least half of our runs power-blocked. Auburn ran just 54 plays, and Tre Mason had only 16 carries, and only a third of those were with any lead blocker. He’s being criminally misused.

Receivers: B+. Auburn’s Jaylon Denson got his first start, and he did a pretty good job of blocking. Of course, there was zero chance he was going to be thrown to, and Vanderbilt knew it, leaving him completely uncovered a lot of the time. Vanderbilt’s much ballyhooed secondary had a lot of coverage mistakes, and white shirts flew around behind them frequently. Auburn only tried three deep passes the whole game, connecting on a deep cross to a wide open Emory Blake to set up Auburn’s only touchdown. Brandon Fulse had a good game blocking, and C.J. Uzomah didn’t look bad as the new receiving tight end. We’ll sure miss Phillip Lutzenkirchen, but we’ll be o. k. at that position.


Quarterback: C. In most cases, you’d think that a 70 percent completion percentage and no turnovers would mean a great day at quarterback. Instead, Auburn only attempted three of 20 passes more than 8 yards down the field. Of Auburn’s 15 completions, 14 of them were for short gains, and tackled immediately most of the time. On the day, Clint Moseley only generated 4.9 yards per pass. On two downfield balls, Moseley hit Blake on the 24 yard cross, but missed him wide open in the end zone on a post pattern. On the last play of the game, Auburn bent the Vanderbilt zone till it broke, leaving Sammie Coates wide open with no defender in his quarter of the field! And Moseley threw the ball out of bounds on 4th down. We also saw several third and long passes dumped underneath with no chance of making the first down. Jonathan Wallace showed some zip on his first career pass, a quick screen to Ricardo Lewis for a first down. Naturally, we never tried that play again.

     I have a suggestion if we’re going to run the wildcat and seldom pass the ball. Let’s run it with Mason taking the snap. If the coaches are to be believed, Moseley is playing because Frazier is injured. That leaves us with only two scholarship quarterbacks available, and Moseley has a sore shoulder, which may have affected his ability to throw down the field. Why on earth would you run your only other guy up the middle repeatedly, till he fumbles or gets hurt? Especially when Tre Mason is only getting 16 carries, let’s distribute the wealth more wisely!

     More wisdom from offensive uncoordinator Scot Loeffler: “The second half we started a great drive and ended up with second-and-20. That’s not the team that we are. We can’t be off schedule. When we are off schedule, it’s hard for us to play. We played third down-and-7-plus the whole game. That’s not who we are.” No Mr. Loeffler, that IS who you are! We have successful plays, and you lift the players who made it happen. How do we wait till the last play of the game to throw it towards Sammie Coates, who’s shown the ability to make spectacular catches? It’s absolutely mind-blowing how this offense operates.

     Auburn’s dim bowl hopes have flatlined in Nashville. To make the postseason now, Auburn will have to win every game left on the schedule. With Texas A&M, New Mexico State, Georgia, Alabama A&M and Alabama still on the docket, that’s very unlikely to happen. Realistically, what Auburn must do now is concentrate on getting better. Four of Auburn’s last five are at home, and with the support of the Auburn faithful, it’s time to get better and work out the kinks. I plan to do my part next weekend, in the stands once again and cheering for our Tigers. Even at 1-6, they are our team, and we support them. It’s great to be an Auburn Tiger!

15 Comments

  1. AubTigerman AubTigerman says:

    Good review Acid .

    I think you summed up Auburn’s biggest woes for the whole year when you said, ”

    “The absolute refusal to repeat successful plays was the most maddening. A close second was a total inability to adjust. Vanderbilt ran the corner blitz off the short side of the field repeatedly, but Loeffler continued to call those short side runs with no lead blocker in the game. Maddening! And with the corner blitzing, Emory Blake was left one on one with a safety. Auburn threw him a catchable ball down the field just once. The right side of the offensive line was playing pretty poorly, but Loeffler continued to call running plays to that side 60 percent of the time. The Wildcat offense continues to produce drive-ending plays.”

    To use your words it is just …maddening!’

    Your right though, they’re our team and right now we have to support them.

  2. Tiger on the mountain Tiger on the mountain says:

    Acid, your analysis lays out the problems in black and white. Additionally, what is more disturbing is that the OC is completely clueless as to what the problem is and therefore has no hope to fix it.

    It’s simple. Bench Loeffler. Give the keys to Luper or Trooper–preferably Luper. In the limited plays that Wallace has been given, he looks better than either of our starters-and this includes his fumbles. Imagine what would happen if this young man was allowed to get into a rhythm?

    This team has too much talent to be doing so poorly. If the coaches are going to be stubborn and not change a d__m thing, I hope they realize incompetence is ‘just cause’ in a buy out situation.

  3. autiger.1991 autiger.1991 says:

    Agreed on Loeffler. Since when does Auburn call a pass play on third and two???AGAINST VANDY ???
    AND why would you call a two yard out pass on third and eight?????
    This is embarrassing!

    • Bren Dekura Bren Dekura says:

      Why would you call a sweep to OMac on third and short when you’re in 4 down territory and your leading RB is averaging around 5 yards per carry?

  4. Jonathon Jonathon says:

    On some level I am left to believe that Chizik sees the writing on the wall. Letting Loeffler play this season out is just like letting your true freshman backup QB play for the experience. Chizik made the hire so he’s probably sticking by his choice – just as Jay Jacobs will with Chizik. There’s a lot, {repeat} A LOT of finger pointing going on now. It probably is all warranted.
    The flip side of the coin is that the Auburn players aren’t playing with conviction. Meaning, on a 3rd and 12 play when the QB ends up winging it out to an RB instead of the better bet down field – that just means the guys down field aren’t getting open and the RB is the last check down – not necessarily the original play call from the sideline, just a product of the play development. With an O-Line that cannot block for hours on end, the QB is force to make faster check downs as the D is in hot pursuit.

    What I’m saying is that it might be two-fold as described above. This lack of confidence and ‘want’ from the players doesn’t allow the play calling to develop in its purest form. It happens for the other team. Those 3rd and long plays that Auburn cannot stop is in part to the other team’s focus to ‘get it done’ because they believe that the win is for a larger good. I don’t think that Auburn players right now think that a win will do anything to save this season. We aren’t going to a bowl game, we look like the worst team in the SEC and the media plasters all of that all over social media outlets. What are we playing for right now? Does anyone see NFL talent exiting this roster at season’s end? And I don’t mean NFL practice squad talent.

    The coaches are lost because when you hit the ‘rock bottom’ as they are doing, there’s no turning around – as precedent shows. Your job is inevitably gone. The players know it just as much as the coaches.

    At 7.5 million dollars, Chizik will be just fine. Odds are he might even end up in the NFL as a coordinator as his resume on that note is spectacular. The odds he finds another head coaching job in the SEC or in 1-A is probably slim to none.

    We as Auburn fans are hurt. I know it, you know it. The players and coaches know it. Change is coming and those unit grades will not improve as the year wears on, at least not against a conference opponent. We’re basically raw meat to an untamed SEC schedule.

    Acid Reign has done a spectacular job dissecting each game, week in and week out. Also, I am die hard an Auburn fan/graduate can be for football season. I will have every hope that next year will be great, as I do with every season. I’m just anxious to see how all this plays out at season’s end. I’m not opposed to letting these guys keep on for the remaining games knowing that Jay Jacobs is involved. I’m more worried as to who we go after next. I’m not sold on anyone as of yet, but I’d like for someone to make a ‘strong case’ for who might be next – beyond the name and present success.

    WDE!! I welcome Texas A&M this next week and I hope the same Auburn team that played LSU shows up for it. I also have full confidence that the Iron Bowl is our Coup de Gras and we can still keep our Auburn fire burning with a good showing. Heck, maybe we just toss out our prep for any game and just focus on Bama at this point!

    • Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

      …..Thank you, Jonathan! I think prepping for the Iron Bowl now is pretty futile. We can only hope they overlook us. We’ve got to get the junk FIXED. No running into punt returners. If I guy’s uncovered, we’ve got to check to it before the snap. Run behind the good blockers. Simple stuff.

      …..LSU showed us this week that “Johnny Football” can be knocked off his game, if you bring the heat. Let’s beat Texas A&M, and see where we can go from there.

      • mikeautiger says:

        Great report Acid. Now is not the time for faint of heart! Time to keep working, trying to get better and even start playing for next year. Give it the old college try, experiment, fix problems, build a foundation of fundamentals for next game and year.
        I will be there Saturday, breaking out all the lucky cloths from head to toe and pulling for our kids and coaches. If you leave early don’t come by the walkway in section forty, I’ll be heckling you sorry whiners who don’t have the guts to stand by your team. Never left a game early up or down in the score and I do not plan to start now. The team needs us. No matter what the crises the greatest thing you can give someone is your presence. It says I’m with you, I feel your pain, I love you and sticking by you cause it will get better. That is how we earn the right to celebrate with them when they win a game, a SEC, or an National Championship. If we cannot support these guys now then we can’t come back and celebrate whenwe win this year or another Championship next year.
        Lets go Tiger fans lets rock the game Saturday, all-in or get the heck out.

        War Eagle

  5. MyAuburn myauburn says:

    Franklin debacle be damned, Loeffler needs to be fired or demoted now!!!. He is clueless calling plays and his QB coaching has not yielded good results either. Find him a high school job, he may be able to handle that. On second thought, probably not…sweeps to the the short side of the field don’t work at that level either.
    I understand Chizik sticking by his guy but sometimes you hire the wrong person and have to cut your losses when you find out. I have done it before, it is unpleasant but you have to do it to preserve your business/football team.
    On who else needs to go, I am undecided but am inclined to go with a house cleaning from JJ on down. I want to see AU at the top of the SEC again before I sign my final check.

  6. plains74 says:

    It has gotten to the point that none of my Tide nemises write me anymore. Even the worst ones who usually are the most obnoxious are no where to be found. We are so bad that they do not get any joy out of rubbing this in. What that really means is that they do not see us as any type of factor to their dominance on the field or recruting. Unless some changes are made sooner than later, they will be correct for several years to come.
    I lived through the nine year drought where they beat us year in and year out in the seventies until Barfield and co departed. I really hope not to see that again!

  7. Jonathon Jonathon says:

    To Plains74:

    Agreed, my Bama friends have laid low… for the most part. I also get a real kick out of the few people these days that bring up Barfield. I was at Auburn in the mid to late 90s. My passion for the football program has grown leaps and bounds beyond my graduation and in all that time, Barfield was never on my radar. It guess it’s one of those things that you want to forget, but now those times are repeating itself.

    I doubt though that we’ll stick with this type of season for 8 more years to come as you relate it to Barfield. The days have changed, the pay has risen, the expectations are so much more heavily weighed with the media that WE cannot afford to let rock bottom seasons happen. Especially when you are one of the latest teams to have ‘won it all.’ Chizik is paid insane amounts of money to not just compete, but to do it with a winning record and to collect some major trophies along the way. No one can expect you to do it one year and then low ball those expectations from there on out. That’s not our nature or what the contractual obligations demand. It becomes even more pressed when your biggest rival sits atop the food chain year in and year out. That’s an extra pressure you have to live up to or at least be competitive with – we’ve not been competitive in any facet sans 2010 with Chizik. 8 wins in a season is okay, but it still didn’t get us to the SEC Championship game. We kind of expect that time of success if you can win a National Championship. Chizik has seemingly dug his own grave.

  8. spanky says:

    College is the proving ground for coaches. I think where we may be having issues is that no one wants to admit that their system is wrong, thereby saying they aren’t good coaches, so they stick with it hoping it’ll fix itself. I’m not one for drastic changes, but I don’t like sticking with something once it goes stale either. Hopefuly the winds of change are starting to blow on the plains.

  9. wde1988 wde1988 says:

    Lost to vandy!

    I wish i knew what was going to happen to my alma matter.

    No clue. God help us!

    WDE

  10. fasttimes says:

    did anyone see the ONE pass they let wallace throw? it had pace and was out in front of the receiver so he could make the catch instead of having it thrown 2 feet behind them. I know the saying about he backup qb being the most popular guy on the team when the starter is palying badly, but should they not be trying everything? lets play EVERYONE, so next year everyone has some experience. we won’t have to hear how inexperienced the team is.