Really strange game on offense. We nearly doubled their offensive output. The game never really felt "in danger," but it also never felt like we were in control (at least not to the extent that every statistic but the score would tell you). 351 yards isn’t a monster output or anything, but it’s not embarrassing either. At times, we moved the ball pretty well. At times, we did nothing. The passing game never got ‘N Sync (Joey Fatone style) all night. The run game was mostly gash or nothing. Who am I and why does nothing in this world make sense right now!?!
At one point, Todd Blackledge commented that Auburn’s DTs "were getting great penetration all night." I couldn’t disagree with that sentiment any more. They did practically nothing. Well, if you count being deposited 8 yards downfield by La’El Collins as something, they did something.
75 total plays
Ace Formation: 17 plays (5 with Copeland lined up as H-Back)
Shotgun, Single Back: 13 plays
Shotgun, 2RB: 7 plays
I-Formation: 35 plays
Empty: 1 play
GL Set: 2
Our intentions seemed to be to grind the middle of their defense, exposing their meager DT play and the weakness of LB Jake Holland (oh boy did he have a bad day at the office). Our run-game is typically pretty off-tackle heavy and we certainly incorporated that, but I saw more draws and dives than in a given game. Passing wise, we worked to set up their defensive backs (who really played well) with slants early, hoping to set up some double-move downfield attacks later. The attacks worked insomuch as guys got open. They didn’t work insomuch as Odell Beckham dropped the ball. We were clearly worried about their pass rush and did a lot of helping the tackles with TEs and backs. We also tried to use a little PA and rolling the pocket, neither of which worked particularly well.
Overall, I didn’t have any major issues with the intentions of the attack. Execution proved to be more damning in this game.
A lot of guff about playcalling and adjustments, but really there wasn’t much to adjust. We had 172 yards of offense in the 1st half. They had 81. Not exactly, "throw out the game plan material." The offense struggled to convert third downs, and really, in my eyes, the main culprit being penalties, which often put us at a disadvantage either in terms of down and distance or poor field position.
For example, the Muncie INT occurred at the LSU 48. Lavar Edwards gets a personal foul (it was sorta weak, but I get why they called it), and we’re marched back to our own 24 and with a 1st and 15 after Clement gets a false start. We end up gaining 14 yards on the drive. I know you can’t speculate like that, but a first down pass for 10 yards from your own 48 would put you on the AU 42 and staring down FG range, at worst. Shit like that… Happened. All. Night.
Mettenberger: Not his best game. He moved us in and out of hurry-up at various points in the night. Not sure if that’s his call or the coaches. But he did it without much confusion/angst. No delay of games (has he taken one all year). Only one timeout I can remember being used due to confusion. He actually played within himself quite a bit. He wasn’t a shell, but he seemed to be pretty cognizant of the fact that he didn’t need to be taking unnecessary risks to make shit happen. Let the offense come to you. A real Field of Dreams perspective.
He throws timing routes exceptionally well, both in terms of delivery and placement. Ball is almost always on the money, at the right time. It’s pitch and catch for him. Connected with Beckham early for a 9-yarder on a timing comeback. Early on, you see a bit of the QB evolution. It’s 1st and 10 from the AU 11. We’re staring down the GL. We’re in the I-Formation. Mett comes to the line and immediately spots the CB playing about 10 yards off Landry. Takes a quick snap and nails a wide open Landry on the quick slant. This is all Mett. Line was run blocking. It was a communication between he and Landry. Really nice to see QB/WR on same page. He saw it again later, but lead Landry too much, and it was broken up.
Still feel really confident in his ability going forward. He manipulates the pocket so effectively. He stands tall when he needs to. He moves around as he needs to. Takes off if he must. Early play we had Beckham wide open deep, but PJ and Hurst both completely beat and Mett had to step up and take the checkdown. Winded up being a 6-yard gain. Could have been a TD. That’s how you wind up 12-10 vs. Auburn. Regardless, good job by Mett to move in the pocket and keep his wits to make a play. Strip sack is one example of him not having the presence. Dwor was clearly beaten, but Mett kinda panicked and ends up fumbling. Later he stands tall and takes a huge hit, but delivers a strike to Boone for a key conversion. Really subtle pump (enough to influence D) on the Beckham slant and go. Beautiful toss as well. Beautiful back-shoulder toss to Boone. Really winged one deep to Shep. Was a great throw. Shep didn’t come down with it, but that’s not surprising because he’s never developed ball skills.
One interesting thing that struck me. Right before the half, we all be conceded to head to the locker room and Ware ripped off a big run putting us in potential scoring territory. In year’s past, I’m pretty convinced Miles would have ran it three times and be content to take it on it. This year? We threw three straight passes. There’s more trust there. There’s more ability there.
He started the game 6/7, hitting 5 different WRs. His numbers really took a fall. He probably should never scramble. Doesn’t throw well on the run. Ended 15/27 for 169, 1 TO.
Ware: He’s back. When right, he’s our best back. He does it all. Blocking, running, catching. He’s a true, three-down back. Vision, and explosion through the hole. He may not have that 5th gear, but he’s got speed enough to get you large chunks. Defenders regret challenging him. They almost always end up going backward. On one play, he blasted Erique Florence AND Jake Holland together and muscled ahead for an extra yard. Caught the ball out of the backfield well, with the biggest being the 4th quarter conversion that more or less sealed the game. Beautiful 28-yard run early, even after stumbling. Little stutter-step got makes Whitehead miss and he’s off. Lined up out wide in empty set. Wouldn’t mind seeing a bubble screen out of that.
Early in the second half, he made an absolutely apathetic attempt at a chip on Dee Ford, who completely abused Hurst on got into Mett’s legs (ended up being a gain anyhow, but throw was altered). Next play? DESTROYED Ford. He was, apparently, disgusted with his own effort. Monster chip. One mistake while running. We ran a draw late. Williford’s block wasn’t very good, but the hole was there. Copeland laid an hellacious block on Holland. Huge space for Ware to run. Instead, he tries to bubble it outside Williford and goes for a 2-3 yard gain. If he stayed inside, could have been 10+. Offensive MVP of the day. 16/90 on the ground. 2/44 in the air.
Ford: Didn’t get a ton of run. Early stretch play was not blocked well, but he used his speed to get a few anyhow. That’s what he brings to the table. Best play of the night came on the "Flip 90" (this is what I call the play where he fake the give to Copeland inside and Mett pitches out to the RB, typically Ford. Also the play he scored on.). Ford got on the edge one-on-one with Lemonier. Lemonier had no chance. Ford shakes and bakes and picks up a few. Got an 18-yarder on a really well blocked draw play. Think he made a mistake and ran the wrong way on a counter, which Mett had to scramble to follow blocking. Finished 8/41 1 TD. They don’t ask him to block.
Hilliard: Caught a pass. Showed really nice patience on one run, picking and waiting for hole to develop before exploding through for 12-yard gain. Not much else of note. Finished 10/40 on the ground, 1/7 in the air.
Hill: Took Blue’s spot in the shotgun/2 RB formation. No touches. Think he made a mistake on Lemonier’s 2ndsack. He went straight into route, whereas Ware gave a chip before breaking out. Play proves to be a real killer. We could have gotten three here. Did a nice job otherwise. Speaks well for his future that coaches trust him as a blocker so early.
Copeland: Lined up like an H-Back a lot, which I found interesting. Can’t remember this wrinkle before. He killed Jake Holland a couple of times. Picked up a couple of yards on a carry. Got in a handfight with safety McNeal, who wound up making tackle on a run play.
Neighbors: Only noticed one play and he absolutely crushed Daren Bates. Beautiful block. Get you some, big boy.
Beckham: Good comeback route early on timing play. Got deep a couple times. Dropped a good deep ball. Blocking was okay. Does it feel like big plays are on the cusp for him? Finished 2/15.
Landry: I wish they’d consider him on the outside more. Almost always in the slot. I suppose they value his run blocking there the most. Nice communication with Mett on early slant. Settled into soft spot of the zone off a slant later. Nice job by him. Took a big hit late, but held on to the ball. Also, a little injury scare on punt coverage, but he turned out to be fine. Had a holding call against him that was kinda meh. Looked like he was trying to hold and failed, but they still called it, haha. Finished 3/23.
Wright: Consistent blocker. Dropped one pass and bobbled another. Finished 3/25.
Shep: Really odd blocking attempt once. We motioned him down, off the line, but right outside Hurst’s outside shoulder. He stayed in to protect but in the end it looked like he was just blocking Hurst. Dunno what he was doing. Ran a couple of jet sweeps. 4 yards on one. Better gain on the second, but thrown out by holding. A shame. He made a nice move too. Got open (enough) on a deep ball that Mett threw a catchable ball for. He dropped it. As previously mentioned… lack of ball skills show.
Boone: He's quickly becoming Mr. Reliable in a receiving core that drops the ball a ton. The chemistry between he and Mett is evident. All those reps they took together last year? They mean something. He needs a bigger role. He's getting open too much and catching everything to not. He may be the worst blocker of the core, but considering the struggles with drops thus far, you deal with that to his hands and playmaking ability onto the field.
Clement: He’s really such a good blocker. Really nice blitz pick-up at one point. Did catch a pass on an easy out. His cut block on Craig Sanders allowed Ford to score our lone TD. Smoked Lemonier when sealing edge. 2 false starts. First one, I don’t get. Second one… ugh.
Jacobs: Had a false start. Destroyed Lemonier one play. Played a decent amount, but nothing noteworthy.
Dwor: Lots of criticisms of his play. Some of it warranted. Some of it excessive. Based on this game, he is a mediocre pass blocker that will need help in those situations. However, he’s superb at man-on-man blocking. He dominated Lemonier in the run game, practically all night. But, he also struggles getting to that 2nd level that causes so many big runs to spring. Multiple times runs were killed because he whiffed or was too slow to get to the LB who made the tackle. I get that Bates (usually the guy he missed) is a good talent. But he’s got to hit some of those blocks.
Strip/sack play was odd. He went for a cut, which is usually the sign of a quick pass, but Mett is set up for something deeper. Think he may have messed up the playcall and then did a bad job executing cut anyhow.
Whiffed on Gabe Wright getting Ware smoked in backfield. Whoof. Lemonier just plain out-athleted him on the 2ndsack. Lemonier did line up wide (maybe an 8 tech? Didn’t look wide enough for 9). Dwor’s feet look stuck in mud. Lemonier explodes up field, then blows by with a rip move for an easy sack. Even still, I think Hill may have busted on this play. Only battles he lost to Lemonier in run game were when Lemonier would use a quick move inside. Did get blown into the backfield once.
Collins: Monster game. He abused AU all night. DE, DT, LB, S, CB, doesn’t matter. They all regretted crossing his path. So powerful, but so athletic too. Equally effective in man-on-man blocking as pulling and getting to the 2ndlevel. Just opened up holes all night long. Made Jake Holland his bitch all night. Poor Jake Holland (I don’t really feel sorry for him at all). Most impressive play of the night though comes when Lemonier lines up on his outside shoulder in full pass rush mode. Collins absolutely handled him. Engaged him, got his hands on him, and just stood him up for nothing. Then he added a little extra for good measure. Impressive. He’s as good as we hoped, folks. Strong, athletic and nasty.
PJ: Solid night. DTs were quiet all night. He got some good reach blocks. One terrible play he got beat badly inside AND held. Mostly a good job all night, though.
Williford: Maybe I’m just a skeptic, but he just rarely impresses me. He’s just kind of a body out there. Much better at straight-on power blocking than when asked to pull/trap, etc. We ran a counter late that was really sloppy all the way around. He was pulling and missed his guy and then did this weird sorta "oh shit" reach at Lemonier, who blew up the play entirely. He did a solid enough job all night, just never stands out on tape.
Hurst: This is getting tough to watch week-in and week-out. He seems to be regressing. Got beat quite a bit. Can’t handle any sort of speed on the outside. His best block of the night he drove a guy about 3 yards up the field… almost into the hole, killing the play. Maybe I’m being harsh, but his play worries me.
Porter: Came in for PJ due to injury. Fumbled a snap, which is not what you want to do when trying to make a case for PT. Elliot said post game it was all in his grand plan for us to win 12-10.