Know Thy Enemy: Auburn Mike Tufano September 15, 2014 Features, Know Thy Enemy 2014 SCHEDULEArkansas 21 Auburn 45San Jose St 13 Auburn 599/18 @ K-STATE9/27 Louisiana Tech10/4 LSU10/11 @ Mississippi State10/25 South Carolina11/1 @ Ole Miss11/8 Texas A&M11/15 @ Georgia11/22 Samford11/29 @ Alabama AUBURN TIGERS 2-0 (0-0 SEC) Location: Auburn, Alabama Enrollment: 25,469 Colors: Burnt Orange and Navy Blue Conference: Southeastern Conference Stadium: Jordan-Hare Stadium (87,451) 2013 Overall Record: 12-2 2013 Conf. Record/Finish: 7-1/1st (West), SEC Champion Postseason: BCS Championship, runner up All time series: Auburn leads 3-0 Last Meeting: K-State 13 Auburn 23 (9/1/2007) Twitter: @AuburnTigers; @FootballAU Head Coach Gus Malzahn Head Coach: Gus Malzahn Overall Record (Yrs): 23-5 (3) Record at School (Yrs): 14-2 (2) Record vs. K-State: First meeting Gus Malzahn is arguably one of the best offensive minds in college football. Success breeds that sort of praise, and with Chip Kelly leaving a year ago to go to the NFL, and Guy Malzahn’s turn around at Auburn, he became the heir apparent to the title. Malzahn is only in his 3rd year as a head coach. Unlike some of the current coaching trends of hiring gold boy former quarterbacks, Malzahn came through the system the old fashioned way. He was a walk on player of no note at Arkansas, and then worked his way through the high school ranks, notably asking great college coaches for advice along the way. Eventually he found himself on Gene Chizik’s Auburn staff and led the offense in Auburn’s 2010 National Championship run. As a head coach, he spent one season at Arkansas State, and led them to a Sun Belt Conference Championship before heading back to Auburn as the head coach… and leading the worst to first turnaround. Nick Marshall, Senior Quarterback Tiger Offense Passing Offense: 214 yds/game; 91st overall Rushing Offense: 330 yds/game; 7th overall Scoring Offense: 52 point/game; 5th overall #14 Nick Marshall – QB It’s been a long and winding road for Nick Marshall. Recruited as an “athlete” he joined the 2011 Georgia Bulldogs as a cornerback, but was dismissed from the team with rumors of theft as the reason. He took it as an opportunity to play quarterback, and headed to Garden City Community College to give it a shot. Recruited by K-State, he ultimately chose Auburn. More trouble found him (which is really the nice way of saying he got caught with pot). He wasn’t arrested, and was punished by sitting the first half in the season opener against Arkansas. He’s a dynamic runner,and a serviceable passer. Snyder has contradicted the idea that he’s not a good passer, but we’ve heard that sort of thing before. He does have an incredibly athletic receiving corps led by Samie Coates (who was injured for their last game, but expects to play Thursday), and D’haquille Williams. Those two, among others, can make up for a lot of his mistakes. #44 Cameron Artis-Payne – RB One of the questions headed into Auburn’s season was how they would replace their Heisman finalist running back, Tre Mason. Cameron Artis-Payne, who didn’t see much work a year ago has demonstrated himself to be more than capable. In his first two games as the starter he has 289 yards on 42 carries, including 4 TDs. That’s an average of 6.9 yards per carry against Arkansas and San Jose State. He’s a big, tough back that has a quick step, and is tough to bring down. No arm tackles! Hurry Up No Huddle: An Offensive Philosophy Click to view on Amazon I’ve already mentioned that he’s considered a great offensive mind. Almost everyone these days is running a hurry up, no huddle offense, but Malzahn wrote the book on it. Literally. While coaching high school football in Springdale, Arkansas, the success of Malzahn’s offense was creating copy cats throughout the state, so Malzahn figured he’d capitalize on it and publish a book. Unlike most current offenses in this trend, Auburn is not a pass first offense. As a head coach or offensive coordinator on the collegiate level Malzahn teams have never run more passing plays than they do running plays. Last year at Auburn 72% of the plays from scrimmage were runs. Montravious Adams, Sophomore DT Tiger Defense Points against: 17 points/game; 21st overall Give us the yards It’s a small sample size thus far to say that Auburn’s defense has improved from a year ago. In their first two games they’ve given up an average of 329 yards. That is down a ton from last season’s 420 yards per game. With the standard SEC narrative being one that’s all about defense, Auburn has turned that myth on its head by winning the SEC without playing solid defense. #1 Montravious Adams – DT Given the unimpressive defensive statistics, it’s tough to find standout players on the team. That’s not to say they’re bad. Far from it. But their standout thus far has to be defensive tackle Montravious Adams. Keep an eye on him as they battle the K-State offensive line that seems to have found its groove despite having questions headed into the season. #8 Cassanova McKinzy – LB There’s a lot of power in the front 7 of Auburn. McKinzy is their leading tackler through 2 games. He has the ability to drop into coverage, and he’s a ball hound. And his name is Cassanova, which is pretty awesome. Man Up Defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson’s philosophy is to run a pure man defense. There has been talk of him breaking that trend, and may need to if he’s going to try and match his corners with Tyler Lockett’s ability to run routes and make plays. Their secondary is definitely beatable. They have speed, but they tend to gamble on interceptions. Make them miss, and our wide receivers could have a big day. And then there’s this… We all know his isn’t the sort of game Bill Snyder typically schedules. We can blame this one on Ron Prince (or thank him for the opportunity?) Watch out on punt returns for #4, Quan Bray. He’s not the most targeted wide receiver on the team, but he’s all sorts of explosive returning punts. We gave up one to Iowa State and eventually recovered. Recovering from this against Auburn could be tough. Has any program been more up and down to extremes than Auburn? When we last faced them in 2007 they were coming off a win in the Cotton Bowl. They were still good in 2007, but then finished the next two years without being bowl eligible. In 2010 they bought Cam Newton and a national title, and again missed bowls eligibility in 2012. And of course the next year they were BCS National Championship Runner Up. It took a miracle with 13 seconds left for Florida State to beat them in last year’s title game, but don’t forget, it also took a miracles for them to beat Texas A&M, Georgia, and Alabama last season. Football is a game of inches, and all that.