After Auburn got embarrassed at home by Tennessee last weekend, ESPN color analyst and former Vanderbilt quarterback Jordan Rodgers tweeted out something that should get Ole Miss defensive coordinator Wesley McGriff’s attention heading into this Saturday’s game.
Auburn is predictable on Offense based on personel.— Jordan Rodgers (@JRodgers11) October 15, 2018
vs Tenn when a TE/FB (predominantly Chandler Cox) is on the field vs off the field:
On — 35/47 Rush or Screen: 74%
Off — 30/33 Pass: 91%
Teams play coverage vs 4 wide, load the box vs heavy sets. Can’t win like this.
The Tigers’ offensive play calling is more or less dictated by senior fullback Chandler Cox’s presence on the turf. Now that this has been revealed for all the world to see on Twitter, it remains to be seen if Lindsey and head coach Gus Malzahn will make an adjustment. Given how bad Ole Miss’ 112th-ranked defense has been, they may not have to.
When Chandler Cox is in, it’s a run.
As evidenced by Rodgers’ research, the Tigers run it or throw a screen 74 percent of the time when No. 27 is lined up on offense. Here we see Cox in the formation as an H-back on the left side.
Freshman Anthony Schwartz comes in motion to the near side and takes a jet sweep handoff for a nice gain. This play could be something used against the Rebels because the Ole Miss linebackers routinely get too aggressive and overrun plays, leading to cutback lanes big enough to drive a mobile home through.
The next play, Cox is motioned to the far side, causing the Volunteers to slide down and open a a cutback lane for JaTarvious Whitlow.
Even though the play was designed to go right (the left guard pulled across) the shifting of the Tennessee line opened things up backside. The left tackle was matched up one-on-one against a defensive back and Whitlow picks up an easy first down.
Now, at the goal line, we see Auburn in a jumbo set with multiple tight ends in the formation, including Cox. Pretty simple stuff here. Quick pitch to the boundary and everyone block their man.
Even when Auburn goes four-wide, Cox’s presence means a run.
Down 10 and facing a third-and-five, Auburn brought in four receivers. Sounds like a pass, right? No, because Cox is on the field. The Tigers run a quarterback draw that’s stuffed with just a four-man Tennessee rush.
When Cox isn’t on the field, the Tigers are throwing.
Earlier in Auburn’s opening drive, when Cox took a breather, the Tigers went four-wide, spreading out the Tennessee defense and forcing the safety to honor the deep ball.
A quick play-fake freezes the linebackers at the second level and opens a nice window to the right for a lazy slant route for an easy pitch-and-catch for 14 yards. Ole Miss will need to take some risks here, playing press coverage and challenging Stidham and the Auburn receivers to get free releases and make tough catches in traffic.
In this sequence, Auburn goes four-wide and the Vols only bring four.
The Vols were still able to flush Stidham and force an ill-advised throw that resulted in an interception. If the Rebels can get a pass rush and fluster him, he rarely makes accurate throws under pressure.
The Rebels defensive line has shown flashes getting a more consistent pass rush and the Auburn offensive line is nowhere near elite. The big fellas up front are going to be key in this game. If they can pressure Stidham, good things could happen.
Auburn did buck the trend late in the game.
Down 30-17 halfway through the fourth quarter, Cox is back on the field as an H-back. This time the Tigers throw it.
The slot receiver on the far side comes in motion for a play-fake and flares out in the flats as a safety valve. Cox and the running back stay in to mass protect and once Stidham decides against taking a shot downfield, he dumped it off to Schwartz for a nice gain.
This is where the Rebels could be in trouble. The defense has been notorious for losing folks in coverage and not tackling well in space. If the Rebel defense is going to force third-and-long situations and/or get off the field to give it back to the offense, they’ll need to stay disciplined in space and make the necessary play.
If Auburn sticks to its tendency and Wesley McGriff checks Twitter, staying disciplined should be a lot easier.