Chalk Talk: Auburn vs San Jose State Upon Further Review

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Sep 6, 2014; Auburn, AL, USA; Auburn Tigers defensive lineman Elijah Daniel (97) defends San Jose State Spartans quarterback Blake Jurich (14) during the second quarter at Jordan Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

2nd Quarter
Auburn was called for a delay of game on the first play of the second quarter. I don’t have proof, but I’d bet you can count on one hand the number of delay of game penalties a Gus Malzahn offense has had. Ever.

After missing two 3rd-and-1 opportunities against Arkansas, Auburn had no trouble on early 3rd-and-1 and 4th-and-1 plays in the second quarter.

On the second touchdown drive of the game, Marshall missed D’haquille Williams on a slant route because he threw the ball too high. On the broadcast, Tom Luginbill (the sideline reporter on the broadcast) said that Gus Malzahn was “angry” that Marshall missed the throw because of Williams’ size and that he was “wide open.”

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According to Lugs, Malzahn “screamed ‘run it again and complete it this time!’”

He did, and he did, and Cameron Artis-Payne took the following 4th down play in for a touchdown.

There was a lot of talk on the broadcast about moving Cassanova McKinzy to defensive end because of his size (nearly 250 pounds) and Auburn’s need for an explosive pass rusher off the edge. It’s a nice idea, but McKinzy has been a solid middle linebacker that can be used in that role on obvious passing downs – something defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson has already done.

On the play in which he sacked the quarterback, Montravius Adams got a HUGE jump on the snap of the football, which gave him instant penetration. He utilized a nice rip move on the guard (Adams was playing the 3-technique), and showed tremendous quickness getting to the QB.

On the next play, Quan Bray returned a punt 55 yards for a touchdown. The biggest thing that stuck out to me was the SJSU gunner ran well past Bray and took himself out of the play.

Later in the quarter, Auburn ran a quick hitch pass to Williams in which the Tigers pulled both guards away from the play side. The Spartans’ linebackers were reading the guards and followed them into the boundary and away from the pass. It is possible that this was a “quadruple option” play that was a run/pass option for Marshall.

Defensive tackle Angelo Blackson continually beat his man in the first half and was constantly in the backfield. He also played with tremendous effort after the ball handed off or the pass was completed, and often re-appeared in the screen many yards downfield. Great hustle.

In fact, the defensive line as a unit was very explosive off the ball. Late in the second quarter, Adams and defensive end Elijah Daniel forced a false start penalty because of their speed on the snap. The lineman jumped early in anticipation of getting beat.

Jonathon Mincy has gotten better this year, and he is one of the best corners in the SEC in terms of playing close to the line of scrimmage.

Jonathan Wallace is on the kick return team. He came into the picture when San Jose State used a sky kickoff technique late in the second quarter.
With the kickoff, SJSU was trying to accomplish one of two things.

First, they targeted linebacker Anthony Swain, who is not used to fielding kicks. If Swain tried to catch and run with the football, there was a good chance the Spartans could force a turnover if he muffed it or fumbled the ball trying to run with it.

Second, they may have wanted to “show” the sky kick on film to their future Mountain West opponents. Now, other teams will have to rep sky kicks in practice, and may need to change their personnel on kickoff returns to put a player with better ball skills in that position. Plus, that player might be a weaker blocker. Seriously, coaches think about these things.

Sep 6, 2014; Auburn, AL, USA; Auburn Tigers defensive back Johnathan Ford (23) celebrates his fumble recovery with defensive back Joshua Holsey (15) during the second quarter against the San Jose State Spartans at Jordan Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

Holsey made a very nice play on a screen pass late in the half. He split two offensive linemen that were down field and barreling towards him, and then recovered to make a tackle at the line of scrimmage. Impressive.

Random thought: Do the Tigers have the most athletic defensive tackles in the SEC? Wright and Adams are certainly in the discussion when they play interior line positions, but Blackson should be too.

The interception by Rudy Ford late in the second quarter was a poorly thrown ball from Jurich. Coming out of his hand, it was very wobbly and the wide receiver could not handle it. Ford reacted quickly to the deflection to secure the pick and give Auburn one last chance at points.

On the final drive of the half, the Tigers used 10 personnel during their “2 minute” offense. Marshall was not very smooth overall on the drive, but he did hit Williams with a fastball for a first down that might have been the best pass of the day (and at least Marshall’s best mechanics).

There are a lot of fans that think that Wallace should be the holder for extra points and field goals because he is the third-string quarterback and would give the Tigers some options for fake field goals (and because he’s such a nice guy and should get some playing time). However, many people don’t realize how specialists practice.

Roughly 95% of the time, kickers and punters practice away from their teammates. Wallace gets reps at quarterback and calling in the plays from the sidelines at practice, so the kickers and punters hold for one another and build a comfort level with one another.

Kickers are historically creatures of habit, and therefore prefer to have the same person hold for them in games that does so the rest of the week. That is likely why we see Tyler Stovall holding on the field goal prior to halftime to give Auburn a 38-10 lead heading into the locker room.