Chalk Talk: Auburn vs San Jose State Upon Further Review

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Sep 6, 2014; Auburn, AL, USA; San Jose State Spartans quarterback Blake Jurich (14) is brought by Auburn Tigers defensive back Jonathon Mincy (6) during the second half at Jordan Hare Stadium. The Tigers defeated the Spartans 59-13. Mandatory Credit: Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

3rd Quarter

In the third quarter, Alex Kviklys took over the kicking duties from Carlson. The move was a good one to limit the stress on Carlson’s leg (because he also punts and is the FG/PAT kicker) and also get a young kicker some reps in live game situations.

In the middle of the third quarter San Jose State gets good yardage with a screen pass to the running back. The play call is a smart one because of all the penetration the Auburn defensive line has gotten in this game so far. Should the Tigers continue to get a great push up front, expect other teams to call similar screens often to slow them down.

Kris Frost appeared to be much more comfortable Saturday than he did the previous game against Arkansas. Frost recorded his final tackle of the game in the third quarter, but was very aggressive in the first half, which was a welcome change from the timidity he showed against the Razorbacks.

San Jose State gets a big play on a quarterback draw in a “trick” formation. The tackles both split out wide like wide receivers, leaving only two guards, a center and a running back near the quarterback. This formation has many names including “popcorn” and “monster.”

With the tackles and two wide receivers on each side placed near the sideline, it takes several defenders away from the middle of the field. Once Jurich passes the defensive linemen that have rushed up field, there is a lot of green grass in front of him and he takes it to the red zone.

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Another new formation on the drive featured “quads,” or four wide receivers to one side, with a tight end on the backside.

The Spartans run a zone read and the QB keeps the ball and runs away from the quads. The philosophy behind the call is that the SJSU coaches believe Auburn will overload the quads’ side and leave a lot of room open on the other side. However, Rudy Ford, who utilizes great speed to bring Jurich down before he can pick up big yardage, stops the play for a short gain.

SJSU is trying to give Auburn a taste of their own medicine by “formationing” them to death. It works – to a point – as the Spartans get into the red zone.

Towards the end of the drive, on a 3rd-and-6 play, the Spartans make a conservative call and run a zone play. Auburn stops it before the running back can pick up the first down and SJSU decides to kick a field goal. The decision to kick is a bit strange since it will keep the score a four-possession game (25 points), but a touchdown would reduce it to a three-possession game (21 points).

At 2:52 in the third quarter, the ESPN Film Room Live debuted, and Tigers fans on Twitter were not happy about it. As an old coach, I really like the idea, but there are some problems with it. More on this later.

The Spartans again go with a sky kick, and it is nearly successful despite the fact that Auburn moved Ricardo Louis up to field the short kick. Louis couldn’t handle the ball and he nearly allowed San Jose State to recover deep in Tigers’ territory.

On the ensuing drive, Marshall completes a pass to Corey Grant on a check down. The announcers discuss that the play is indicative of Marshall’s progression as a quarterback and they speculate that he would have taken off and run on the same play last season once his primary target was covered.

On a personal note, I would really like to see Grant used more often in the passing game. His speed is such a weapon and he could be a matchup nightmare.

It is somewhat odd that Tom Luginbill is a sideline reporter for ESPN and not a color commentator. He is better at articulating X’s and O’s than many announcers in the booth for ESPN. Brian Griese (the color commentator on this broadcast) is actually pretty good, but Lugs is slightly better.

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  • Marshall scores on a QB draw from the 27-yard line. As we mentioned earlier, Marshall had 102 rushing yards, and 49 came on the draw. Well, make it 76 yards on the draw.

    SJSU really did a great job containing Marshall on the outside (he averaged three yards per rush on nine carries), but he gashed them up the middle (38 yards per carry).

    Also, on the play, the Tigers had 10 personnel on the field, which had been a heavy pass tendency for them in this game. That likely factored into the big yardage on the draw play for Marshall.

    It is tough to do a Film Room “Live” because the announcers will say, “watch for this,” and then the team does something different. If the goal is to educate the common fan on X’s and O’s, this strategy will only confuse them. It is one reason that the studio show is better, because the network and commentators can pick and choose which plays to show and discuss.

    SJSU tries a double pass, but Mincy makes a great play and records a sack. There was also great coverage on the back end that helped. Auburn has been very good under Malzahn the last season-plus in defending trick plays.