Auburn football: Jet sweep absent vs. Huskies, but expect it to return soon

Jarrett Stidham was credited with 11 rushing attempts vs. Washington. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Jarrett Stidham was credited with 11 rushing attempts vs. Washington. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

If you know the Auburn football team’s offense, you know that the Tigers didn’t run a part of it that’s been a big-play producer since Gus Malzahn arrived.

Offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey did not dial up the jet sweep Saturday against No. 6 Washington.

The assumption that Auburn didn’t run it because Eli Stove, the player who got the call most the time last season, is recovering from an ACL injury and not in uniform would be easy to make.

But that wasn’t the case, Lindsey said Sunday.

The Washington defense is one of the nation’s best and it covers extremely well from sideline to sideline. A lot of Auburn fans get frustrated with the 2- and 3-yard runs up the middle. Most the time there’s a reason for that. In this case, Auburn likely didn’t want to risk losing yards on a first or second down play and putting itself in a third-and-long situation.

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Or, if you’re like me, you thought Auburn was setting up the jet sweep by drawing the defense to the middle time and again. Yes, Lindsey teased with players in motion like a jet sweep, but the ball never went to the man in motion.

That happened on third-and-2 on Auburn’s game-ending possession. JaTarvious Whitlow took the snap and freshman receiver Anthony Schwartz game across and Whitlow faked the handoff to him and picked up the first down. There was no way Auburn was going to give the ball to Schwartz, who hadn’t touched the ball the entire game, on that play, but some of the Washington defenders still had to freeze for a split second on the play to make sure Whitlow didn’t hand it to him.

So Auburn made a strategic decision to not run the jet sweep against Washington. Look for that to change Saturday against Alabama State. It’s another piece to the offense that keeps defenses guessing and when it hits, it can hit big.

Will Auburn go with Schwartz, who has world-class speed? Will Shaun Shivers, who had a big 7-yard run on third-and-4 on a second quarter scoring drive for his first career touch, get into the mix on the jet sweep? And is Devan Barrett still an option? Or does Lindsey want to see how another player handles it?

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We expect to find out Saturday.