Tag Archives: Auburn Tigers

Week 1 Preview, 8-31-19: Auburn defense vs. Oregon offense

Oregon’s offense heads into the 2019 campaign with a huge contest looming versus an Auburn defense that ranked 30th in the nation in opponent third down conversions a season ago.  They are led by a defensive line that features three disruptive edge rushers in Marlon Davidson, Big Kat Bryant and Nick Coe.  Coe led the Tigers with seven quarterbacks sacks in 2018. 

Oregon QB Justin Herbert’s ability to throw under pressure will be key in the team’s Week 1 matchup versus Auburn.

Davidson has occasionally shown the ability to peel (come off of his pass rush to cover RBs) versus quick running back flares to the flats (see UGA ’18-third quarter).  As we spotlighted in the Tigers dominating 63-14 win in the 2018 Music City Bowl versus Purdue, even backup front seven personnel (i.e. Bryant) are capable of reacting to tipped passes.

Auburn OLB/DE Big Kat Bryant (No. 1 pictured) returned a tipped ball (by No. 94 Tyrone Truesdell, pictured) for a 20-yard TD interception return in the second quarter of the 2018 Music City Bowl.

It makes this a tough defensive line to puncture even if they aren’t recording sacks. The team’s front seven accounted for 15 of Auburn’s 54 pass break-ups (T-30th in the nation) in 2018.  Bryant, who stands 6-foot-5 and weighs 253 pounds, accounted for three of those pass break-ups despite starting just three games.

Derrick Brown vs. Oregon interior OL

Throckmorton, pictured, has started at four different positions on Oregon’s offensive line heading into 2019.

Auburn defensive lineman and 2020 NFL first-round draft prospect Derrick Brown can win on twists/stunts, displays range and is capable of using his vision versus double teams.  It will be important for 2018 second-team All-Pac-12 LG Shane Lemieux -a  38-game starter entering 2019- to win on his angle/cut-off blocks versus Brown’s quickness.  The Ducks have to take away snaps from the Tigers defensive front with some semblance of a running attack.  Brown  may match up slightly better with the Ducks’ most versatile lineman, right guard Calvin Throckmorton (has actually played more at the tackle spot).   In 2018, Oregon ran much more than they passed on first down.  Passing on that down early in this contest could halt Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele from hiding the defense’s intentions in obvious passing situations. 

Herbert vs. Auburn third down disguise

For Herbert to enjoy sustained success in this contest, he and his offensive line have to be cognizant of Auburn’s multiple disguises and line games on third downs.  Dating back to his freshman campaign, he has protected the football relatively well.  However, Auburn tied for 24th in the nation a season ago with 14 interceptions.  Eight of the players responsible for 11 of those picks return, led by senior cornerback Javaris Davis.  Davis -the team’s longtime nickel back- enters 2019 with six career interceptions and one touchdown, and his pre-snap identification on this all-important down could help Herbert decipher the team’s final coverage.

There are times when Steele will show a five or six-man pressure look in the pre-snap and then rush just four defenders with a two-or-three-deep zone behind it (see Purdue, Music City Bowl ’18, 3rd and 10, 2nd QTR/14:14).  In these instances, Herbert’s patience will be tested.

Oregon’s answer may be a dummy snap count that will attempt to force Auburn to show its hand.  Herbert often looks to the sideline for the pre-snap adjustment before running the play (3rd and 8, 1st QTR, SJSU ’18-defensive pass interference).   In Week 3 of the 2018 campaign, San Jose State DC Derrick Odum would sometimes keep his linebackers and defensive linemen in stationary positions prior to bringing six-man pressures (3rd and 15, 1st QTR, incomplete pass, QB hit).  In these instances, Herbert displayed pocket toughness to deliver the ball while getting hit by the unblocked blitz threat. 

On the next five Oregon third down attempts (San Jose State ’18), the Ducks posted a false start (3rd and 9, 2nd QTR), an incompletion to a tight end in the end zone while backed up (3rd and 13, 2nd QTR), a one-yard completion (3rd and 13, 2nd QTR), an 11-yard completion (3rd and 8, 2nd QTR) and an incompletion (3rd and 8, 2nd QTR).  Many of the coverage concepts included two-or-three-deep zones mixed with split safety looks.

So what was the common theme prior to these third downs?

San Jose State’s front seven (led by former NT Boogie Roberts) wreaked havoc on first and second down.  The team’s linebackers reacted to what they saw and forced the action.  An inability to create forward movement in the running game (2.7 yards per carry) caused Oregon to stay in third and long much of the afternoon.  For the game, the Ducks converted 39-percent (7-of-18) of its third down attempts.  To even reach that mark against the Tigers front seven, Oregon OC Marcus Arroyo has to create manageable third downs for Herbert and his offensive line. 

There will be many games for Auburn to study when attempting to corral one of the 2020 NFL Draft’s top quarterback prospects in Herbert.  One could argue that the Michigan State defensive performance in the 2018 Redbox Bowl ranks at or near the top of the list.  Surprisingly, however, the job done by San Jose State DC Derrick Odum in slowing down Oregon’s offense has some intriguing hints for Auburn DC Kevin Steele.

 

 

Center of attention

Former Mississippi State offensive lineman Elgton Jenkins stood out in college for his versatility. There are not many positions he didn’t have a hand in contributing at for the Bulldogs. As he moves on to the next level, we sat down to talk with him about his flexibility, technique and overall mindset heading into the 2019 NFL Draft.

Q&A with Mississippi State OL Elgton Jenkins

DN: With all of the different positions (LG, LT, RT, OC) you’ve played in school, which one would you say is your favorite? Did you have one that you feel like you’re best at?

Jenkins: I think I’m better at center than all of them. I’ve been playing it for two years and in those two years I’ve been playing it I’ve been more wise to the game… having more knowledge. But I think with any position I play at this point right here, with the knowledge I have for the game, I can dominate and play at a high level.

DN: And speaking of playing at a high level, it seemed like one of the things that you do a really good job of is re-anchoring. Even if somebody may get you for a second, you do a good job of hopping back to sink back in the chair. Do you think your tackle experience helps dealing with guys inside trying to use leverage?

During the 2019 Reese’s Senior Bowl practices Rankin (No. 74 pictured with player grabbing his jersey) demonstrated very good balance and core strength.

Jenkins: I really think it is a mix of athleticism, being strong and being able to bend. That’s what I think it is.

DN: Some of the guys you’ve played with and have moved on, what type of advice have they given to you? Can you draw experience from your teammate being in this same situation, Rankin (Martinas, 3rd Round, 80th overall, 2018 NFL Draft, Houston Texans)? What has Martinas kind of talked to you about?

Jenkins: Man, he just says come to work every day with a business-mind approach. Treat this as your job and things like that. So every day come to work and every year somebody else is trying to come and take your job. You’ve got to be a man, step up and keep your job.

DN: In terms of learning a new offense this year under Joe Moorhead (Mississippi State head coach), what was one of the big things you had to pick up in terms of making a quick transition? Certainly a different style than the previous scheme.

Jenkins: Just the scheme and the offense and things like that. I think I pick up offenses really fast man. It is really just the same thing, you’ve just go to be able to use the verbiage from each offense and you’ll pick it up fast.

DN: Do you feel like it was one game that you would want someone to take a look at, what game would that be?

Jenkins: I feel like you can look at the majority of my games, but a game I’d say probably was Auburn. They’ve got one of the bigger D-tackles and he probably had one tackle that game. Not only me, but my offensive line back at Mississippi State. They had a big part in that. We play as five and then we play as one. Us as a whole O-line had a big part in my success.

DN: Is there one guy at the next level you pattern your game after? Or a guy you’ve looked up to?

Jenkins: When I was playing tackle, I always looked at tackles. Me playing center right now, it’ll probably be somebody like Maurkice (Pouncey, Pittsburgh Steelers) or someone like that.

DN: That’s a pretty good one. Thanks a lot for your time man. Good luck in the draft.

Jenkins: Appreciate it.

2018 Preview: Alabama Crimson Tide

Season outlook

Alabama is once again the favorite to win the National Championship, but they will have to adjust to new offensive and defensive coordinators in Nick Saban’s 12th season as head coach. Offensive coordinator Mike Locksley will have to choose between junior quarterback Jalen Hurts (6’2, 218) and sophomore signal-caller Tua Tagovailoa (6’1, 218).

Aside from posting a 26-2 career record as a two-year starter, QB Jalen Hurts (No.2 pictured) has thrown for 4,861 yards (61.9%), 40 TDs and 10 INTs. He has also rushed for 1,809 yards (5.4 YPC) and 21 TDs.

Both quarterbacks showed an ability to take care of the football in 2017.  Hurts threw just one interception in 254 passing attempts and Tagovailoa had only two in 77 passes.  The duo combined for 28 passing touchdowns.  No matter who lines up under center, look for Alabama to feature senior running back Damien Harris (5’11, 216).  Harris is as consistent as they come, posting  back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons. Defensively, the front seven is led by junior defensive tackle Raekwon Davis (6’7, 306) and linebacker Anfernee Jennings (6’3, 267, Jr.).  A position group to keep an eye on this season is the secondary.  The Crimson Tide lost four contributors from last season’s team and will have several new faces on the back end.   Few teams are better prepared for attrition, but it will have to introduce newcomers on defense and in the coaches’ rooms.

Troy’s player to watch

99 Raekwon Davis 6’7 315 DT-Junior
Alabama routinely wins in the trenches with players like Davis.  He  has a good combination of strength and athleticism for an interior lineman.  For his size, he also plays with good leverage and is adept at bending and twisting to get around interior offensive linemen. The junior defensive tackle is also a technician with his hands, which allows him to blow by slower guards. Last year, he finished with 8.5 sacks and 10 tackles for loss.

Game of the season 

November 24th against Auburn
The Iron Bowl will once again feature the two favorites in the SEC West.  Auburn returns 13 starters from last season’s team, which beat Alabama 26-14 at home.   Head coach Gus Malzahn is 2-3 all- time against Alabama and will look to even the score versus its in-state rival.  Expect a closely-contested game in Tuscaloosa.

DraftNasty’s Prospect Watch:

73 Jonah Williams 6’5 301 LT-Junior

Williams (No. 73 pictured) has started 29 games at both tackle spots in his first two seasons on campus.

There aren’t many true juniors with the starting experience of Williams.  In just two seasons on campus, he’s already earned 29 career starts.  By the conclusion of his junior year, he may very well have over 40 starts.  His mobility is evident when asked to reach defensive tackles or scoop block versus linebackers.  There have been instances where he’s been beaten over the top with outside club moves in pass protection.   If the ‘Tide opens up its offense in 2018, Williams may get an opportunity to show off an increased skill-set in pass protection.

Prediction: 12-0

As always, games against LSU and Auburn can be tricky for the Crimson Tide to navigate, but DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson is predicting an undefeated regular season for Alabama.  The Crimson Tide play Louisville, Citadel and Arkansas State in the non- conference portion of their schedule and won’t have to play Florida or Georgia until a potential match-up in the SEC Championship.