Jerry Hinnen, over at the War Eagle Reader, has, in his Georgia-Auburn recap, a detailed breakdown of Auburn’s longest gain of the game, a 34-yard pass to the tight end. It’s well done, with pictures and analysis. In Jerry’s mind, it’s evidence that even if “Malzahn’s offense isn’t as consistent yet as we’d like, there’s not much doubting his ingenuity.” To me, it’s just further evidence that Malzahn let himself get outcoached by Martinez – a pretty rare occurrence this season.
Why do I say that? Well, look at Jerry’s breakdown: five paragraphs worth, with accompanying pictures. There are players doing this, players doing that, Todd is pump faking, Fannin is directing traffic… you get the idea. It’s a very clever play call.
But if you’re a Georgia fan, it all comes down to two things, both of which Jerry happens to capture in still shots.
First, there’s no pass rush.
Second, it’s a throw to the tight end. Over the middle. You can see the coverage in your mind’s eye, can’t you?
Here’s Jerry’s conclusion from the play:
Malzahn is certainly too clever for his own good sometimes. But he’s also often too clever for his opponent’s good, too, and his shrewdness in establishing tendencies and then playing off of them–swing, swing, LOOK A SWING psych hahahahaha–are a big reason Auburn has gone from 105th in offensive yards-per-play to 21st in the space of a single offseason.
There’s no denying that the Tigers are much improved on the offensive side of the ball this year. But it’s the first line of that paragraph that described what happened last Saturday night.
Tight ends in much less complicated offenses than Malzahn’s have made careers off of Georgia’s pass defense this season. I’m not sure if Aaron Hernandez had a man within four yards of him after he left the line of scrimmage the entire day in Jacksonville. Hell, Vandy’s tight ends feasted on Georgia’s D.
So, sure, it was a clever call, in a miss-the-forest-for-the-trees kind of way. Because it was the only completion to the tight end the entire game. First rule for having a good game plan: take what the other guy gives you until he stops it. Malzahn never went there; instead, we got to see Lee Ziemba’s first catch of the year. That’s how you wind up with an offense that only scored three points after the first two drives. And how Willie gets credit for the win.