Danielson on Auburn

I think Gary Danielson is a better in-game analyst than he is someone who dissects trends, but, damned if I don’t share his feeling about Auburn this season.

“Gus’ offense is unique in what it does,” he explained. “And what it does well is blend with a running quarterback. That’s when they run the ball the best, when they have the threat of a running quarterback.

“Jarrett Stidham and Sean White might be the best quarterback combo in the league. It is a great 1-2 punch, but neither of them fit Gus’ track record of what makes this offense go. The proving point for me is can they run the ball effectively without a threat of a running quarterback.”

Stidham’s reputation is largely built on a three-game run he had while at Baylor.  Although impressive, it was in a very different offensive scheme than he finds himself in now, and it was against three sub-par defenses.  While he certainly appears to be talented, his physical skills run in a much different direction than did Cam’s or Marshall’s.  Count me in the group that doesn’t see him as a slam dunk.

I’m reminded by that of one other thing to keep in mind.  Stidham’s run was cut short by injury.  White was hurt last season.  So was Pettway, Auburn’s best back.  Injury-prone backfields and Malzahn’s offense aren’t happy combinations.

I admit that Auburn shows up well in advanced stats.  But the schedule, with Clemson and LSU on the road and Alabama… well, Alabama anywhere, is tough (and, historically speaking, I think Bill giving Auburn a 70% chance of beating Georgia is optimistic).  I’m just not sold on the Tigers the way a lot of folks are.



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27 responses to “Danielson on Auburn

  1. Argondawg

    So with Stidham they get a first down in the second half against us?


  2. paul

    Auburn’s primary talent lies in fielding the Bo Jackson’s and Cam Newton’s of the world without finding themselves in an Ole Miss dilemma. In other words, they cheat good.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree. Don’t understand the Auburn love at this point.


  4. mdcgtp

    Other than the obvious fact that Big 12 defenses are not as tough as what he will face in the SEC, I wouldn’t say they were three “sub-par” defenses.
    Stidham’s three games were against OU, OSU, and K-State who ranked 1,6, 9 among the 10 teams in the Big 12 on a ypp basis.

    re:advanced stats. Auburn is not quite as impressive on a ypp basis relative to Connelly’s S&P, which I think is terribly flawed. The real value of his work are all the sub-measures that help paint a picture of how and why teams are the way the way they are.

    As for the larger point, its really hard to project Auburn outside of knowing what Stidham gives them. Auburn lit up a bunch of bad defenses for about 6 weeks last year, but White is neither a great passer or runner. Pettway seems like a back that good defenses and a decent front 7 should be able to stop easily. Further, Davidson and Derek Brown may turn out to be good players, but they probably won’t be as productive as Adams and Lawson. Thrown in the fact that Steele is not a particularly coordinator, and I could easily craft a scenario where Auburn underachieves, but then again, they are Malzahn’s Auburn and the volatility factor is high.


    • As Bill noted, Steele proved a lot of people wrong last year. I thought he did an excellent job coaching the Auburn D.


      • mdcgtp

        did he really prove a lot of guys wrong? did he “kill” it in Bill’s parlance?
        OR did he simply do a decent job?

        they went from allowing 5.37 ypp to 5.07 ypp because they brought back a more healthy Lawson and motivated Adams.

        On a ypp basis, they went from 47 to 27. In Bill’s world, they were 9th in S&P. I don’t have the time to chart how much of that was related to competition, but they were not particularly impressive against good teams other than Clemson in week 1, which looks impressive on paper until one digs deeper. Clemson was not particularly good offensively last September.

        In fact, Clemson gained less ypp against Troy the week after playing Aubur and about the same against Tech 3 weeks later.


        • Will (the other one)

          Similarly I think some of their S&P numbers are skewed a bit by a really great (and not replicated before or since) performance vs a solid Arkansas team (much like the Nicholls game was a particular black hole for UGA’s stats.)
          But, let’s admit another reason we as UGA fans are doubting Auburn — 8-2 in the past 10 needing a national title-winner with a Heisman trophy QB, or a fluke tip pass from a national title-playing team is what it takes for Auburn to beat us.

          Liked by 1 person

    • peacedogattack


      “Stidham’s three games were against OU, OSU, and K-State who ranked 1,6, 9 among the 10 teams in the Big 12 on a ypp basis.”

      What would you call OSU and K-State besides “sub par”? I would except “god awful”; the conference ranking doesn’t tell the whole story. Oaklahoma was 33rd nationally in passing defense, but a more impressive 12th in Y/A. Teams had to throw on them, a lot, and did it to middling effectiveness. OSU, OTOH, was 95h in passing defense that their 7.6 Y/A conceded was 90th. K-State? 121/108 or something to that effect.

      This isn’t to say Stidham will or won’t do well. But I think that it’s a harder situation to read than has been previously described (and the ESPN article that ranked Stidham so high on the “best players” list was extra laughable).


      • mdcgtp

        “This isn’t to say Stidham will or won’t do well. But I think that it’s a harder situation to read than has been previously described (and the ESPN article that ranked Stidham so high on the “best players” list was extra laughable).”

        I agree with that…in commenting on sub par, I was contextualizing the point that Stidham faced relatively average defenses compared to what Baylor had faced all year. Put differently, its not like he faced 3 directional schools or Kansas, Iowa St., and Texas Tech. Obviously, Big 12 defenses are on the whole not very good, which I thought I acknowledged up front.

        Perhaps I tried slicing the semantical salami a bit thin. The one thing that caught my attention is that his 3 game sample was better than Brice Petty’s full season in 2014 and the other starter in 2015. Again, I agree with the larger point that many in the media have expectations for him that seem overly optimistic.


  5. Mark

    I think UGA is in Auburn’s head the same way Florida has been in our head for 25 years. So, at anything like an even battle, I like our chances. And if it’s uneven, I still feel pretty good.


  6. Rebar

    Do not understand the love for Auburn; replacing parts of the interior defensive line is going to hurt them. I’ll be interested to see how they start the season with Georgia Southern and how they handle the option.


  7. Got Cowdog

    Cam Newton at 6’6″ and 250, was a man among boys in the SEC at QB. He was a rare physical talent. That being said, I can’t think of a player I loathe more than he. IMO Newton is a douchebag of the highest order as someone gifted, GIFTED, with that much talent to be so arrogant and self serving. The quintessential dickhead he is, and I enjoyed watching Von Miller kick his ass all over the field so much I may go Google and Giggle it right now.


  8. D.N. Nation

    “Injury-prone backfields and Malzahn’s offense aren’t happy combinations”

    Auburn’s second half in Athens last season might’ve been the worst offensive performance I’ve ever seen out of a major program. Pure porn for Schottenheimer, I’m sure.


  9. I didn’t get the Auburn love the last couple of years, and I don’t see much that has changed other than having a Big XII system QB who hasn’t played much eligible. Their receivers have never scared me other than when our knuckleheads tipped it right to them. Pettway seems to be a good back but would you trade either Nick or Sony for him? Not me.

    Auburn alums I know are getting very impatient with the Gus Bus.


  10. ASEF

    Cam Newton could play linebacker in the NFL. Marshall was playing DB in the NFL. The obvious inference is that Gus needs an athlete with the size and speed necessary to make an NFL squad on defense to make things really click. Jeremy Johnson had the size but not the speed. Franklin had the speed but not the size. Stidham has the size but not the speed. And White lacks both.

    As for Stidham’s success, it came in a league where the talent at WR and OL typically exceeds the talent at DB or DL (just check the draft boards the last few years). And it came in a league where the officials tend to give the offensive players more latitude than the defensive players. That doesn’t mean Stidham won’t translate, but it does mean he will have marginally less time to throw and marginally less separation for his targets.

    But the SEC West is going to be putrid this year. Auburn’s going to end up 3rd in that division almost by default.


  11. Derek

    No doubt. If stidham can’t run, it won’t go. Running the ball in the sec is not easy either. It takes some big stones and durability.

    If he can run effectively and stay healthy, watch out. He may be cut out for it or he may be another Jeremy Johnson whose reviews, prior to being in the line of fire, were through the roof.

    Neither of the qbs who took auburn to the title game were great passers. They were far better runners. You have to have a qb who passes well and runs great for that thing to go like it’s supposed to.


    • They’re not running Gus’s offense, though. Or at least that’s the word. This is going to be the OCs offense, which is more apt to throw it around that run it like Gus would typically want.


      • Derek

        Good luck with that in the sec. Nobody has been able to do anything in this league without being able to RTDB. I hope they fall flat on their face.


        • The offense isn’t going to be the air raid, but it will be much more balanced than previous Malzahn outfits (if Gus does indeed let the OC run the show). I expect AUB to have the best offense in the conference this year. I just hope the DEF slides back a bit, but when you look at the DL Auburn will have it’s sort of scary.


      • Russ

        I expect that to last about a half of the first game. Gus is too impressed with his own credentials to really give up overall control of the offense.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Stidham’s three games were really one great one and two okay efforts. His three starts were against Kansas St, OKST, and OU. He threw for 934 yards in those three games, with 419 coming against KST (which was outside of the top 110 in defense).

    Against OKST and OU he was a 58% passer (28/48) with 515 yards and 3 TDs and 2 INTs. Now, for a true freshman those numbers are still pretty damn good. But he lit the world on fire with perhaps the best offensive system in the game against a very bad defense and then mellowed out a bit.

    So while I do think AUB is good this year, I’m not worried about their offense setting records. I think they’re fairly balanced, though.


  13. Otis Day

    Yeah think that have mostly ditched Gus’s high school offense and actually think the might be pretty good this year. I say they beat Clemson and LSU and maybe surprisingly easy….


    • Biggus Rickus

      His high school offense hasn’t generally been their problem. Though it is understandable for a Georgia fan to think it’s been, as they’ve oddly put up their worst YPP average against Georgia the last three years, and aside from 2010 and 2013, Georgia has above average success against Gus’s offenses.


  14. Bigshot

    I like it when AU is picked high, they never live up to expectations. I hope they lose every game they play.


  15. PTC DAWG

    F the barn.