Auburn Offensive Outlook
|Wednesday, August 29, 2012, 11:09 AM- -|
Auburn's Offensive Outlook
The last two times Clemson has played Auburn it was against Gus Malzahn and his high powered offense led by stars like Cam Newton and Michael Dyer. This year the Auburn offense features a new offensive coordinator, a new scheme and new personnel in many places.
Two years ago Auburn's Cam Newton had one of the finest seasons in college football history. Last year Barrett Trotter took over and performed about as well as could be expected. This year Clint Moseley and Kiehl Frazier battled for the starting position and Frazier eventually won out.
Last year Frazier was used mostly in the Wildcat package. He had 76 carries for 327 yards and three touchdowns but only attempted 12 passes and completed five for 34 yards. He did not have a touchdown pass but did throw two interceptions. Frazier is listed at 6-2 and 226 pounds and is expected to be more of a running threat Saturday night.
Moseley had a shoulder issue in fall camp but he is considered more of a passer after last season where he went 66 of 108 for 800 yards with five touchdowns and three picks.
Auburn lost Michael Dyer who torched Clemson for 151 yards and two touchdowns a season ago. Onterrio McCalebb takes over as the feature back. Against Clemson last year he had 10 carries for 34 yards and caught one pass for 17 yards. For the season McCalebb had 112 carries for 641 yards and five scores.
I expect Auburn to throw to the backs often Saturday night. McCalebb caught 32 passes last season for 348 yards and two touchdowns.
Tre Mason is back after a good freshman season. The 198-pounder had 28 carries for 168 yards and a score. Mike Blakely is highly regarded prospect that signed with Florida out of high school but transferred to Auburn last year.
A key to Auburn's new offense will be fullback Jay Porsch. The Tigers have switched to a power running game and reports out of Auburn claim Porsch has been lighting defenders up. I expect Auburn to run behind Porsch often Saturday night.
Auburn has its top four targets back from last season including Emory Blake a senior who caught 36 passes for 613 yards and five touchdowns last season. Trovon Reed caught 21 passes for 164 yards in his freshman season. Travante Stallworth had 13 receptions for 214 yards and a touchdown last year. Quan Bray is a highly recruited athlete that had 17 catches for 93 yards as a true freshman.
Phillip Lutzenkiirchen is one of the nation's top tight ends. The 6-5, 255-pound senior caught 24 passes a season ago for 248 yards but seven were for touchdowns. He is considered the best tight end prospect in the SEC this season.
A lot has been made of Clemson's youth and inexperience on the offensive line but Auburn may be younger and more inexperienced on its offensive line. Auburn will start a red-shirt freshman in Greg Robinson at left tackle and a true freshman Avery Young at right tackle. Their starting center who was a freshman All-American last season is suspended, so Tunde Fariyike will get his first career start. The guards, senior John Sullen and sophomore Chad Slade, combined to start 21 games last season but the other three starters on the offensive line will be making their first start.
Auburn hired Scott Loeffler as its new offensive coordinator when Gus Malzahn left for Arkansas State. Loeffler has spent time at Temple and Florida. He is expected to leave the Malzahn scheme and focus more on a power running attack and a play action game off of the run. Opening games feature some surprises in terms of personnel and scheme but that may be more of the case here because this is Loeffler's first game at Auburn.
Frazier is not a very experienced passer and Auburn would like to be able to ease him into the game by throwing when they want to instead of when they have to. I also expect Auburn to try to control the ball and keep Clemson's explosive offense off of the field much like Georgia Tech and South Carolina did last season.
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