When Will Auburn Run, And When Will Auburn Pass?

Jarrett Stidham Auburn Offense

I’ve been meaning to read Pat Kirwan’s Take You Eye Off the Ball for a while now. I finally got a copy of the updated edition, and the first thing he tells you is how to chart runs and passes by personnel so that you can see the play-calling tendencies.

In other words, if you look at the different combinations of running backs and tight ends used for each play, and note how many times a team runs, and how many times they pass from each combination, you can then predict whether they’ll run or pass when you see how they line up.

So let’s chart the plays from the first half of Auburn’s 2017 A-Day game. Why? Well, you know—why climb Mt. Everest. But also, we can check the plays after we play Clemson, and see whether A-Day told us much about Chip Lindsey’s play calling.

Firstly, here’s the video I used to chart the plays, provided by the always fearless and true WarRoomEagle.

And here’s what I found.

You can see that the first half was pass heavy for the Blue team (with Jarrett Stidham), and more balanced for the White.

So we line up with one running back and no tight ends (and four receivers), we’re likely going to pass. One running back and one tight end usually means we’re running. No surprises there.

Perhaps less expected is how the Blue team was pretty balanced when using two running backs and no tight ends. This combination was the White team’s base run formation, but they also threw from it four times.

Here’s a second level of analysis. If A-Day is any indication, we’re going to run a ton of plays with four receivers on the field; likely with more run-pass diversity. So execution by all our receivers will be critical to success. That means Kodi Burns has a very important job.

I’m gonna end this exercise with a prediction. I think the first-half play chart against Clemson is going to look remarkably similar to the chart from A-Day. I think there’s some what-you-see-is-what-you-get going on here, and the keys to success will be:

  1. Execution on all these four-receiver plays when they know we’re throwing
  2. How clever Lindsey will be in choosing when to deviate from the tendencies.

What say you?

Josh Dowdy

Josh Dowdy

Josh Dowdy is the editor for Heart of Auburn. He has also contributed to Bleacher Report and College & Magnolia. Dowdy is the author of Orange is Our Color: The Tuberville Years through Navy-tinted Glasses.
Josh Dowdy

One thought on “When Will Auburn Run, And When Will Auburn Pass?

  1. It sounds like we are going to be less predictable and bring tight ends into play a lot more for surprise quick releases when it looks like a run. Malzahn will still insist that the running game is firmly established, but that may be once the passing game is established. Did we see much in the way of play option from Stidham?

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