Auburn football: Comparing the Tigers' first and second halves of the season

Breaking down Auburn's progression this season

12/4/13 in NCAAF   |   Tyler_Waddell   |   426 respect

There’s no better example of a team getting better as the season goes on than Auburn. It’s a tale of two halves, really—one looking like a middle-of-the-pack SEC squad and the next being a championship caliber. Blog Photo - Auburn football: Comparing the Tigers' first and second halves of the season

The progression of quarterback Nick Marshall in Gus Malzahn’s system is incredible, along with the Tigers’ overall offensive production. When it finally clicked for him at the mid-way point, the entire team became one synchronized unit.

Here is a graphic on Auburn’s first five games of the season against opponents with a combined 35-25 record, adding Marshall's individual statistics:

Opponent Opp. record Pass yds/TDs/INTs Carries/yds/TDs Result
Washington State       6-6          99/0/0        9/27/0 W 31-24
Arkansas State       7-5          147/2/0        8/53/0 W 38-9
Mississippi State       6-6          339/2/2        10/22/0 W 24-20
LSU       9-3          224/0/2        14/46/0 L 21-35
Ole Miss       7-5          93/0/0        14/140/2 W 30-22

Marshall averaged 180.4 passing yards per game, throwing four touchdowns to four interceptions, and added 5.2 yards per carry with the option-attack. Auburn scored an average of 28.8 points, gained 242.2 total rushing yards and turned the ball over 10 times.

Now here’s a graphic for the final even, excluding Western Carolina and Florida Atlantic when Marshall was out with injury. Auburn turns the corner during the clash with Texas A&M:

Opponent Opp. record Pass yds/TDs/INTs Carries/yds/TDs Result
Texas A&M        8-4          236/2/0        20/100/2 W 45-41
Arkansas        3-9          118/1/0        9/59/0 W 35-17
Tennessee        5-7          35/1/1        14/214/2 W 55-23
Georgia        8-4          229/1/0        18/89/2 W 43-38
Alabama        11-1          97/2/0        17/99/1 W 34-28

Marshall's passing numbers dropped significantly, but his passer efficiency skyrocketed (7-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio). He's also been utilized in the running game a lot more, averaging 7.2 yards per carry during this time for seven scores while nearly doubling his yardage production, which has affected things dramatically.

Auburn has averaged 42.4 points during the latter half of the season with Marshall under center, dialing 335.0 rushing yards—a 27.7 percent increase—and has turned the ball over just four times in five games.

And just in case you forgot, Auburn finished 3-9 (0-8 SEC) in 2012. In his first year, Malzahn has beaten four ranked opponents—including the No. 1 team in the nation—and has the Tigers playing for the conference championship.

Not bad.

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12/5/13   |   MortonsLaw   |   156 respect

And with that said, Auburn had a miracle to beat Georgia and a gift to beat Alabama. This team is very similar to the one led by Cam Newton. Newton pulled a rabbit out of his hat to survive a handful of games that year. The Auburn defense was mediocre at best just like this one. The only difference this year being they already lost. 

As I said in another thread, I hope the upsets happen, so we can all watch what Bama does to Auburn in a rematch for the National Title. Go see the Alabama/LSU rematch.