Aubserver Mailbag 79: Should Auburn try to become a new Tight End U?
This week: Drop rates, looking back at the Iron Bowl, Bo Nix, permanent rivals, Las Vegas, water balloon fights, anarchy, Star Wars, donuts and the May Employee of the Month
TE John Samuel Shenker (Todd Van Emst/Auburn Athletics)
Hello, friends. I’m back in my usual mailbag slot after a much-needed vacation to the desert. Thanks to everyone who read and listened when Painter ran the ship — we even gained some new subscribers during what is usually a dead time of year! (That probably says more about me than anything else.)
There’s a lot to get to this week, starting with a massive and awesome question from a subscriber and continuing on to some big-picture football topics and a lightning round of fun toward the end.
AO sub here, just was wondering if you were aware of a database/website that keeps track of offensive plays by personnel alignment. I'm trying to find a way to sort teams by their frequency of running multi-TE sets.
For the long story version, maybe here's a writing prompt for you.
When the Auburn OC came open after Bobo, I was banging the desk to hire Andy Ludwig from Utah. Utah, while not being the most talented team around, knocked around the PAC-12 last year after a rough start and kicked Oregon's teeth in twice behind a physical offense that ran the most 13 personnel in the country. With Auburn's TE room and lack of proven WR production, it was my opinion that following this blueprint could be a good approach in a mostly spread world these days with fast, undersized DBs and everyone running base nickel. Of course, OL play could hold this back.
I had a theory that each P5 conference probably has one and only one team currently doing this. It's metagame theory, where you lean into something that no one else is doing to take advantage of matchups (both schematically and possibly in recruiting and roster building). Utah is the PAC-12 "Tight End" team, obviously, and I'm guessing Iowa and Iowa State are probably the Big 10 and Big XII counterparts. However, I don't think anyone in the SEC is currently building their offense like this. My original search for the aforementioned database was because I was trying to think of the ACC equivalent, but I'm not familiar enough with the ACC to guess with any confidence. Maybe Boston College?
So, I'm trying to see which teams in the P5 ran the most 12 and 13 personnel in 2021 and how they fared offensively, and wondering if there's any merit for Auburn to follow the Utah blueprint and for Harsin to imitate one of his former mentors.
Before I get to my (lengthy) answer, let me just say that I love it when Inner Circle members send me these massive mailbag questions. It will never stop being awesome. Keep them coming, especially during the offseason.