BATMAN (2013, dir. Gus Malzahn)
Gus Malzahn had a unique PAT formation. While it only resulted in a few extra points in the SEC title run, "Batman" was pure 2013 Auburn.
In Week 7 of the 2013 season, Auburn hosted Western Carolina for its annual homecoming game. The Tigers were fresh off of a win over Ole Miss and were gearing up to face Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M in College Station a week later.
The game itself is a throwback to what is now a bygone era of college football broadcasting. Remember how the Week 2 win over Arkansas State was on Fox Sports’ regional networks, because the SEC Network wasn’t a thing yet?
Week 7 was only available on pay-per-view. Andy Burcham called it with former Auburn quarterback and baseball star Gabe Gross. The full version of the game on YouTube is in sparkling 144p resolution. It’s like watching football on a fax machine.
The two most notable things to come out of Auburn’s 62-3 beatdown of Western Carolina were the Tigers setting a school record for yards in a game (712) and quarterback Nick Marshall missing the game with a knee injury that he suffered in the second half of the Ole Miss win.
True freshman Jeremy Johnson got the start, going 17-21 for 201 yards, four touchdowns and one interception as nine different Tigers ran the ball for a combined 511 yards and the other five touchdowns.
The first of Auburn’s nine touchdowns came less than two minutes into the game, when Tre Mason broke a 20-yard run.
After the touchdown, Auburn lined up in a bizarre formation. Holder Ryan White stood behind three linemen and an H-back in the shotgun. To the left, kicker Cody Parkey lined up with a tight end. To the right, a wide receiver was behind two more linemen, along with an additional tight end in the slot.
After a few seconds, White dropped a few yards back, kneeling down for the traditional hold on a field goal. The tight ends and linemen from both sides came together near the line of scrimmage, while Parkey looped back behind White.
From there, Auburn ran a traditional extra point. Kick up, kick good.
Auburn’s decision to run this formation before just lining up and kicking the PAT like usual might have seemed strange. Were the Tigers really going to go for 2 against an FCS team that they would end up beating by 59 points?
Probably not. But this is what Auburn did in 2013, particularly after its first touchdown of the game.
This is Batman.
During the 2013 season, Ryan White played several roles for the championship-winning Tigers. But, first, let’s go back to December 2009.
White committed to Auburn as a 3-star athlete from Lincoln High School in Tallahassee, Florida. The 5-foot-10 White was listed by most recruiting services as a defensive back, but he was a standout at quarterback. The coaching staff promised him that he would get a shot at quarterback first.
You probably know what happened next. Just look a few paragraphs into Charles Goldberg’s AL.com story on White’s commitment:
White spent about a week of fall camp in 2010 playing quarterback before moving to defensive back. He played in eight games as a true freshman and made a tackle in Auburn’s national championship win over Oregon.
White’s playing time increased in 2011, and he even started the season opener against Clemson in 2012 before — in one of many puzzling moves by one-year defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder — barely playing the rest of the season.
But White, the former quarterback, served as the holder for Parkey from 2011 to 2013. It was a routine, out-of-the-spotlight job for the first two seasons.
Then Gus Malzahn turned White into a special teams superhero.
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