KNOW THE ENEMY: Penn St ‘21

judgefudge101

Member
Oct 25, 2020
13
24
1
I’m happy to bring you my favorite series from the Auburn board. One of our own subscribers is also a football coach and watches extensive film not only to break down what Auburn will be against, but to further his knowledge. While I don’t necessarily agree with his prediction, I’m looking forward to the matchups mentioned. Without further ado, I present an Auburn fan’s breakdown of Penn St in this version of KNOW THE ENEMY: Penn St ‘21


The past 12 years have brought some huge moments in big seasons — a national title, a Heisman winner, another trip to the title game, two SEC championships, a third SEC West Championship and numerous highly ranked showdowns.
In that context, an early-season battle at No. 10 Penn State may not seem like a huge deal. However, this game couldprove to be the defining moment of the next decade for Auburn football. This game will serve as the first big moment of the Bryan Harsin era.
It can begin joyously or miserably. This game matters.
PSU quarterback Sean Clifford.


PSU quarterback Sean Clifford. (Matthew OHaren/USA TODAY Sports)
Offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich follows a productive trend in college football by setting his run strengths to the boundary (short side of the field) with tight ends and wing-set receivers creating extra gaps at the line of scrimmage. He also spaces his passing strength to the wide side of the field, which forces defenses to either declare man coverage early to stay sound and keep numbers over the run strength or play loose with numbers over the receivers to the field and forfeit a defender in the box.
It is an effective strategy when you have a legitimate No. 1 receiver that is a mismatch in man coverage and a quarterback who can run the football.
Sean Clifford is that quarterback. Though he's never been a big producer of fantasy football statistics, he’s nonetheless a gamer who makes the necessary plays to win ball games.
Devyn Ford was the Nittany Lions' projected starting tailback heading into camp, however the duties have shifted toward Noah Cain so far this season. Cain is a bigger back who excels in pounding out yardage three to five yards at a time behind gap-scheme blocking. Ford is a shiftier back who is at his best when given cut-back options behind zone blocking.
They could be an effective complementary tandem when PSU is attacking defenses both ways. Baylor transfer John Lovett is a speed merchant that could be a dangerous weapon but hasn't yet been used very much.
Jahan Dotson is the unquestioned No. 1 receiver for the Lions. He makes explosive cuts in his route running, has tremendously strong hands and runs like a running back after the catch. PSU has shown it will patiently force-feed Dotson until he’s gotten enough opportunities to make game-changing offensive plays. The remainder of the receiving corps is unproven statistically, but the powerfully built Parker Washington is a gamer. Washington blocks fanatically on the edge, runs good routes and never takes a play off.
Penn State has a deep tight end room and has played five players from the group so far. The two that get the money reps when it matters, though, are Brenton Strangeand Theo Johnson. Much like how Auburn uses their tight ends, PSU deploys Strange as a moveable H-Back and Johnson as a true attached, hand-in-the-dirt tight end. The pairing has combined for only four catches so far, but are more than capable targets in the play-action passing game. They're also very solid run blockers on the perimeter.
Left tackle Rasheed Walker is a future millionaire. Walker has light feet in pass protection and uses strong hands and great technique in the running game. The remainder of the line is still a bit unproven. Center Mike Miranda and right tackle Caeden Wallace are returning starters, but they haven't graded out very well.
PSU cornerback Joey Porter Jr.


PSU cornerback Joey Porter Jr. (Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY Sports)
The Brent Pry defense is a modernized version of the 4-3 using a hybrid safety/outside linebacker at the SAM spot. The heart of the defense is predicated on having two effective EDGE players, a thumper at middle linebacker and safeties that squeeze down to help choke out the run and quick-passing game. PSU has all of those — along with big corners that can play solid man-to-man defense.
The defensive line is built around the strength of two players: Temple transfer defensive end Arnold Ebiketie and massive defensive tackle PJ Mustipher. Ebiketie has elite burst off the edge and a knack for causing havoc. Mustipher weighs 326 pounds and is adept at resetting the line of scrimmage and stalling out double teams.
Losing Micah Parsons to the NFL was supposed to be a big blow for the Nittany Lions, but Ellis Brooks may be an even better linebacker. Brooks tackles downhill like a hammer and has enough speed and burst to get over the top in perimeter run force. He’s flanked by Brandon Smith,who is the same kind of player that “Linebacker U” is known for.
Joey Porter Jr. And Tariq Castro-Fieldsare big, physical corners that run well. They are difficult to beat on any kind of vertical route and are great at separating receivers from the ball on comebacks and back-shoulder throws.
PSU is also six cornerbacks deep with guys they feel comfortable playing in pressure situations.
Safety Jaquan Brisker is the straw that stirs the drink for this unit — and what makes the secondary perhaps the strength of the team. Brisker can play effectively as deep safety or can crowd the line of scrimmage as a de facto fourth linebacker. He is the team’s best open-field tackler and best zone coverage defender in the middle of the field. They also aren’t afraid to bring him from the edge on safety blitz concepts for immediate run force on run-heavy percentage downs.
Dotson is an elite punt returner who needs to be schemed. The place-kicking game failed PSU last season; kicker/punter Jordan Stout has missed two field goals and an extra point already in 2021.
dfoujsticsepkrotnepf


Penn State's offense is going to attack Auburn’s safeties in the passing game. Smoke Monday and Bydarrius Knighten appear to be the unit’s most vulnerable targets in coverage.
Against Wisconsin, Yurcich found ways to motion Dotson around to get him matched up on safety Scott Nelson, which yielded approximately 50 percent of the team's offensive output on just three plays. Auburn must be aware of it, adjust accordingly and get sound coverage days out of those two positions.
PSU's defense almost surely will load the box and force Auburn to beat them with someone other than Tank Bigsby. I expect Brisker to essentially shadow Bigsby on all run-percentage downs. On passing downs, they probably will walk an extra blitzer down (to at least bluff) in order to get single-man protection against Ebiketie; he's a mismatch for any AU offensive tackle on the roster.
Auburn must use extra bodies at the line of scrimmage. By using that tactic, the Tigers can extend the run surface by two gaps and get Bigsby into the C and D gaps.
Harsin and Bobo must use tight ends in max protection to keep the edge rushers at bay and give Nix time to get his eyes down field. If you want to neutralize a speedy undersized EDGE player, run right at him with big-bodied lead blockers.
AU needs to run power, counter, and zone scheme runs right at No. 17 (Ebiketie) and make him earn his keep on every down — not just 3rd-and-Long.
zsiaxw5m8hgbeatm2rmz


T.D. Moultry/Derrick Hall vs. Caeden Wallace/Rasheed Walker
PSU's left tackle, Rasheed Walker, will be tough to beat on the edge. However, Wallace is vulnerable on the right side. Auburn needs an EDGE player to get consistent pressure against Wallace while the end to Walker’s side simply contains Clifford in the pocket. The QB is interception prone when he’s pressured and can’t get outside.
John Samuel Shenker vs. Jaquan Brisker
Brisker will be down in the box a lot. Auburn needs to attack the edges in the run game; if Shenker can displace the best run-force player on the perimeter, there will be some yardage to be had. Consistently doing this also will open Shenker up on play action once the safety becomes aggressive in anticipating perimeter runs.
Nick Brahms vs. PJ Mustipher
Brahms cannot allow himself to get overpowered. He must at least force a stalemate and hold his ground. By doing that, he allows Auburn's guards to climb off that double team in search of a linebacker to block.
io6loorumnhorxotjkhe


Auburn RB Tank Bigsby
He must have a big game for Auburn to win. Bigsby as a receiver may be just as important as Bigsby the runner, too.
Auburn DE Colby Wooden
PSU’s interior OL isn’t outstanding and Wooden has been a man child since last season. His ability to penetrate and disrupt could have a huge impact on the PSU run game and can rattle Clifton as a passer. Also look for him to drop into zone coverage on a critical down in a fire-zone blitz concept — something he's managed well in the past.
Auburn LB Owen Pappoe
He will be Mason’s Swiss Army assault weapon, attacking from a number of different alignments and positions. The sophomore offers tremendous coverage versatility. Pappoe has been one of the nation’s elite open-field tacklers going back to last season. I expect a big game from him — with numerous tackles, pressures, a sack and a caused turnover.
arybcuapslmqtb9c1mqr


The Auburn fan in me, the eternally optimistic spirit that I have as a coach, wants Auburn to win this game. I think Auburn can win this game. The analytical cynic in me wonders if it's just too much to ask too early. Nix’s history in hostile environments has been less than stellar, no go-to receiver has emerged for him to lean on and the Auburn offensive line has been mediocre at best for going on three years.
It would take a Herculean effort from a team in transition to win a game like this in an environment like this one. Nix must transform himself into a Captain America-caliber leader to pull his group through. So it’s hard to feel that those hopes for such a win to start the Harsin era can come to fruition.
However ...
That’s exactly what I think will happen. Bobo and Harsin will utilize Nix’s ability in the run game to add another dangerous element to the offense, de-populating the box a bit. Nix will have enough screen and quick-game completions to keep the chains moving and not have to sit back in 3rd-and-Long too often. Penn State has missed double-digit tackles in both of their first two games and No. 4 will make those mistakes.
Derrick Mason won’t allow Yurcich to dial up enough big plays to win the game. Forget Captain America because Captain Auburn will run for 65 and a TD, will throw for another 180 and a TD and will lead his team to a HUGE road win to set his new coach’s trail ablaze early.
Lights out on the white out.
Auburn 27, Penn State 20
 

PSU Soupy

Well-Known Member
Aug 3, 2008
2,658
4,174
1
Recap for busy board readers.
1) PSU is better than Auburn in most spots.
2) Nix does not play well on the road in hostile environments
3) The home field advantage will be big for PSU.

Therefore with all of my analysis. I pick Auburn.

Not saying that it can’t happen…. Just that it had an O.Henry surprise ending.
 

Obliviax

Well-Known Member
Gold Member
Aug 21, 2001
105,840
53,382
1
I’m happy to bring you my favorite series from the Auburn board. One of our own subscribers is also a football coach and watches extensive film not only to break down what Auburn will be against, but to further his knowledge. While I don’t necessarily agree with his prediction, I’m looking forward to the matchups mentioned. Without further ado, I present an Auburn fan’s breakdown of Penn St in this version of KNOW THE ENEMY: Penn St ‘21


The past 12 years have brought some huge moments in big seasons — a national title, a Heisman winner, another trip to the title game, two SEC championships, a third SEC West Championship and numerous highly ranked showdowns.
In that context, an early-season battle at No. 10 Penn State may not seem like a huge deal. However, this game couldprove to be the defining moment of the next decade for Auburn football. This game will serve as the first big moment of the Bryan Harsin era.
It can begin joyously or miserably. This game matters.
PSU quarterback Sean Clifford.


PSU quarterback Sean Clifford. (Matthew OHaren/USA TODAY Sports)
Offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich follows a productive trend in college football by setting his run strengths to the boundary (short side of the field) with tight ends and wing-set receivers creating extra gaps at the line of scrimmage. He also spaces his passing strength to the wide side of the field, which forces defenses to either declare man coverage early to stay sound and keep numbers over the run strength or play loose with numbers over the receivers to the field and forfeit a defender in the box.
It is an effective strategy when you have a legitimate No. 1 receiver that is a mismatch in man coverage and a quarterback who can run the football.
Sean Clifford is that quarterback. Though he's never been a big producer of fantasy football statistics, he’s nonetheless a gamer who makes the necessary plays to win ball games.
Devyn Ford was the Nittany Lions' projected starting tailback heading into camp, however the duties have shifted toward Noah Cain so far this season. Cain is a bigger back who excels in pounding out yardage three to five yards at a time behind gap-scheme blocking. Ford is a shiftier back who is at his best when given cut-back options behind zone blocking.
They could be an effective complementary tandem when PSU is attacking defenses both ways. Baylor transfer John Lovett is a speed merchant that could be a dangerous weapon but hasn't yet been used very much.
Jahan Dotson is the unquestioned No. 1 receiver for the Lions. He makes explosive cuts in his route running, has tremendously strong hands and runs like a running back after the catch. PSU has shown it will patiently force-feed Dotson until he’s gotten enough opportunities to make game-changing offensive plays. The remainder of the receiving corps is unproven statistically, but the powerfully built Parker Washington is a gamer. Washington blocks fanatically on the edge, runs good routes and never takes a play off.
Penn State has a deep tight end room and has played five players from the group so far. The two that get the money reps when it matters, though, are Brenton Strangeand Theo Johnson. Much like how Auburn uses their tight ends, PSU deploys Strange as a moveable H-Back and Johnson as a true attached, hand-in-the-dirt tight end. The pairing has combined for only four catches so far, but are more than capable targets in the play-action passing game. They're also very solid run blockers on the perimeter.
Left tackle Rasheed Walker is a future millionaire. Walker has light feet in pass protection and uses strong hands and great technique in the running game. The remainder of the line is still a bit unproven. Center Mike Miranda and right tackle Caeden Wallace are returning starters, but they haven't graded out very well.
PSU cornerback Joey Porter Jr.


PSU cornerback Joey Porter Jr. (Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY Sports)
The Brent Pry defense is a modernized version of the 4-3 using a hybrid safety/outside linebacker at the SAM spot. The heart of the defense is predicated on having two effective EDGE players, a thumper at middle linebacker and safeties that squeeze down to help choke out the run and quick-passing game. PSU has all of those — along with big corners that can play solid man-to-man defense.
The defensive line is built around the strength of two players: Temple transfer defensive end Arnold Ebiketie and massive defensive tackle PJ Mustipher. Ebiketie has elite burst off the edge and a knack for causing havoc. Mustipher weighs 326 pounds and is adept at resetting the line of scrimmage and stalling out double teams.
Losing Micah Parsons to the NFL was supposed to be a big blow for the Nittany Lions, but Ellis Brooks may be an even better linebacker. Brooks tackles downhill like a hammer and has enough speed and burst to get over the top in perimeter run force. He’s flanked by Brandon Smith,who is the same kind of player that “Linebacker U” is known for.
Joey Porter Jr. And Tariq Castro-Fieldsare big, physical corners that run well. They are difficult to beat on any kind of vertical route and are great at separating receivers from the ball on comebacks and back-shoulder throws.
PSU is also six cornerbacks deep with guys they feel comfortable playing in pressure situations.
Safety Jaquan Brisker is the straw that stirs the drink for this unit — and what makes the secondary perhaps the strength of the team. Brisker can play effectively as deep safety or can crowd the line of scrimmage as a de facto fourth linebacker. He is the team’s best open-field tackler and best zone coverage defender in the middle of the field. They also aren’t afraid to bring him from the edge on safety blitz concepts for immediate run force on run-heavy percentage downs.
Dotson is an elite punt returner who needs to be schemed. The place-kicking game failed PSU last season; kicker/punter Jordan Stout has missed two field goals and an extra point already in 2021.
dfoujsticsepkrotnepf


Penn State's offense is going to attack Auburn’s safeties in the passing game. Smoke Monday and Bydarrius Knighten appear to be the unit’s most vulnerable targets in coverage.
Against Wisconsin, Yurcich found ways to motion Dotson around to get him matched up on safety Scott Nelson, which yielded approximately 50 percent of the team's offensive output on just three plays. Auburn must be aware of it, adjust accordingly and get sound coverage days out of those two positions.
PSU's defense almost surely will load the box and force Auburn to beat them with someone other than Tank Bigsby. I expect Brisker to essentially shadow Bigsby on all run-percentage downs. On passing downs, they probably will walk an extra blitzer down (to at least bluff) in order to get single-man protection against Ebiketie; he's a mismatch for any AU offensive tackle on the roster.
Auburn must use extra bodies at the line of scrimmage. By using that tactic, the Tigers can extend the run surface by two gaps and get Bigsby into the C and D gaps.
Harsin and Bobo must use tight ends in max protection to keep the edge rushers at bay and give Nix time to get his eyes down field. If you want to neutralize a speedy undersized EDGE player, run right at him with big-bodied lead blockers.
AU needs to run power, counter, and zone scheme runs right at No. 17 (Ebiketie) and make him earn his keep on every down — not just 3rd-and-Long.
zsiaxw5m8hgbeatm2rmz


T.D. Moultry/Derrick Hall vs. Caeden Wallace/Rasheed Walker
PSU's left tackle, Rasheed Walker, will be tough to beat on the edge. However, Wallace is vulnerable on the right side. Auburn needs an EDGE player to get consistent pressure against Wallace while the end to Walker’s side simply contains Clifford in the pocket. The QB is interception prone when he’s pressured and can’t get outside.
John Samuel Shenker vs. Jaquan Brisker
Brisker will be down in the box a lot. Auburn needs to attack the edges in the run game; if Shenker can displace the best run-force player on the perimeter, there will be some yardage to be had. Consistently doing this also will open Shenker up on play action once the safety becomes aggressive in anticipating perimeter runs.
Nick Brahms vs. PJ Mustipher
Brahms cannot allow himself to get overpowered. He must at least force a stalemate and hold his ground. By doing that, he allows Auburn's guards to climb off that double team in search of a linebacker to block.
io6loorumnhorxotjkhe


Auburn RB Tank Bigsby
He must have a big game for Auburn to win. Bigsby as a receiver may be just as important as Bigsby the runner, too.
Auburn DE Colby Wooden
PSU’s interior OL isn’t outstanding and Wooden has been a man child since last season. His ability to penetrate and disrupt could have a huge impact on the PSU run game and can rattle Clifton as a passer. Also look for him to drop into zone coverage on a critical down in a fire-zone blitz concept — something he's managed well in the past.
Auburn LB Owen Pappoe
He will be Mason’s Swiss Army assault weapon, attacking from a number of different alignments and positions. The sophomore offers tremendous coverage versatility. Pappoe has been one of the nation’s elite open-field tacklers going back to last season. I expect a big game from him — with numerous tackles, pressures, a sack and a caused turnover.
arybcuapslmqtb9c1mqr


The Auburn fan in me, the eternally optimistic spirit that I have as a coach, wants Auburn to win this game. I think Auburn can win this game. The analytical cynic in me wonders if it's just too much to ask too early. Nix’s history in hostile environments has been less than stellar, no go-to receiver has emerged for him to lean on and the Auburn offensive line has been mediocre at best for going on three years.
It would take a Herculean effort from a team in transition to win a game like this in an environment like this one. Nix must transform himself into a Captain America-caliber leader to pull his group through. So it’s hard to feel that those hopes for such a win to start the Harsin era can come to fruition.
However ...
That’s exactly what I think will happen. Bobo and Harsin will utilize Nix’s ability in the run game to add another dangerous element to the offense, de-populating the box a bit. Nix will have enough screen and quick-game completions to keep the chains moving and not have to sit back in 3rd-and-Long too often. Penn State has missed double-digit tackles in both of their first two games and No. 4 will make those mistakes.
Derrick Mason won’t allow Yurcich to dial up enough big plays to win the game. Forget Captain America because Captain Auburn will run for 65 and a TD, will throw for another 180 and a TD and will lead his team to a HUGE road win to set his new coach’s trail ablaze early.
Lights out on the white out.
Auburn 27, Penn State 20
Thank you. Fun read! I like the positive attitude with tempered reality.

The only correction is at RB. I don't think Ford was ever slated to be #1 and started the year at #3, at best, behind Cain and Lee. Perhaps even at 4 behind Lovett but he has disappeared and nobody seems to know where he is on this team right now. (secret weapon?).

Opposing QBs seem to play well against us so we'll see which Nix shows up.

I really like the explanation of using the run game against the short side and passing game on the wide side. Great explanation.
 

Jerry

Well-Known Member
May 29, 2001
4,212
8,911
1
Oh, that last little blurb is from the coach that wrote it, not me. I don’t expect Nix to do well nor do I expect Auburn to win

Damn it, I much prefer a cocky, overconfident attitude on the part of opposing teams and fans.

But seriously, thanks for the excellent and informative write-up. I sure hope the guy who wrote that got the score backward. I'm picking Penn State to win myself...but with total humility...;)
 

Texas Lion

Well-Known Member
Gold Member
Aug 10, 2018
2,739
3,192
1
I am starting to think, because of this arrogance, that Penn State wins in a blowout. Seems almost everything I have read is an undervalue of PSU and to be honest PSU has been a top 10 program for the last 6 years. Auburn hasn'tr.....I change my prediction to PSU 45 Auburn 10.
 

PSU2UNC

Well-Known Member
Feb 9, 2016
5,651
6,291
1
I’m happy to bring you my favorite series from the Auburn board. One of our own subscribers is also a football coach and watches extensive film not only to break down what Auburn will be against, but to further his knowledge. While I don’t necessarily agree with his prediction, I’m looking forward to the matchups mentioned. Without further ado, I present an Auburn fan’s breakdown of Penn St in this version of KNOW THE ENEMY: Penn St ‘21


The past 12 years have brought some huge moments in big seasons — a national title, a Heisman winner, another trip to the title game, two SEC championships, a third SEC West Championship and numerous highly ranked showdowns.
In that context, an early-season battle at No. 10 Penn State may not seem like a huge deal. However, this game couldprove to be the defining moment of the next decade for Auburn football. This game will serve as the first big moment of the Bryan Harsin era.
It can begin joyously or miserably. This game matters.
PSU quarterback Sean Clifford.


PSU quarterback Sean Clifford. (Matthew OHaren/USA TODAY Sports)
Offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich follows a productive trend in college football by setting his run strengths to the boundary (short side of the field) with tight ends and wing-set receivers creating extra gaps at the line of scrimmage. He also spaces his passing strength to the wide side of the field, which forces defenses to either declare man coverage early to stay sound and keep numbers over the run strength or play loose with numbers over the receivers to the field and forfeit a defender in the box.
It is an effective strategy when you have a legitimate No. 1 receiver that is a mismatch in man coverage and a quarterback who can run the football.
Sean Clifford is that quarterback. Though he's never been a big producer of fantasy football statistics, he’s nonetheless a gamer who makes the necessary plays to win ball games.
Devyn Ford was the Nittany Lions' projected starting tailback heading into camp, however the duties have shifted toward Noah Cain so far this season. Cain is a bigger back who excels in pounding out yardage three to five yards at a time behind gap-scheme blocking. Ford is a shiftier back who is at his best when given cut-back options behind zone blocking.
They could be an effective complementary tandem when PSU is attacking defenses both ways. Baylor transfer John Lovett is a speed merchant that could be a dangerous weapon but hasn't yet been used very much.
Jahan Dotson is the unquestioned No. 1 receiver for the Lions. He makes explosive cuts in his route running, has tremendously strong hands and runs like a running back after the catch. PSU has shown it will patiently force-feed Dotson until he’s gotten enough opportunities to make game-changing offensive plays. The remainder of the receiving corps is unproven statistically, but the powerfully built Parker Washington is a gamer. Washington blocks fanatically on the edge, runs good routes and never takes a play off.
Penn State has a deep tight end room and has played five players from the group so far. The two that get the money reps when it matters, though, are Brenton Strangeand Theo Johnson. Much like how Auburn uses their tight ends, PSU deploys Strange as a moveable H-Back and Johnson as a true attached, hand-in-the-dirt tight end. The pairing has combined for only four catches so far, but are more than capable targets in the play-action passing game. They're also very solid run blockers on the perimeter.
Left tackle Rasheed Walker is a future millionaire. Walker has light feet in pass protection and uses strong hands and great technique in the running game. The remainder of the line is still a bit unproven. Center Mike Miranda and right tackle Caeden Wallace are returning starters, but they haven't graded out very well.
PSU cornerback Joey Porter Jr.


PSU cornerback Joey Porter Jr. (Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY Sports)
The Brent Pry defense is a modernized version of the 4-3 using a hybrid safety/outside linebacker at the SAM spot. The heart of the defense is predicated on having two effective EDGE players, a thumper at middle linebacker and safeties that squeeze down to help choke out the run and quick-passing game. PSU has all of those — along with big corners that can play solid man-to-man defense.
The defensive line is built around the strength of two players: Temple transfer defensive end Arnold Ebiketie and massive defensive tackle PJ Mustipher. Ebiketie has elite burst off the edge and a knack for causing havoc. Mustipher weighs 326 pounds and is adept at resetting the line of scrimmage and stalling out double teams.
Losing Micah Parsons to the NFL was supposed to be a big blow for the Nittany Lions, but Ellis Brooks may be an even better linebacker. Brooks tackles downhill like a hammer and has enough speed and burst to get over the top in perimeter run force. He’s flanked by Brandon Smith,who is the same kind of player that “Linebacker U” is known for.
Joey Porter Jr. And Tariq Castro-Fieldsare big, physical corners that run well. They are difficult to beat on any kind of vertical route and are great at separating receivers from the ball on comebacks and back-shoulder throws.
PSU is also six cornerbacks deep with guys they feel comfortable playing in pressure situations.
Safety Jaquan Brisker is the straw that stirs the drink for this unit — and what makes the secondary perhaps the strength of the team. Brisker can play effectively as deep safety or can crowd the line of scrimmage as a de facto fourth linebacker. He is the team’s best open-field tackler and best zone coverage defender in the middle of the field. They also aren’t afraid to bring him from the edge on safety blitz concepts for immediate run force on run-heavy percentage downs.
Dotson is an elite punt returner who needs to be schemed. The place-kicking game failed PSU last season; kicker/punter Jordan Stout has missed two field goals and an extra point already in 2021.
dfoujsticsepkrotnepf


Penn State's offense is going to attack Auburn’s safeties in the passing game. Smoke Monday and Bydarrius Knighten appear to be the unit’s most vulnerable targets in coverage.
Against Wisconsin, Yurcich found ways to motion Dotson around to get him matched up on safety Scott Nelson, which yielded approximately 50 percent of the team's offensive output on just three plays. Auburn must be aware of it, adjust accordingly and get sound coverage days out of those two positions.
PSU's defense almost surely will load the box and force Auburn to beat them with someone other than Tank Bigsby. I expect Brisker to essentially shadow Bigsby on all run-percentage downs. On passing downs, they probably will walk an extra blitzer down (to at least bluff) in order to get single-man protection against Ebiketie; he's a mismatch for any AU offensive tackle on the roster.
Auburn must use extra bodies at the line of scrimmage. By using that tactic, the Tigers can extend the run surface by two gaps and get Bigsby into the C and D gaps.
Harsin and Bobo must use tight ends in max protection to keep the edge rushers at bay and give Nix time to get his eyes down field. If you want to neutralize a speedy undersized EDGE player, run right at him with big-bodied lead blockers.
AU needs to run power, counter, and zone scheme runs right at No. 17 (Ebiketie) and make him earn his keep on every down — not just 3rd-and-Long.
zsiaxw5m8hgbeatm2rmz


T.D. Moultry/Derrick Hall vs. Caeden Wallace/Rasheed Walker
PSU's left tackle, Rasheed Walker, will be tough to beat on the edge. However, Wallace is vulnerable on the right side. Auburn needs an EDGE player to get consistent pressure against Wallace while the end to Walker’s side simply contains Clifford in the pocket. The QB is interception prone when he’s pressured and can’t get outside.
John Samuel Shenker vs. Jaquan Brisker
Brisker will be down in the box a lot. Auburn needs to attack the edges in the run game; if Shenker can displace the best run-force player on the perimeter, there will be some yardage to be had. Consistently doing this also will open Shenker up on play action once the safety becomes aggressive in anticipating perimeter runs.
Nick Brahms vs. PJ Mustipher
Brahms cannot allow himself to get overpowered. He must at least force a stalemate and hold his ground. By doing that, he allows Auburn's guards to climb off that double team in search of a linebacker to block.
io6loorumnhorxotjkhe


Auburn RB Tank Bigsby
He must have a big game for Auburn to win. Bigsby as a receiver may be just as important as Bigsby the runner, too.
Auburn DE Colby Wooden
PSU’s interior OL isn’t outstanding and Wooden has been a man child since last season. His ability to penetrate and disrupt could have a huge impact on the PSU run game and can rattle Clifton as a passer. Also look for him to drop into zone coverage on a critical down in a fire-zone blitz concept — something he's managed well in the past.
Auburn LB Owen Pappoe
He will be Mason’s Swiss Army assault weapon, attacking from a number of different alignments and positions. The sophomore offers tremendous coverage versatility. Pappoe has been one of the nation’s elite open-field tacklers going back to last season. I expect a big game from him — with numerous tackles, pressures, a sack and a caused turnover.
arybcuapslmqtb9c1mqr


The Auburn fan in me, the eternally optimistic spirit that I have as a coach, wants Auburn to win this game. I think Auburn can win this game. The analytical cynic in me wonders if it's just too much to ask too early. Nix’s history in hostile environments has been less than stellar, no go-to receiver has emerged for him to lean on and the Auburn offensive line has been mediocre at best for going on three years.
It would take a Herculean effort from a team in transition to win a game like this in an environment like this one. Nix must transform himself into a Captain America-caliber leader to pull his group through. So it’s hard to feel that those hopes for such a win to start the Harsin era can come to fruition.
However ...
That’s exactly what I think will happen. Bobo and Harsin will utilize Nix’s ability in the run game to add another dangerous element to the offense, de-populating the box a bit. Nix will have enough screen and quick-game completions to keep the chains moving and not have to sit back in 3rd-and-Long too often. Penn State has missed double-digit tackles in both of their first two games and No. 4 will make those mistakes.
Derrick Mason won’t allow Yurcich to dial up enough big plays to win the game. Forget Captain America because Captain Auburn will run for 65 and a TD, will throw for another 180 and a TD and will lead his team to a HUGE road win to set his new coach’s trail ablaze early.
Lights out on the white out.
Auburn 27, Penn State 20
Thanks for sharing this, but he loses a lot of credibility when he says stuff like:
"Devyn Ford was the Nittany Lions' projected starting tailback heading into camp"
Nope. Maybe there was discussion about Cain vs Lee but Ford was never projected to start this year.

Lovett is unlikely to play (hasn't played yet this year; I strongly suspect this is a "doghouse" situation)

Ellis Brooks is definitely NOT a better linebacker than Micah Parsons. Brooks is a very nice player and may have a better college career (since Micah only played 2 seasons), but Brooks is not the freak that Micah is.

And he's obviously wrong with the score prediction ;-)
 

AWS1022

Well-Known Member
Nov 12, 2011
28,915
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Thanks for sharing this, but he loses a lot of credibility when he says stuff like:
"Devyn Ford was the Nittany Lions' projected starting tailback heading into camp"
Nope. Maybe there was discussion about Cain vs Lee but Ford was never projected to start this year.

Lovett is unlikely to play (hasn't played yet this year; I strongly suspect this is a "doghouse" situation)

Ellis Brooks is definitely NOT a better linebacker than Micah Parsons. Brooks is a very nice player and may have a better college career (since Micah only played 2 seasons), but Brooks is not the freak that Micah is.

And he's obviously wrong with the score prediction ;-)
He’s building up the opponent to soften the blow of a loss or build up the hype of a win. He didn’t say Brooks was a better athlete than Parsons, just a better LB and at this point in PSU terms, he might be. Parsons is still learning and didn’t really give PSU enough years to truly show how good he could be. He was way off on RB, but he likely watched film from last year, saw Ford and wasn’t aware Cain was hurt and then saw that Ford was back this year, assuming he would be the starter. Overall, a pretty complimentary write up in terms of PSU.
 

LionsandBear

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2009
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He’s building up the opponent to soften the blow of a loss or build up the hype of a win. He didn’t say Brooks was a better athlete than Parsons, just a better LB and at this point in PSU terms, he might be. Parsons is still learning and didn’t really give PSU enough years to truly show how good he could be. He was way off on RB, but he likely watched film from last year, saw Ford and wasn’t aware Cain was hurt and then saw that Ford was back this year, assuming he would be the starter. Overall, a pretty complimentary write up in terms of PSU.

Agree on all points.
 

LafayetteBear

Well-Known Member
Dec 1, 2009
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We would really benefit from having Ellis Brooks in there for the entire game. I sure hope he does not get tagged with another targeting penalty. The ejection that comes with it is a really harsh sanction. Most especially when it is a close call, and assessed only after a replay review. Cripes.
 

mcgunns

Well-Known Member
Jan 21, 2014
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Thanks for the breakdown, great post. Always interesting to read this type of analysis from a fresh perspective so I can reconsider my view of the guys I have biased opinions on.
(You should probably get your new coach Derek's name right though.)
 

judgefudge101

Member
Oct 25, 2020
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Thanks for the breakdown, great post. Always interesting to read this type of analysis from a fresh perspective so I can reconsider my view of the guys I have biased opinions on.
(You should probably get your new coach Derek's name right though.)
(I’m not the one that wrote the article though.)
 
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