2014 NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP LIVE COMMENTRY – AUBURN vs FSU

Posted: January 7, 2014 in All Things Power Spread

PREGAME

new-york-snow-storm
First Florida, now California. Lucky all you at the game. 🙂 Everyone still stuck in the snow in the Northeast. I’m still in Pittsburgh. Temps heading below 0 tonight. 1 degree currently! 
 
This may not be the day that the Power Spread officially makes it’s statement as FSU has loads of talent and an unusual Freshman QB. Add in a great up and comer, Defensive Coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, plus the near flawless execution the Noles have shown all year and this may be a difficult day for Auburn (Read More).
 
Still, never underestimate the Power Spread. Malzahn’s offense can score against anyone, regardless of talent. If Auburn can stay close – they have the experience as FSU hasn’t had any close games. The question will be Can Auburn Stay Close?
 
NO MATTER, IF ITS NOT THIS YEAR ITS NEXT YEAR, AND THE NEXT, AND THE NEXT.
POWER SPREAD IS HERE TO STAY!  
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READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL!

2014 NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP

1ST QUARTER

Incredible Power Spread Football in 3 out of 4 phases of this game. Auburn’s Offense and Defense. All Gus Malzahn with help from old timer Ellis Johnson. Florida State’s Defense led by up and coming genius DC Jeremy Pruitt. The one that isn’t – Jimbo Fisher’s Offense. Even with James Winston it is hurting him. We can call his offense the Spread Power, starting from pro or bunched sets and spreading after the snap. Execution has to be flawless. Not so with Power Spread Offenses.
 
Auburn came out tight and after one decent run, FSU unleashed their great Passive Aggressive Blitz packages. FSU looked good on their first drive, but big time aggression and mix of coverages on Auburn created pressure and confusion for Winston who threw behind an open WR that Auburn almost intercepted. Another big pass to Greene set up FSU up to score, but the momentum changer was a sack of Winston on an aggressive blitz to hold them to a FG.
 
From there Auburn had a tough 3rd+1 get. FSU’s great athleticism and scheme had Auburn in trouble but a great pass and catch down the middle into coverage to Davis put Auburn into position. But a huge sack by ultra talented Mario Edwards ended that. Punt to the 2.
 
So far the great schemes on D were winning out. Along with the enormous talent on FSU’s Defense. But thanks to the non-PS Offense of FSU, this was about to change.
 
First play from the 2 had Winston in the Shotgun for a quick pass. Good call, but good aggressive man coverage by Auburn. (Pay attention Fickell) The next play call was silly. I Formation – perfect for play action roll out, but not Fisher. Power football that Auburn run blitzed for an easy stuff. Now a bad situation. 3rd+Long from their own 2. Incomplete with nice man coverage on the sideline. Big PR and now the momentum is all for Auburn.
 
Great job by Pruitt’s D to keep Auburn to 3rd+Goal from the 9 after starting at FSU’s 25, but after letting the play clock run down to Zero, Malzahn called in an absolutely brilliant adjustment – SCREEN LEFT AGAINST BLITZ RIGHT – 4 BLOCKERS VS 2 DBS WINS EVERY TIME – TOUCHDOWN AUBURN. FROM THE PS MASTER! 
 
MORE PS DEFENSE FROM MALZAHN/JOHNSON. MIX COVERAGES AND BLITZ PACKAGES. ANOTHER SACK AND ANOTHER PUNT FROM FSU!
Auburn 7-3
 
 

2ND QUARTER

Big run Mason. 50 yd TD pass to Melvin Ray! Sophmore with 4 catches on the yr coming in, but a top recruit. NOW THAT’S POWER SPREAD DEPTH!! They had a Jet Sweep Decoy that totally sucked in the Back Seven, who were playing overaggressive anyway. Like I wondered in my preview, WOULD PRUITT FINALLY BE OVERMATCHED? HE’S BRILLIANT BUT HASN’T SEEN ANYTHING LIKE MALZAHN. 
 
PS runs, Mason and Marshall, down the field eating up chunks of yardage. That big pass has made FSU more conservative. A punch to the jaw of Pruitt. He will need to recover and maintain aggression. Marshall on scramble just missed 1st Down. Then a short missed FG. Not good. But momentum still on Auburn’s side.
 
BIG FUMBLE BY WINSTON. FISHER IS COMPLETELY OUTMATCHED WITH HIS PRO AND SPREAD POWER STUFF THAT REQUIRES SUCH PERFECT EXECUTION. AUBURN’S D HAVING A LOT OF FUN!
 
Fisher has totally bagged the Pro and Bunched sets. All Passing and Power Spread. AND IT’S WORKING!! Hilarious. Under the pressure, FSU’s most consistent WR, Greene, drops a 1st Down pass on 3rd and short. FAKE PUNT BARELY GETS FIRST DOWN. From there PS runs Winston and Freeman, Pass to Greene for 12. Then a huge scramble for 21 Winston. Spread Draw up the gut Freeman TOUCHDOWN! Noles back in it with 1:28 left in the Half!
 

FSU countering the Auburn PS Defense with PS offense. Haha – we all come around eventually, Jimbo.

Fired up FSU stuffs Auburn to end the half.
Auburn 21-10
 
 
 

HALFTIME

It’s not complicated. The 2 Defenses are Power Spread and have played very well. Malzahn wil one day be called the Father of the Power Spread, so even though FSU has the big talent edge on Defense, plus a great scheme, it’s tough to stop the master. Jimbo Fisher thinks it’s 1800s fundamentals and execution and his offense has stunk until he went to the Power Spread late in the half.
 
The worst of his play calling was the 2nd and Long run up the gut  from his own 2. OUT OF THE I FORMATION! No play action with a great QB. From there things almost got away. He’s very lucky that the Fake Punt got the first down. It was very close and would have been disastrous had it failed. From there a big running play from who else…? The Quarterback. Then a Power Spread run up the middle for a Touchdown.
 
If Fisher stays with more Power Spread this may turn into a great game with all 4 phases now using PS Football.  If he goes with the FEAR and tries to eat up the clock with Pro and Bunched Set runs to keep Auburn’s offense off the field – Good Luck. I can tell you this. Gus Malzahn is ALL POWER SPREAD and will keep up the pressure both on O and D. 
 
Enjoy your 2nd Half of Power Spread Football.
 
 
 
 

3RD QUARTER

Jimbo staying Spread. Pruitt staying aggressive on D. Good job by FSU. Shows guts and smarts

First Drive nowhere, but a good job by the FSU defense. Auburn came close to breaking a couple, but FSU stayed aggressive, got them in a hole and held. PS defense can give up big plays, but aggression is needed. 100% passive zone, read&react defense will get you killed against PS Offenses. Especially Malzahn.
 
Now the Hurry Up Tempo Passing Spread. Looks like the old Run&Shoot with Warren Moon! Nice stuff from Fisher and Winston in command with short passes to counteract the aggressive Auburn D. Now a Roll Right scramble by Winston – using his feet – that’s it guys. Great pass+catch to Benjamin! Wondering where he was. Now a conventional Pitch, but good call as a change up. Still only nets 2 yds. Back to the Spread, Jimbo! Big Blitz Auburn, 3rd+8. Fake blitz, LB keying on Winston, scramble – not enough for the 1st. GREAT CHANGEUP ON DEFENSE. PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE DECEPTION LED WINSTON INTO A MISTAKE SCRAMBLE. 41 YD FG GOOD. FSU is in this. Barely.
 
More great D by FSU keeping this game tight. Hard to tell if it’s scheme by Pruitt, or Malzahn getting a bit conservative here. May just be Auburn seems to have come down a bit in energy – a little flat. Better watch it. Big play by FSU and this whole thing could change really quick.
 
Great Fake Blitz on 3rd down results in a sack with on 4 rushing because of Oline confusion. Amazing stuff. PS Deception everywhere! Jimbo shaking his head, like it’s his Oline’s faulty play, but the schemes have burned him all day, whether he admits it or not. Another punt.
 
More good stuff from Pruitt’s D, but Malzahn is getting conservative. Surprisingly. All runs and flair passes. Is he lulling FSU for a big one later. Like the 1st Half. 
 
Another drive of short passes by FSU, mixing some PS running. But Auburn mixing schemes, playing aggressive pass defense. It’s very tough sledding and a 3rd down incomplete to Benjamin as the Auburn defender just SMACKS the ball out of his hands. Another Punt. A lot of pressure on FSU. Is a play action deep one coming from Malzahn?
Auburn 21-13
 
 

4TH QUARTER

Too much running again by Malzahn. Now a big loss on a Jet Sweep to Ricardo Lewis. 2nd+16 and BIG INTERCEPTION P.J. WILLIAMS!! There’s the one big play I was talking about.
 

Really shocked by Malzahn. PS is always Aggressive. No let up. He really got conservative with only an 8 point lead??

Big run up the middle off the Shotgun for 16. Huge post pass and nice catch by Benjamin for 21.  Suddenly the Auburn Defense is playing straight up Zone>?? What the…? 8 yd flair pass to the FB Abrams for the Touchdown!!
 

What in God’s name is going on?? First the O goes conservative and now the D into a passive zone after one big run?? This is a shocker. Good stuff by FSU for staying aggressive – especially on Defense by Pruitt.

 FINALLY A BIG PASS FOR AUBURN! – Down the sideline for 26 to Louis. Now more of a Hurry-Up Tempo and a good run by Mason for another 1st. Now Marshall on the keep wide lft sideline for another 1st. WHERE HAS THIS BEEN, GUS!?? Another first for Mason. FSU  12. Auburn getting conservative again. 2nd+8.  Really Slow Quick Huddle. Marshall keep, but wrapped by Williams. 3rd+4 at the 8. More Slow No, roll right, Inc. 21 FG GOOD BUT THIS IS NOT PS FOOTBALL!
 

THIS IS ALL TOO TRANSPARENT BY GUS. NO 1ST DOWN PASSES AT ALL!!?? He said he was going to try to wear them down. He didn’t lie. Might as well have just given FSU the playbook!

RIGHT ON CUE – 101 YD KR FOR TOUCHDOWN BY TRUE FRESHMAN LEVONTE WHITFIELD!! Terrible coverage by Auburn. Someone pulled a hammy and went down. Flat energy and no help from Malzahn. Wow.
 
TWO MORE RUNS ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!?? Two tackles for loss by ultra talent Christian Jones!! Now a pass-  of course – on 3rd+11. Now the Noles stayed conservative, 4 man rush, no one open, finally Marshall scrambles free – great pass+catch by Sammy Coates for a 1st! Unbelievable. Another run, Mason for 8. Guys really tiring on both sides of the ball now. Top DT Timmy Jernigan limping off. Mason gets the 1st. MIDFIELD. FINALLY A 1ST DOWN PASS!!! THANK YOU GUS! FIRST DOWN 17 YDS TO COATES. Another run – keep by Marshall for 5 yd loss on a Safety run blitz by Lemarcus Joyner! 2nd+15 and a simple Read Option for a 37 YD TD RUN BY MASON!! UNBELIEVABLE. FSU LOOKED EXHAUSTED, GETTING BLOCKED, AND FALLING OFF MASON ON TACKLE ATTEMPTS. 
 

Well, maybe Malzahn had it right after all. But if you ask me it didn’t have to be this hard and Winston still has a chance for the final drive. BUT.. he’s never been in this position before in his college career.

Short passing spread here we go. Greene for 8 then Greene for 49 yds! Incredible. Now Auburn’s D looks tired, but I don’t know why that would be. They haven’t been on the field?? Pass to Freeman for 6. 47 seconds left. 5 quick pass to Kenny Shaw. 1st Down at the 12. Dropped by Greene – dangerous over middle but incomplete. Another quick out to RB Freeman for 7 to the 5. Sloppy and Tired by everyone = Delay of game to the 10. 3rd and 3 is now 3rd+8. SLANT TO GREENE INC BUT PASS INTERFERENCE ON AUBURN’S BEST CB, CHRIS DAVIS!! Replay shows it was a good call. Unbelievable. PLAY ACTION 2 YD TD PASS TO LEAPING BIG WR BENJAMIN FOR THE TOUCHDOWN! UNBELIEVABLE! 
FSU FANS GOING WILD! 13 Seconds Left!

KO to Davis. Great coverage down at the 16. Gus screwed up! But has one play left. Make that 2. Hook and lateral stuff and it’s over. FSU too fast for that stuff.

FLORIDA STATE  34  AUBURN   31

MVP: JEREMY PRUITT DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR FLORIDA STATE

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WRAP

Congrats to Florida State. Jimbo Fisher has done a masterful job in every aspect of the job. From recruiting to hiring and filling out his staff, 2 different times, to going back to calling plays full time this year. New faces, freshman QB, new Coordinators and a 14-0 National Championship. Wow. Fisher knows football, he knows offense and he knows players and people. 
 
Saying all that, I have to also say that he was the weak link of the 4 phases of the game. Both Defenses were PS and of course Auburn’s Offense. The first half blatantly showed this fact. Great defensive game plans and Auburn doing great things on O, while FSU struggled on O. To Fisher’s credit he went with a lot of spread and no huddle in the 2nd Half. Even throwing in some Hurry-Up Tempo. Because it’s not something that FSU has don regularly all year, they still struggled substaining drives against Auburn’s Offense. So far, everything in this game made sense to me. 
 
-9cb6e6cbe62f0c87Then the shocker. GUS MALZAHN SHUT IT DOWN. I never thought the words “Shut It Down” would be in the same sentence with Gus Malzahn’s name. This is the anti-thesis of Power Spread Football. It’s Freedom, Aggression, Variety, and Balance. It’s full blast all the time. No Fear Zone. Not this time for Malzahn. He said at halftime that he was going to wear them down in the 2nd Half and that’s exactly what he did. Auburn’s last TD Drive that’s exactly what happened. FSU was exhausted. BUT AT THE COST OF A CLOSE LAST MINUTE GAME. Now maybe Malzahn didn’t expect that a freshman would pull through for FSU, but I certainly wouldn’t have put faith in that myself. 
 
Either way it’s not PS Football from a PS Master. After a fantastic first half in just another bit of masterful football scheming by Malzahn, he really dropped the ball in the 3rd Quarter. Bolmanitis just like Meyer had for a large part of the year at Ohio State. With Auburn’s D still playing fantastic in the 3rd, Auburn needed to be aggressive and get at least a TD if not more in that 3rd Quarter. Now, Jeremy Pruitt’s D stayed aggressive. That first drive had some big pass attempts that almost hit big. But after that Malzahn shut it down, put his team in a pressure situation, and couldn’t get the clock to run out fast enough.
 
One last thing about Pruitt. My MVP. Great job. Even in the first half when Malzahn was whirled his usual wizardry and had heads spinning. Pruitt hung in there and above all else – HE DIDN’T GIVE IN, GET SCARED AND GET CONSERVATIVE. Staying aggressive in his D schemes till the very end – even when the D was fatiguing fast – helped keep Auburn close and enable the last minute comeback. He probably couldn’t stay with Malzahn’s offense if Malzahn pulled out all the stops as he did in the 1st half, but Pruitt stayed aggressive. Malzahn didn’t. End of story.
 
Summary
I can only say – wow. Winston proving to be a clutch Freshman was not too surprising as he seemed to have that in him (see preview). Florida State pulling it out was a little surprising as they didn’t have any close games this year, but not too much. Again, they showed character all year and had way more talent on their side. Fisher being smart enough to stick with Spread schemes the 2nd Half also didn’t surprise me too much. He’s a passing guy, he knows how to do it and he’s smart enough to know that’s what needed to happen. Little more surprised at the Hurry-Up Tempo, but again, he was up against a wall. Pruitt’s D staying aggressive. Auburn’s D staying aggressive. NONE OF THIS IS THAT SURPRISING.
 
What’s SHOCKING is Malzahn clamming up. I think the pressure simply got to Gus. Like it got to Meyer this year once the Big 10 Schedule started. They are human. Malzahn has hardly done much wrong since coming to the college ranks, but he was never poised to win the National Championship as a College Football Head Coach. Up 21-3, then 21-10, he wanted to milk the lead and wear down FSU. This is Anti-PS Football. 
 
Malzahn will learn from this. I have learned from this as I said I would in the preview. And I think a lot of fans got to really see Malzahn’s offense without hyperbole of a star player interfering and hopefully everyone learned something. FSU had a fantastic year and Pruitt may be a future head  coach. Winston’s the real deal, but a sophmore jinx isn’t out of the question. And Fisher’s execution based football teams won’t be perfect most years – maybe never again. As I said in my preview, the Power Spread is the future. You saw a big glimpse of it tonight. Not only on Offense, but on Defense as well. Even with the TEAM statements by Winston in the post game pressers.
 
Everyone is learning and growing. And as they do, the Power Spread will carry on. 
 
Like I said – if it’s not this year it’s next year, and the next and the next. See you soon…
 
~PS  

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