Mississippi State's defense had its way with Auburn's offense last Saturday, and now we know a big reason why:
Senior defensive back Corey Broomfield and senior linebacker Cam Lawrence have said after MSU's 28-10 victory over Auburn University Saturday that they were sure what the Tigers offense was calling from the line of scrimmage before the ball was snapped.
"We do a great job of preparing and we knew what the play was before they ever ran them," Broomfield said. "That's not a joke. We knew what they were doing, where the ball was going and who was getting it before the ball was snapped."
I know that Dan Mullen did some fanatical video study as a part of Urban Meyer's staff at Florida, something that allowed those coaches to pick up on tendencies on a fairly regular basis. It would appear that they did it again here, though Auburn's reduced playbook for Kiehl Frazier probably helped them out quite a bit.
I went back and watched a couple of Auburn drives on my recording of the game early this morning, and sure enough, you could see the Mississippi State players gesturing over their heads whenever a passing play was coming. Plus on every audible, Lawrence would run up to the line to see what was happening before scurrying back to his spot a few yards behind the D-line. Only once did they gesture before a run, and they never failed to gesture before a pass. Even on second and third-and-long plays, when you'd expect a pass to be coming, they got it exactly right as to whether a run or pass play was called.
In addition to the tape, the results certainly back up the idea that the MSU defense knew what was coming. Auburn scored only three offensive points in the game, and they came off of a 12-play, 33-yard drive. That was Auburn's longest drive before garbage time. And speaking of garbage time, 124 of Auburn's 216 total yards came on the Tigers' final three drives after the game had long been decided. It was a masterful performance.
That wasn't the only bit of tipping off that was going on last weekend. As Steven Godfrey pointed out in his all-access piece on WKU, the Hilltopper coaches figured out that Bama's D.J. Fluker was tipping off run vs. pass with his foot placement. Nick Saban was grateful when someone pointed it out to him.