Auburn football: Return of Wildcat formation 'a possibility,' not a priority

rblack@ledger-enquirer.comApril 13, 2014 

Auburn running back Cameron Artis-Payne (44) took direct snaps out of the Wildcat formation in last year's 31-24 win against Washington State. Offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee said he wasn't sure when the formation would make another appearance.

ROBIN TRIMARCHI — rtrimarchi@ledger-enquirer.com Buy Photo

AUBURN, Ala. — The Wildcat formation is still part of Auburn’s offensive playbook.

It’s just not a top priority. In a post-practice interview last Thursday, offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee said his unit hasn’t worked on it at all this spring.

“We’re always going to have a Wildcat element in our offense,” he said. “That’s just part of what we do. Some years it’s more, some years it’s less.”

At the outset of last year, running back Cameron Artis-Payne was given the opportunity to take direct snaps out of the formation, rushing for 27 yards versus Washington State in the season opener. As the weeks wore on, the formation began to disappear. Kiehl Frazier — who moved from quarterback to safety during fall camp before returning to offense as a receiver later in the year — had two carries out of the formation in Auburn’s 35-21 loss to LSU; after that, the Wildcat was more or less put on the shelf for the rest of season.

By that point, the Tigers begun to find their groove with the read-option, as Nick Marshall and Tre Mason formed a dynamic duo that helped the team lead the nation in rushing at 328.3 yards per game.

But as the Tigers continue to experiment with ways to improve offensively, Lashlee wouldn’t rule out the Wildcat making a comeback.

“Knowing Nick and some of our others guys better now, too — some of the young guys coming in — that gives us more options,” he said. “We’ll probably have to wait until the fall to see how much we use it, but it always remains a possibility.”

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