Auburn Football: Don't Be Shocked to See a Quick Offensive Turnaround in 2013

Barrett Sallee@BarrettSalleeSEC Football Lead WriterApril 9, 2013

Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn
Auburn head coach Gus MalzahnJosh D. Weiss-USA TODAY Sports

Everything about Auburn under first-year head coach Gus Malzahn is about tempo. The Tigers practice fast and play fast, which means that the installation of new schemes on each side of the ball will also have to happen in a hurry.

The 2013 depth charted started to take shape on Saturday, when the Tigers held their first full scrimmage of the spring. 

Kiehl Frazier entered the 2012 season as the starter at quarterback. But two touchdowns and eight interceptions through the first four-and-a-half games earned him a one-way ticket to the bench. Now that he's back in Malzahn's system—a system he was successful with in high school—Frazier seems confident.

"It's different knowing the confidence level that I have," said quarterback Kiehl Frazier (0:50 mark). "The guys around me, they believe in me. They believe that every time they run a route that I'm going to get the ball where it needs to be."

Getting quality information from closed scrimmages is difficult at times, but it's clear from the players' reactions that the offense was impressive inside the confines of Jordan-Hare Stadium. 

"Guys were making plays," quarterback Jonathan Wallace said (0:56 mark). "Everybody was making plays. The offensive line kept a good pace. Guys were making unbelievable catches today and picking up first downs. It was a very successful day today."

Typically, there's a scrimmage or two during each practice session where the offense puts up video game numbers. It also could, in theory, be an indictment of the defense as well.

I don't think that's the case here. Auburn's cornerbacks have played well this spring and Justin Garrett has settled into that "star" position in defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson's 4-2-5- defense according to

It's clear that the two quarterbacks are more comfortable and confident with what they're doing.

For good reason.

Auburn's players, for the most part, were recruited to run Malzahn's system. That system is designed to emphasize the downhill rushing attack out of the spread and get the ball outside to playmakers in space. 

One of those playmakers could be junior wide receiver Jaylon Denson, who according to, has emerged as a reliable receiver for the two quarterbacks this spring.

"Right now, if you said who do I know that I can count on, I know I can count on him,"offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee said. "So we're moving him around a little bit. Putting him in a few different spots. He's smart enough, he can handle it, and he's making plays."

The Tiger offense was the punch line to a lot of jokes in 2012, but Malzahn has orchestrated a remarkable turnaround before in the SEC with previously-unreliable pieces.

When he took over as Auburn's offensive coordinator in 2009, he turned around an Auburn offense that finished 104th in the country in total offense (302.3 YPG) the previous season and set an Auburn single-season total offense record at the time (431.8 YPG).

Sure, his numbers took a dip in 2011; but that was only after the tempo—a staple of Malzahn's offense—was slowed in an effort to protect the defense.

Can he replicate his offensive success from his first rebuilding effort on the Plains?


With four straight recruiting classes ranked in the top 15 of the composite index, the talent is there. Part of the reason that Gene Chizik is no longer employed by Auburn University is the fact that the talent on campus wasn't developed.

A quick turnaround in 2013 for the Tigers shouldn't be a surprise.

With the players already in the program and the scheme being employed, it should be the expectation.



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