When Gus Malzahn was hired as Auburn's offensive coordinator, he brought with him high expectations. After one year at Arkansas, Malzahn was hired by Tulsa to be offensive coordinator and assistant head coach at Tulsa, where he lead the nation's top offense two years in a row.
While his offensive scheme has proved to be successful, Malzahn inherited Auburn players that were recruited to play in a more pro-style attack.
Though players such as Ben Tate and Chris Todd thrived in this offense, they lacked the main characteristic Malzahn likes in his players: versatility.
Tate was a very good downhill running back who wasn't a huge threat in the passing game, while Todd was a serviceable quarterback that lacked mobility.
Gustav has made it no secret that he wants to play the same eleven players all drive on offense. In order to do this, he needs players that can be moved around the field to different positions.
This will allow Auburn to run a fully up-tempo no huddle offense, making it more difficult for opposing defenses to rest and make substitutions mid-drive.
After one season and two recruiting classes, the Tigers are ready to put an offense on the field that will be full of playmakers.
In those two recruiting classes, Auburn has signed Anthony Gulley, Phillip Lutzenkirchen, Travante Stallworth and Trovon Reed. All of these athletes are capable of playing multiple positions. Also signed was JUCO quarterback Cameron Newton, who brings a running ability to the quarterback position.
Anthony Gulley is currently working at cornerback due to lack of depth in the defensive secondary, but has shown that he can be an asset on the offensive side of the ball. Though he was classified as a receiver last year, he did most of his damage on the ground, rushing for 77 yards and two touchdowns on only five carries.
Phillip Lutzenkirchen saw limited action last year at the tight end position, but managed to catch five passes, including two touchdowns, for 66 yards. Lutz is very athletic for a tight end and also practiced at the H-Back position in Outback Bowl practice last year.
Though Travante Stallworth only caught two passes and carried the ball only four times last year he showed explosiveness that excited Auburn fans. Another thing Stallworth has going for him is that he played quarterback in high school, so he can throw the ball if needed.
Another quarterback-turned-receiver is freshman Trovon Reed. Rivals.com ranked Reed as the number four athlete and number 46 overall player in the 2010 recruiting class. He is very versatile, and adds another dynamic player to this receiving corps.
Cameron Newton is, without a doubt, the most hyped incoming player for Auburn this season. The former Florida Gator started at quarterback for Blinn College last year and led them to a junior college national championship. He was named the starter for Auburn at the end of spring practice. His mobility should allow for the read option play and the wildcat formation to be used more often in the offense.
The wild card this year will be Mario Fannin. Fannin was moved from slot receiver to running back this spring, and can also throw the football. He has always shown potential to be dynamic, and this year, the starting running back role has given him the opportunity.
While there are many question marks for the Auburn offense this year, including inexperience and QB play, the groundwork has been laid for Gus Malzahn and his Auburn offense to become elite. With good coaching and a hard work ethic, this offense could be special.
Now it's time to go to work.
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