By Jay Coulter
The big question among Auburn fans seems to be whether or not Tommy Tuberville is really going to let new offensive coordinator Tony Franklin run a full fledged spread offense.
Tuberville has always been a coach that would rather run first and let the defense control field position and win the game. That’s probably not a 100 percent accurate statement, but it comes pretty close to describing his philosophy.
Admittedly, I’m still having a hard time picturing a Tuberville coached team running a no-huddle, spread offense for the entire game. You have to give Tuberville props for getting out of his comfort zone and rolling the dice to help Auburn get better.
"The biggest difference in his (Franklin’s) philosophy and mine is he’s going to set up the run by passing the ball," said Tuberville during Thursday’s Chick-Fil-A Bowl luncheon in Atlanta.
"We’ve set up the pass by running the ball. I don’t think there’s any doubt it will work. We’re still going to be a physical team.
"We’ll run the ball more than we’re going to throw it. We’re going to have a lot of backs in the game. I think the backs will like it because we’re going to throw the ball to them more. They’re going to have more passing yards."
That should put a lot of minds at rest. Many fans have wondered how the running game fits into this new scheme. You can bet the Auburn backs will be working on their catching skills in the off season.
Tuberville was asked point blank Thursday why he thought the spread offense would work better.
"The problem we were having was people kind of ganged up on us," said Tuberville. "We were having a little bit of a problem recruiting receivers because we didn’t use but two a game, not 6 or 7 or 8 like some of these teams. This will allow us to broaden our recruiting base in terms of personnel.
"It will allow us to spread the field and put pressure on defenses. We didn’t put a lot of pressure on defenses in terms of getting the ball down the field, spreading people out, making people miss in the open field. What we did was line up and run it and run some play-action. That was the extent of what we were able to do."
Franklin’s role the next few weeks will be to get to know his offense and size up his personnel. Don’t look for a lot of changes on offense when Auburn faces Clemson.
"The whole thing with his system is that the terminology is going to be totally different from what we’re doing," said Tuberville. "It’s like learning a different language. You can’t learn a different language in a couple of weeks. It’s just impossible.
"We want to get a head start on spring practice and let him understand what we’re doing and what guys can do and their limitations, strengths, weaknesses."