Over the last week or so, I've written about many of the things that went wrong with Auburn's 2015 season. Now we're down to the final one.
The disappearance of the Hurry Up aspect of Gus Malzahn's Hurry Up / No Huddle scheme is really the culmination of all the other issues. The Hurry Up was absent for much of the season largely because of all the other struggles with the offense.
The offense needs to gain 5 or more yards before Gus really hits into overdrive. That's particularly true on 1st downs. The problem is that Auburn struggled with explosive plays and often struggled even to gain more than 2-3 yards on first down.
I'm still planning on examining Auburn's play-calling ratio in terms of run/pass on 1st down and how often we were 2nd and 7 or 2nd and 8 through the year. It was a lot, that's for sure.
Gus Malzahn doesn't have a system, he has a style. I've said that for the last two years and I will continue to say it. His style is "Hurry Up / No Huddle." Without that, his offense struggles. We saw it in 2011, we saw it in 2015. In 2014 the offense was never that fast, either, but it was still effective because of the play-calling and the quarterback. If there's one true equalizer to this need for the hurry up, it's a dynamic quarterback.
That's the one reason I think Gus wants to push to go back to a mobile QB. It's getting past a bit of his stubbornness and recognizing that having that threat in your signal caller can disguise and mitigate other issues. He wants to go fast, but it's not always possible. So, if you can't go fast, you better be able to fool them some other way.
Auburn in 2015 didn't have that threat and it definitely didn't have much of a hurry up. The offense looked nothing like it used to because of that. Substitutions were constant for the running backs and wide receivers. That's another area that needs to be focused on. Auburn needs players who are capable of running every single play in the playbook. That way substitutions only come on stoppages in time like penalties or having different personnel on different drives because they score touchdowns so fast.
The quarterbacks struggled, so the yards gained before going fast rarely happened. The running backs dealt with injuries and needs to put better blockers, runners, or pass catchers in. We had great blocking wide receivers and some decent ball catching wide receivers, but not many who could do both.
All of those combined to take the hurry up away from the offense and also to telegraph some of the plays. Gus Malzahn's offense is fairly simple in the grand scheme of things. It needs to be done fast and be able to deceive you by the fact that every player can run every play. Auburn didn't have the ability to do any of that in 2015, and the offense struggled considerably because of it.
2016 will be very interesting for Auburn, because I believe the pieces are coming together that would allow the offense to run full speed even without a mobile quarterback. The hiring of Herb Hand can help with that, too. On the other hand, there is the possibility of a Nick Marshall type QB. One thing I am certain of is that Gus will get the offense back on track. He rarely has a bad offense. I'm sure 2015 will be the exception rather than a new norm.