Let me preface this by saying I am not by any means a Xs and Os guru. I've only been able to approach this from a fan's standpoint. What I've seen on the field over the last few seasons - even going back to 2014 - is not what we expected from Gus Malzahn.
Gus Malzahn came to Auburn as a Hurry Up / No Huddle guy. He was all about going fast. The days of going fast are long gone, now. There are still flashes of it, but not much.
In 2012 the offense was reportedly slowed due to Gene Chizik wanting to protect the defense. That was one of the things that led to Malzahn leaving because he wasn't able to run the offense he wanted. Fast forward to 2016 and that's not the case. Gus has been the head man for the last four seasons, and he only has himself to blame.
So why aren't the Tigers going fast? I used to fall back on "he needs to make sure he has all of the players he needs that can stay in the game for every play." I can't do that, now. For one, he has players. He has multiple recruiting classes full of talented players to run HIS system. Even more damning, he was able to go hyper speed with Tulsa long before he got "his players," and you can't tell me Auburn in 2016 doesn't have better athletes than what he had in Tulsa in 2007 and 2008. Not with the recruiting classes Auburn has had.
So what's the issue? I don't know. It can't be wanting to protect the defense. We've seen so far in 2016 that for the first time in Gus Malzahn's history at Auburn he has a good defense to back his offense up. That's a defense he can trust. If Auburn struggles on a drive or two, the defense is there!
It's time to let go, Gus. Get together with Herb Hand and break out the Tulsa playbook. The athletes are there on the field to make it work. Trust them to do it. Where were the passes last weekend? Where were the throws to Darius Slayton that worked so well against Arkansas State? Trust Sean White to throw it. Trust JFIII to run the zone read. If you need/want to substitute a player in, only do it on stoppages of play like penalties. Otherwise, trust the QB you have in the game to run what they're good at, whichever QB it is at the moment.
The best drive the Tigers had last Saturday night - prior to late in the 4th quarter - was when the team mixed up passes and power runs and they did it with pace.
And do it fast. Blow straight through hyper-speed. It's time go to Plaid. It's time to put the foot down. You and your offense are best that way. Are there going to be mistakes and bad plays? Yes, there are. But you have a defense you can trust to get the ball back.
There aren't many teams Auburn will play that have a QB like Trevor Knight and wide receivers like A&M. Not for a while. The teams remaining on the schedule set up well to get your mojo back. Trust the defense to get the job done if your offense gives it back.
The identity is there. We saw it against Arkansas State. Yes, that was a Sun Belt team - and one that isn't looking like the defending conference champion at the moment - but the play calls and the plays were there. Get back to doing that and doing it with true pace. Take advantage of the confusion it causes. Let Pettway and Johnson eat on the run, but not always on first down.
It may be time to let Sean White go Gunslinger and throw a lot more. Tony Stevens and Darius Slayton have shown they can catch reliably. Marcus Davis is normally good for that, too. Ryan Davis has flashes of jitterbug brilliance. Get the other new WRs involved. You began as a passing guru with the HUNH before hitting the college ranks. You have the tools to be the best of both worlds, in a balanced offense, more so than you've ever had before.
I'm sure I probably don't have a clue what I'm talking about, but it just seems to me like the pieces are all there to run the offense that made Gus Malzahn famous. All we're lacking right now is the old Gus Malzahn to make it happen.
Get back to what you do best, Gus. If you're going to go down, then go down as who you really are.
Damn the torpedos. FULL SPEED AHEAD.