This week the brilliant minds here at College & Magnolia have expertly explained how Gus Malzahn can fix all the issues with this current team and win out. If you missed any of em check em out:
- Jack Condon offers some helpful “tweaks” to this this struggling offense
- Ryan Sterritt gave some creative suggestions
- Crow did Crow things
My initial response was to build a time machine, go back in time and actually recruit Jonah Williams as he was very high on Auburn but for whatever reasons the Tigers’ never made him a priority. Alas, that doesn’t seem all that useful so I will try and stick to more realistic suggestions below.
Stop Pigeonholing Players
One of the most frustrating developments over the past few seasons under Gus Malzahn has been the over specialization of Auburn’s offensive skill players. It seems when Gus first arrives at a program, he just makes due with what he has, using the same general personnel to run the majority of the playbook. But over time, when he can recruit his own guys, he seems to try and have players master specific concepts within the framework of this offense that should best maximize their skillset.
That sounds good when you read it but in practice it leads to frustrating tendencies. Teams typically know that Anthony Schwartz is only getting the ball on a jet sweep or a quick screen. Teams typically knew last season that when Devan Barrett checked into the backfield he was running a swing route. Teams typically know that if Auburn is going deep, they are going to Darius Slayton.
There’s a speed sweep guy, a deep threat guy, a RB pass blocking guy, a WR run blocking guy, a run blocking tight end guy and a litany of other specific “guys” in this offense. Gus seems to believe that even if the other team has a general idea of what’s coming based off personnel, if his guys execute it won’t matter. Problem is it’s a lot harder to execute when the opponent knows just from formation and personnel what limited playcalls are available.
Stop doing that. Let Schwartz go deep every now and again, not just on wheel routes. Send Seth Williams deep or throw him a tunnel screen. Send Tucker Brown out on real routes not just gimmicks, heck Mississippi State showed no one would cover him. Let Asa Martin do more than just run two basic routes out of the backfield. Malzahn’s offense has been at it’s best in the past when he stuck with the same 11 for a series, kept the pace up and threw everything at a defense with the same personnel. That would be my first fix for this offense.
Feed Your Playmakers
I know there are a lot of egos to feed but at the end of the day it’s about winning. Instead of trying to make everyone happy, play the best guys and get them the ball. When JaTarvious Whitlow, Ryan Davis, Anthony Schwartz and Seth Williams consistently touch the football, good things seem to happen. Figure out a way to get them all 5+ touches a game. But remember point #1 when doing so. Throw Chandler Cox out there with this group in 11 personnel and let’s run everything in the dadgum playbook.
Live To Punt
Damon Duval, John Vaughn, Wes Byrum, Cody Parkey and Daniel Carlson combined to attempt a whopping ONE field goal from 50+ yards in their debut seasons. JUST ONE SINGLE FIELD GOAL BY DANIEL CARLSON. Anders? He’s attempted EIGHT FIELD GOALS FROM 50+ YARDS IN EIGHT GAMES!?!?!?!?!
I get it Gus. You haven’t really had a punter you trust since Steven Clark. Anders has a gigantic leg and must be booming these in practice. But at some point you have to see that it ain’t working and adjust. You have a pretty dang good defense and a solid punter. Pin teams back and give your offense better field position.
Heck, if it’s 4th & 3, maybe even get a bit wild and go for it now and again. But whatever you do, please, please, PLEASE don’t trot Anders out there and ask him to kick 50+ yard field goals. Maybe one day he will make it rain from 50+ yards but it ain’t this year.
FOR ALL THAT IS HOLY STOP GIVING THE OTHER TEAM THE BALL
I think this one is pretty simple. AU is undefeated in games when they win the turnover battle and winless in games they lose it. Looking at you Jarrett.
Also not fumbling at the 1 yard line and not dropping touchdowns would help too...
Stay Aggressive On Defense
My “fixes” for defense is just keep doing what you are doing and don’t let up. This D has not been perfect. Joe Burrow should not have completed that pass. Mississippi State should not have rushed for over 300 yards. Tennessee should not complete literally every single 50/50 jump ball. But even despite those failings they have given this team a chance to win every single game. Auburn will need more from them moving forward and I say stay aggressive this month. Keep blitzing like a wild man Kevin and keep forcing teams to complete those low percentage back shoulder throws 30+ yards down the field. Make opponents earn every single inch.
Oh and maybe score a few times yourself.