Auburn 2010


  • Gene Chizik was not the popular choice to replace Tommy Tuberville as head coach at Auburn. After all, he had only won 5 games in his two years coaching Iowa State. To some people he proved himself worthy by going 8-5 in his first season last year. However, that record is consistent with recent times.  While Tuberville had a very poor final year at Auburn (5-7), but 8-5 was his WORST record during the five years preceding that. He won 50 games and lost just 14.
  • Chizik is a defensive guy, but he didn’t focus on defense in his first year as head coach at Auburn. Or at least, I hope he didn’t. The defense slipped significantly, allowing the most yards in years.
  • The part of the team that is working is the one that Chizik is not responsible for: the offense. His offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn has free reign and has instituted a no-huddle, up tempo offense, which he insists is not the SPREAD (note that while I rarely pay attention to the names of the coordinators or the broadcasters for that matter, guys seem to retain that information the way women recognize all 200+ brands of make-up at Sephora). 
  • Malzahn has a creative approach to spread formations and a power run game. He likes to use myriad formations and motions and do it quickly…the scheme is secondary. What you really need to know is that they move the ball the way most teams do with the same sort of plays, but they just start off in different formations so that it becomes more difficult for defenders to recognize the plays before they completely unfold. And the fact that they go so quickly means that defenses have less time to decipher these “new looks.” In addition, oftentimes in football the way players are taught to recognize what the other side is doing is by watching a particular person. For a defender, the Offensive Guard will generally tell you what the offense is doing by the direction he is moving in. Malzahn uses this against defenders by mixing up those key signals.
  • The Offensive Line for Auburn is in good shape this year and it helps that they’re in the second year of a new blocking scheme. Why does this change the game and how does it affect the players? Simply put, you either 1) have the ball, 2) are looking to get the ball and/or 3) are blocking defenders who are looking for the ball, and the scheme is the strategy of how to do this (the plays are the specific ways they carry out the scheme). One of the most discussed schemes is zone-blocking. The theory behind this is that rather than have a specific defender on the field whom the player is responsible for blocking (as in a man-to-man scheme), he is responsible for a specific area on the field. Now if there is only one man in your area, then you just block him and it resembles Man-To-Man.  There are many different ways of executing that theory, starting with the formation.
  • Here are some basic formations Auburn use that indicate it’s going to be a passing play: 1) Shotgun (the Quarterback stands a few yards back from the center to take the snap), b) Diamonds (four receivers on one side in a diamond formation), c) Stacks (two receivers lined up with one directly in front of the other), d) Bunch (three receivers in a triangle). It’s not an exact science, but if you don’t see the emphasis on Receivers such as those listed herein that signal a passing play, assume it is going to be a running play.

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