Auburn Football 2012: Do the New Coordinators at Auburn Fit Together?

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Auburn Football 2012: Do the New Coordinators at Auburn Fit Together?
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Brian VanGorder was the defensive coordinator at Georgia from 2001 to 2004 the most successful portion of current head coach Mark Richt’s time there. It was also a time when one Nick Saban was the head coach of the LSU Tigers (2000-04). Tommy Tuberville was the head coach at Auburn and Gene Chizik was the defensive coordinator (2002-04).

Nick Saban’s 2003 BCS champion Tigers managed only 17 points against VanGorder’s Georgia defense during the regular season, but put up an astounding 34 points against that same defense in the SEC Championship Game that year. Mark Richt’s offense scored only 10 and 13 points in those games.

In 2004, Nick Saban’s Tigers only managed 16 points while being stomped 45-16 in a game where Georgia called off the Dawgs early.

Georgia split the four games with Tuberville’s Auburn Tigers during that period. Mark Richt’s Georgia offense scored 17, 24, 26 and six points in those meetings against Gene Chizik’s Auburn defense.

Auburn managed 21, 24, seven and 24 points against VanGorder’s Georgia defense. It was a time when Auburn had both Bobby Patrino and Al Borges as offensive coordinators.

Georgia was 42-10 during those years, a run that still gives Georgia fans hope to this day. Georgia won the Eastern Division in 2002 and 2003 and the conference championship in 2002.

Georgia won another SEC Championship in 2005, but the tough defense had fallen out of the top 10 to a ranking of 18 that season. It was their offense ranked second in the conference that contributed the most toward that season.

To date, those are the only two conference championships for Mark Richt’s Georgia Bulldogs. Georgia is 64-28 in the years since VanGorder’s departure for the NFL. VanGorder’s success only expanded in his years after Georgia.

VanGorder is known for a very aggressive bend-don’t-break defense. His teams are known for taking away an offenses most effective element and challenging them to move the ball by other means. When a team gets into third-down situations VanGorder is known to be very aggressive creating disruption in the backfield.

This approach has been effective in the SEC and NFL after several years of being tested by the best offenses in college and professional football. The 34 points scored by Nick Saban’s BCS champion LSU Tigers is the only SEC game where a VanGorder defense allowed more than 30 points. Auburn allowed more than 30 points seven times in 2011.

VanGorder runs the same basic scheme as that which Auburn has operated and recruited for in the past.

The roster at Auburn is loaded with talent that was selected to fit his exact scheme. Auburn fans should see an immediate improvement in the defense that should continue to improve throughout the 2012 season. The adjustment to VanGorder’s scheme and approach began prior to the Chick-fil-A Bowl in 2011.

One can assume that the Auburn offense that scored 25 points per game in 2011 should win if they are able to score 30 points in 2012. Auburn scored more than 30 points six times in 2011.

Scot Loeffler is fairly new to offensive coordinating. He takes over an Auburn offense that is absolutely loaded with talent at every position. His Temple offense scored more than 30 points seven times in 2011 and averaged 30 points per game scoring.

One interesting factor is that Loeffler’s offense ranked 11 nationally in time of possession and was considered very complimentary to the Temple defense. They were also very good at red zone offense and third-down conversions.

It appears the days of the hurry-up, no-huddle offense are over at Auburn. This was a Gus Malzahn strategy and it appears it will leave with him. What fans can assume is that some of the offensive plays Auburn ran under Gus Malzahn will likely still be staples of the Auburn offense.

It is very likely Loeffler will come in and build on the offensive plays that are already in place. He will likely call these plays in different situations and will add others to the playbook, but it is likely the existing playbook will play a role in the new offense at Auburn.

Loeffler has worked in a Pro Spread, Pro Set, Spread Option and multiple offenses during his career. Fans can expect his offense at Auburn to utilize a multiple approach and utilize a huddle. He will likely press the tempo if it appears to be an advantage, but will slow it down at times as well.

Loeffler’s offense attempted 198 pass plays in 2011 and 636 rushing attempts. While this looks out of balance, it wasn’t. Much like Malzahn, Loeffler utilized the outside rushing threat to setup the inside rushing attempts. This was necessary as he did not have a lot of experience or talent at quarterback or receiver.

Auburn fans can expect a more balanced offense next season, but teams will have to commit to stop the run before Loeffler will call other plays. Auburn will be a run-first offense.

While Temple did not pass the ball that much, they scored 11 times of the 198 attempts. Many of these were big plays. Loeffler’s quarterbacks were not overly prone to mistakes.

One very clear point is that Loeffler was able to adapt his offense to utilize the talent available at Temple to its maximum effect.

It appears that Loeffler and VanGorder will be very complimentary in their respective schemes. One can assume that neither the defense nor offense will be the showcase, but it will be a total team effort and approach.

It will be fun to see how these two new coordinators approach the 2012 season after inheriting one of the most talented rosters in college football.

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