The Auburn Tigers enter the 2012 season with two new coordinators pacing the sidelines. This is the first major shift in the coaching staff since Gene Chizik’s arrival, and it will bring a very different look to the offense. Despite the formation changes that will come, there will be five go-to plays that fans can expect to see from the new offense led by Scot Loeffler.
Some of the formations that will be used this season will be very similar to those found in the Gus Malzahn offense, but the concepts behind the plays will be different. There will be some staples that will remain, but expect some new plays to land on the play-call sheet as well.
Scot Loeffler has only been an offensive coordinator for one full season—Temple in 2011—but he has been a major part of offensive play calls for Michigan and Florida through the years. A variety of formations are expected this fall.
As the Tigers look to build a more potent offensive attack for the 2012 season, let's take a look at five plays that will keep the Tigers afloat when they are in need of sure yards or big plays.
One of the staple running plays in every offense is the counter run. The running back plants to his right or left, then shifts to the opposing direction in hopes of pulling defenders away from the play.
At Temple, Scot Loeffler rejuvenated a rushing attack that was No. 67 in the country in 2010, and transformed it into the No. 7 rushing attack in the country in 2011. Loeffler used the exact same backs to produce the stellar results.
One of the mainstays in the Temple offense a year ago was the counter run. The counter can be ran from multiple formations, but the Loeffler-led Owls used a single back/two tight end formation to produce quality results with the counter play.
With Auburn heavy at the tight end position this fall, expect the Ace formation with two tight ends to be commonplace. Look for a two-back set to occur often as well, particularly with the eligibility of Jay Prosch coming through earlier this week.
Auburn had a very bad passing attack last season. I’m not kidding—the Tigers came in at No. 105 in the country. That has to change this season if the Tigers expect to contend in the Western Division.
With the Tigers having the tight end becoming a larger focus in this year’s offense, using a bootleg roll-out option pass will be on the board. The Tigers will look for Philip Lutzenkirchen and Onterio McCalebb to slip into the flats and make plays for short gains.
This will be a play that could provide consistency in the offense and a safety valve for the Tigers' youthful quarterback.
Assuming that Kiehl Frazier gets the start, his ability to move the pocket will make this play very effective for the Auburn offense.
The roll-out bootleg will also give Frazier the ability to hit his speedy slot receivers Trovon Reed and Quan Bray. The bootleg will not only create key first downs this season, but also explosive plays that end in points.
The split-veer option is a play that the Tigers were able to run in the past with much success. With the return of throwback formations to the Auburn campus, the Tigers will want to keep defenses honest, and utilize their abundance of talent that resides in the backfield.
What better way to integrate multiple backs than the veer-option? Again, assuming that Frazier earns the nod, this could be a very dangerous option that the Tigers could put on the field. With split backs, and a speed back lined in the slot that moves into motion, the Tigers will have four ball carrier options at the point of attack.
Auburn will not be unstoppable this season on offense, but options like these will make them very tough to defend, as the deception could surpass the days of the Malzahn-led offense.
Auburn could also employ a wildcat type formation that used this basic set to run option plays to multiple backs. With this being Scot Loeffler’s second year as a coordinator, there is sure to be some interesting sets that will leave defenses guessing constantly.
Auburn has always been known for its athletic running backs, but in 2011 the Tigers were very limited with the production that fans have become accustomed to. One of the mainstays that the Tigers always found to produce big plays was the wheel route.
Last season there were a number of pass blocking issues and protections that limited the ability for the premium back to make a route to the outside, but this season the wheel route needs to make a solid comeback.
Don’t misunderstand me, production from Onterio McCalebb was amazing in the passing game last season. He was the Tigers' second leading receiver in 2011—but the wheel route will be a game changer for the Tigers off of the play action.
If the Tigers can find Corey Grant or even true freshman Jovon Robinson on the outside running free on a wheel route, a touchdown is likely to ensue. Look for the Tigers to bring this play-action classic back into the repertoire this fall.
The bread and butter of the Auburn running game in the past three seasons has been the buck sweep. The Tigers have become one of the best in the country at sealing the outside and allowing for the lead back to make it around the end for big yards.
This season will be no different, as the Tigers will need to rely on a big play rushing formation from the shotgun. Scot Loeffler will run multiple formations this season, and the shotgun will provide the opportunity for this running play to show its effectiveness.
The Tigers have been coached for three seasons by Jeff Grimes on how to seal the inside and keep the outside running lane open. With the talent that the Tigers now have up front, expect 2010-like results when this play is ran against every defense on the schedule.