Many an Auburn fan has contemplated the end results of two newly acquired coordinators for 2012. One of the most popular themes is which change will carry the most impact. The most popular prognostication has been on the side of Coach VanGorder’s defense.
While this is the most popular position, it is also very debatable.
Gus Malzahn had a great offense at Auburn in 2010, but that was not the case in 2011. For a variety of reasons, he became one of the most predictable play callers in the SEC. As a result, there is a very high ceiling for improvement on offense and defense for 2012.
Currently it does not appear Auburn will have much, if any, problems converting to the new philosophy and scheme. In fact, it appears the new philosophy and scheme have actually made learning and teaching a much less complicated process as illustrated by quotes from defensive line coach Mike Pelton.
Brian VanGorder is widely known for his aggressive, attacking defensive style. It is a system based upon flawless fundamentals and constant disruptive pressure. It is not an overly complicated scheme and is much more easily executed with precision than what Auburn was attempting under Ted Roof.
The closest comparison of this scheme in the SEC is the defensive scheme at LSU under John Chavez. It is a scheme that works as proved by the Broyles National Assistant Coach of the Year honors that both Chavez and Van Gorder have accumulated in their careers.
The principles of the new Auburn defensive philosophy are very simple. The first goal is to apply instant pressure on the quarterback and disrupt play in the backfield. This goal is to be achieved by being physical and winning the battle in the trenches.
Auburn will attempt to do this with one of the deepest defensive line rotations Coach VanGorder has ever had at his disposal at any level. The goal will be to physically attack the line of scrimmage using a deep rotation to wear opposition offenses down and eventually physically dominate them to the point of quitting.
The best way to beat a VanGorder defense is to simply dominate them along the line. If an offense can accomplish dominance along the line of scrimmage, then they have a good chance of consistently moving the ball against a VanGorder defensive scheme.
To analyze how effective Auburn’s defense will be in the SEC this season, a simple evaluation of opposition offensive lines will go a long ways.
The new Auburn offensive scheme can best be described as a variation of the Spread Multiple West Coast Offense. It is a less complicated offense to absorb mentally with a big emphasis on proficient execution. Scot Loeffler has been on the cutting edge development of this type of offense for years.
The learning curve for this offensive system is usually much quicker for offensive linemen in particular. The receivers bear the brunt of the learning curve when this system is initially put into place. It is an almost infinitely adaptable offensive scheme.
The new Auburn offense does not require offensive linemen to be dominant physically. It does require them to be physical and execute at a high level of proficiency. It is one of the most innovative and successful offensive schemes in the NFL today.
Auburn will supplement this scheme with a variation of the Split Backs Offense that some will remember as a form of the Veer Offense from the days Bo Jackson owned the gridiron on the plains. This is about as old school, smash mouth of an offense as it can get. It can be run out of the shotgun, pistol or under center positions for the quarterback.
This combination brings a variety of options to the field that makes play calling options almost infinite. An exceptional play caller can easily attack any defense with these options and keep that defense on its heels most of the time.
With the multitude of offensive aggression that is available from these schemes, any form of defense can be successfully attacked. This multiplicity gives the offensive play caller the immediate advantage over any singular defensive scheme.
Taking all of this into consideration, it appears Auburn will stick to the time-tested SEC formula of stopping the run and running the football.
Great passing teams will likely have some success against the new defensive scheme if they can thwart the rush long enough to execute. The Auburn offense will face multiple eight and nine man fronts from teams that focus on stopping the Auburn rushing game.
The formula for success in 2012 will likely come down to how well the defense controls the short passing game and how well the offense is able to execute the short passing game. Auburn should have a premier rush defense and one of the most powerful rushing offenses in the nation for 2012.