Auburn Football 2012: A Real Passing Threat Returns to the Plains

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Auburn Football 2012: A Real Passing Threat Returns to the Plains
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

New Auburn offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler is installing a new offense for the 2012 season. He has specified on occasion that this new offense will be multiple. It appears multiple means a version of the Spread West Coast Offense as the primary scheme.

One of the basics of any West Coast Offense is to utilize the short passing game to set up the run. The first question that must be asked: Does this scheme match the offensive talent at Auburn?

Auburn is very deep at the receiver position. There are over a dozen receivers on the roster that have the potential to break out this season. Some of these receivers have the physical build and skills to be particularly lethal in Loeffler’s scheme.

All fans and pundits know about Emory Blake—the 6’2”, 197 pound senior that stepped in to become the primary receiver in 2011. Blake will only get better in 2012 before taking his skills to the NFL for a promising career.

What has appeared to escape notice of pundits across the nation is the depth behind Blake in his primary receiver role.

  • Sammie Coates 6’2”, 203 pounds
  • DeAngelo Benton 6’2”, 208 pounds
  • Jaylon Denson 6’3”, 208 pounds
  • Ricardo Louis 6’2”, 210 pounds
  • Trovon Reed 6’0”, 186 pounds

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Auburn has added a new dimension in the receiving corps for 2012—receivers who will provide an advantageous physical mismatch for most defensive backs.

  • JaQuay Williams 6’4”, 200 pounds
  • Melvin Ray 6’4”, 205 pounds

 

Speedy and shifty receivers abound to allow Auburn to use four and five wide sets if needed.

  • Travante Stallworth 5’9”, 188 pounds
  • Anthony Gulley Morgan 5’11”, 201 pounds
  • Quan Bray 5’10”, 184 pounds
  • Demitri Reese 5’11”, 173 pounds

 

There is no shortage of big, physical tight ends to allow for the utilization of two and three tight end sets.

  • Philip Lutzenkirchen 6’5”, 256 pounds
  • Brandon Fulse 6’4”, 250 pounds
  • CJ Uzomah 6’4”, 246 pounds
  • Ricky Parks 6’4”, 235 pounds
  • Darrion Hutcherson, 6'7", 245 pounds

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Many point at the failure of the passing offense in 2011 as evidence that Auburn lacked receiving talent. Nothing could have been more misleading.

In the Gus Malzahn offense, there were basically two varieties of passing plays. The first was the long pass downfield; the second was the short pass around the line of scrimmage. The long pass plays usually took time to develop and required the quarterback to act without hesitation.

For the majority of the 2011 season, Auburn did not have a quarterback that would act without hesitation. This resulted in a nightmarish scenario that usually ended in the play being ineffective. Scot Loeffler’s system has a multitude of short, medium and long pass plays that develop quickly.

The quarterback usually has multiple targets to pick from. These targets develop at different points as the play matures. There is usually a dump off option should the play not develop as planned.

All of these factors make Loeffler’s approach to the pass much more user friendly for the quarterback. Seldom is the quarterback left without a designated option to read and utilize. Seldom is the receiver locked into a route that cannot be adjusted to the circumstances at hand.

This combination of factors makes the new Auburn offense much more dangerous to shifting zone coverage that has become more popular in the SEC in recent years. This will force opponents’ defensive backs to attempt man coverage against the Auburn receivers much more often.

With the very real running threat of the quarterback and a stable of running backs that each present a home run threat every time they touch the football, this offensive scheme will present quite a challenge to opposing defensive coordinators.

Do not be surprised if Auburn has one of the most effective offenses in the nation for 2012.

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