To the surprise of many, Gene Chizik and Scot Loeffler took the keys to the Auburn offense away from Kiehl Frazier at the beginning of the second half against Arkansas. They put them in the hands of Clint Moseley, who was the Auburn QB for the second half of the 2011 season.
But let’s be honest, the keys to the Auburn offense these days can be equated to the keys of a rusty, old 1970 AMC Gremlin.
Whether the QB’s name on the back of his jersey is Frazier, Moseley, Wallace or (dare I say it) Newton, this offense is not going to produce any offensive output different than what it has so far this season with Loeffler driving the bus on offense.
Auburn is currently ranked 92nd or below in every major offensive category.
In 2008, under Tony Franklin (whose firing occurred four years ago on Monday), the Auburn offense after Week 6 was doing better then than it is now.
Could Loeffler suffer the same fate that Franklin did? Yes, and he should. Maybe not a midseason firing, but if Auburn wants to take steps forward as a program, Loeffler should not return as offensive coordinator in 2013.
Loeffler was doomed from the start. There were at least two others (and maybe more) that Chizik had targeted to become Auburn’s next offensive coordinator.
Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter were among the rumored names that Loeffler “beat out” for the Auburn offensive coordinator job.
It took 40 days (December 13 to January 22) for Chizik to hire a replacement for Gus Malzahn, who left for Arkansas State. If it takes that long to hire an offensive coordinator, he better have stronger credentials as an offensive coordinator than being in the position for one year at Temple.
Auburn is not a place that coordinators have used as a spot to get their feet wet, historically. It shouldn't be, either. Most coordinators have used Auburn as a stepping stone to becoming a head coach at their next place of employment.
One of Loeffler’s abilities that Chizik touted after his hire was his ability to adapt to the type of players he has on the field.
That would be an important trait since the Tigers are transitioning from Malzahn’s up-tempo, no-huddle system. The current players on the team have been recruited to that system and style of play for the last three years.
“We are going to build a system to get our playmakers the football and do everything in our power to make sure we are helping our defense and special teams," Loeffler said after being hired in January. (via Phillip Marshall, AuburnUndercover.com)
That hasn’t happened. Instead of putting offensive players in their comfort zone when it comes to running his offense, Loeffler stays in his comfort zone and does not call plays that allow Auburn's playmakers to be successful.
Speaking of playmakers, after Tre Mason rushed for 106 yards in the season opener against Clemson, he only received eight carries the following week against Mississippi State. The one game that Auburn won, against Louisiana-Monroe, Mason was handed the ball 22 times. Since then, he has only 15 carries in the past two games.
Also, The Tigers have an All-American fullback that has inexplicably seen the field less and less each week. With a struggling offensive line and a young quarterback, simple logic would say that Auburn needs to run the ball behind Jay Prosch.
Auburn fans should have expected some struggles when transitioning to the pro-style offense that Loeffler has attempted to employ.
Regardless of the transition, there is no excuse for a team that has the amount of talent that Auburn does on the offensive side of the ball to be ranked so low in every offensive category.
Loeffler's struggles has been due in large part to play calling. Time after time, the Tigers are faced with 2nd-and-long and 3rd-and-long situations.
Against Arkansas, the Auburn offense faced a 2nd-and-8 yards or more to go a total of 12 times. Of those 12 times, nine attempts were 2nd-and-10 yards or more to go.
As for third down, Auburn faced 3rd-and-7 yards to go or greater nine times. For comparison's sake, Arkansas faced a 3rd-and-7 or greater yards to go situation only four times on Saturday.
Equally as bad has been Auburn's play in the red zone this year, as Bleacher Report's Barrett Sallee pointed out.
Auburn has only been inside the red zone 10 times. Its closest SEC competitors are Kentucky and Florida (16). Wow.— Barrett Sallee (@BarrettSallee) October 9, 2012
Granted, these awful statistics can be blamed on the players lack of execution as well. Ultimately, it's Loeffler's job to make sure these players execute.
Loeffler has also been guilty of getting away from the running game. A young, inexperienced quarterback must have a running game that he can rely on to be successful. Against Arkansas, Auburn had only 24 rushing attempts (32 if you count eight sacks). Auburn attempted to throw the ball 43 times (including the eight sacks).
That run-pass ratio is not indicative of what he was hired to do as offensive coordinator at Auburn.
If Auburn was showing signs of improvement on the offensive side of the ball, it’s safe to say that Auburn fans would not be as vile as they are about Loeffler's offense. This unit's best game came against Clemson and it has gone downhill from there.
Chizik can answer your question about this offense's progression.
Gene Chizik: "You can start with turnovers and sacks. Don't have to go any further than that. The offense has regressed."
— Aaron Brenner (@wareagleextra) October 6, 2012
Those last four words are not a resounding vote of confidence in an offensive coordinator. Couple that with Chizik's decision to begin meddling in the offense, and it's easy to believe that Scot Loeffler, and not Kiehl Frazier, will be the one that is benched (read: relieved of his duties) at the end of the year or sooner.