Auburn Football: Gus Malzahn's Offense Will Keep Tigers Competitive in SEC

Matt FitzgeraldCorrespondent IIIDecember 22, 2012

EUGENE, OR - SEPTEMBER 1: Head coach Gus Malzahn of the Arkansas State Red Wolves calls a play against the Oregon Ducks on September 1, 2012 at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Oregon.  (Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer/Getty Images)
Craig Mitchelldyer/Getty Images

Gus Malzahn's offensive genius is arriving at Auburn to rescue the fallen Tigers just in time.

Less than two calendar years removed from a national championship team that featured the newly-hired head coach calling the plays, the storied SEC program will benefit significantly from having Malzahn in the fold to return the team to national prominence.

Prior to departing for one season at Arkansas State, Malzahn was the one who recruited talented dual-threat quarterback Kiehl Frazier to run his up-tempo, no-huddle offense. Once Malzahn left, the Tigers diverted to a pro-style scheme and Frazier struggled mightily, ultimately losing his job and getting injured in the process.

Frazier's Auburn career has gotten off to a rocky start to say the least, as he's thrown two touchdowns and 10 interceptions in his short career that hasn't even consisted of a full season as the man under center.

With Clint Moseley and Jonathan Wallace sure to push Frazier for the starting job, it's difficult to tell if the to-be junior will be able to reach his potential.

But as Charles Howard of reports, Frazier does have an advantage, as Malzahn articulates:

Kiehl is very familiar with what we're doing...We recruited him specifically for this system. Last year he went into a pro-style system, and for quarterbacks, they've got a comfort zone. I really feel he'll be more comfortable in this offense.

It's logical that Malzahn wouldn't play any favorites so early on in his tenure as far as which QB has the upper leg in the pending spring competition. But he did acknowledge that Frazier was an ideal fit for his system. After all, the coach recruited him to come to Auburn in the first place.

Spreading out the defense and allowing Frazier to use his legs may be just what the Tigers need to have an immediate turnaround in 2013.

With such formidable defenses in the conference as Alabama, LSU and Florida, most notably, Auburn must find a way to manufacture more points, which is precisely what Malzahn's scheme potentially fosters.

At 6'2" and 226 pounds with a strong arm and 4.5 speed, it's easy to see how much upside Frazier has. Malzahn also has the track record of success at Auburn with Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton.

While no one is making those comparisons between Frazier and Newton at all to date, there is a similar skill set, as well as similar concerns about shortcomings—mainly concerning the not-quite-as-freakish-of-an-athlete Frazier. The similarities are there, though.

Despite his nightmare start with the Tigers, Frazier has to be considered the man to win the quarterback job.

Improving accuracy is a must, but the widened throwing lanes should make life easier for Frazier to complete passes on a more consistent basis. The liberty to run more instead of operating exclusively out of the pocket should also allow Frazier to be more in his comfort zone.

Now, this could all collapse on itself if Frazier continues to struggle and ultimately never comes close to capitalizing on his immense talents.

But after a 3-9 year and the pressure and competitiveness to win now in the Southeastern Conference, it will be up to Malzahn to get this Tigers team headed in the right direction in a hurry.

With his hand-picked quarterback in the fold to lead Auburn back to college football's promised land and a respectable defense that is adding 5-star recruit DT Carl Lawson to pair with newly-hired recruiting coordinator and defensive line coach Rodney Garner, Malzahn will get it done.