Auburn Football: Projecting Auburn's 2013 Offensive Depth Chart
The 2013 Auburn offense will look much different from the one we saw in 2012.
And that is a good thing.
The 2012 version ended the season ranked No. 115 nationally in total offense. Under former offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler, the Tigers managed to only pick up an average of 5.27 yards per play. Compare that to Georgia, which led the nation in yards per play at 7.09.
New head coach Gus Malzahn and offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee are bringing back the style of offense that led Auburn to a BCS National Championship in 2010. Malzahn is a pioneer in the hurry-up, no-huddle style of football that has permeated the high school and college gridirons throughout America.
Although the style of offense that Auburn will run in 2013 will have the same core philosophy as the offenses from 2009-2011 did, there are many people who feel that Malzahn never ran a true version of his offense during his time as offensive coordinator.
That’s a scary thought when you think about the amount of school and conference records the 2009 and 2010 offenses broke.
One major reason that Malzahn was hired at Auburn in December was the fact that so many of the current offensive players on the roster were recruited by and for Malzahn.
Last year was like trying to stick a square peg into a round hole. None of the players looked comfortable in the pro-style system employed by Loeffler.
With plenty of high-profile offensive players committed to Auburn and the loss of only four offensive starters, the Tigers will look to have a high-octane offense once again.
Malzahn's offense does not employ a true TE or FB as Loeffler's did. Instead, it has an H-Back along with a RB and three WRs.
With spring practice just a few months away, let’s take our first stab at projecting the 2013 offensive depth chart for Auburn.
Starter: Jonathan Wallace
Backups: Kiehl Frazier—Clint Moseley—Jeremy Johnson
For the sixth consecutive year, Auburn will have an open QB competition in spring practice that will likely spill over into fall.
Last year was a train wreck at the QB position. The Tigers could never establish a vertical passing game. Frazier began the year as a starter and never looked comfortable in Loeffler’s offense. He was pulled at halftime of the Arkansas game for Moseley.
Moseley started a few games and, like Frazier, also struggled.
After the frustrating seasons of Frazier and Moseley in 2012, Wallace started the final four games at QB for the Tigers. While he wasn’t stellar, especially in SEC games against Georgia and Alabama, he was the Tigers’ best option at QB.
Look for Frazier (who Malzahn recruited in the eighth grade) to be much more comfortable in Malzahn’s offense in 2013. Frazier should make a strong push to be the starter on August 31 against Washington State.
But Wallace, whose work ethic has been touted numerous times, should earn the job early in fall camp.
Moseley and true freshman Jeremy Johnson will round out the depth chart at the position. It would be interesting to see what the QB competition would be like if Johnson, who is a 4-star recruit, could participate in spring practice.
Starter: Cameron Artis-Payne
Backups: Tre Mason—Mike Blakely—Corey Grant
Malzahn’s offense has produced nine 1,000-yard rushers in his seven seasons at the collegiate level. That includes former Auburn RBs Ben Tate in 2009 and Michael Dyer in 2010 and 2011.
The first signee of the Malzahn era at Auburn was the top JUCO RB in the country in Cameron Artis-Payne. He should be a perfect fit and will serve as more of a between-the-tackles runner, along the same lines as Tate and Dyer did in Malzahn’s offense.
Look for Tre Mason—the Tigers’ featured back in 2012, who rushed for 1,002 yards—to be used more as an outside runner, much like Onterio McCalebb was used. Even though he will technically be a backup, Mason will be depended on heavily and get a starter-like amount of carries.
If needed, Mason proved in 2012 that he can have success as a between-the-tackles runner, but should not be used to do so 15 to 20 times per game.
Blakeley showed flashes of being a very promising RB for Auburn in 2012. He was the Tigers’ leading rusher in Week 2 against Mississippi State. Ball-handling issues led to him not seeing the field very much after a critical fumble in Week 3 against Louisiana-Monroe.
Starter: C.J. Uzomah
Backups: Brandon Fulse—Jay Prosch—Ricky Parks
TE Philip Lutzenkirchen thrived as an H-Back in Gus Malzahn's offense in 2010 and 2011, particularly in red zone situations.
With Lutzenkirchen taking his talents to the NFL, look for C.J. Uzomah to try and follow in his footsteps.
Before the Vanderbilt game, it was announced that Lutzenkirchen would have season-ending surgery. Uzomah responded by having two receptions for 23 yards in the game. For the season, Uzomah finished the season with seven receptions for 136 yards and a TD.
Brandon Fulse will also get a chance to prove himself at the H-back position.
It will be interesting to see how Lashlee and Malzahn decide to use Jay Prosch, who was an All-American FB at Illinois before transferring to Auburn. Prosch proved in 2012 that he can be more than just a blocker. He had 12 rushing attempts on the year and he also caught the ball out of the backfield five times.
Starter: Sammie Coates
Backup: Jaylon Densen—Jason Smith
Auburn could not establish a vertical passing game in 2012. Much of the reason for that is no one stepping up to complement Emory Blake.
Now that Blake is gone and Auburn has a WR coach, the Tigers will need Sammie Coates, their talented sophomore, to step up and fill the role of Blake. Coates showed flashes of playing up to his talent level in 2012, but mainly played inconsistently. He finished the season with six receptions for 114 yards and two touchdowns.
Behind him, Jaylon Densen will be in the rotation and look for AU commit Jason Smith to see the field if he can have a solid performance in fall camp.
Starter: Ricardo Louis
Backups: Melvin Ray—Earnest Robinson
Opposite Coates, look for another 6'2'' 200-plus pound WR in sophomore Ricardo Louis. Like Coates, Louis has great size and meets all the physical requirements needed for a top-notch SEC WR.
Louis had three receptions in 2012.
Behind him, former Alabama signee and former professional baseball player Melvin Ray will look to crack the Auburn depth chart. He joined Auburn last fall and by all accounts has the athletic ability to be a fantastic college football player. He stands 6'3'' and weights 217 pounds.
4-star commitment Earnest Robinson should also make the playing rotation among the WRs. Robinson stands 6'3" and has a 30-inch vertical leap.
Starter: Quan Bray
Backups: Trovon Reed—Jason Smith
In the slot, Quan Bray and Trovon Reed will see ample time in the playing rotation. Both will be juniors next year and are extremely talented, but that talent has not translated to the field as hoped during their first two years.
Reed has 30 catches in his two-year career for 286 yards and one TD. Bray also has 30 catches that have gone for 187 total yards in two years.
Smith, who was mentioned at the other WR spot, could also see some time in the slot.
Starter: Avery Young
Backup: Jordan Diamond
Avery Young started two of the first three games for Auburn at RT in 2012. Expect him to move over and take over the LT position in 2013.
Young surprised many when he signed with Auburn in 2012 out of Palm Beach Gardens High School in Florida. He was the ninth-ranked offensive tackle prospect in the country, according to Rivals.com.
Behind him will be sophomore Jordan Diamond (6'6", 323 lbs.). I expect Diamond to make a big push for playing time on the O-line in spring and fall camp.
Starter: Greg Robinson
Backup: Devonte Danzey
The offensive guard position was a serious concern after last year's LG, John Sullen, graduated and backup Christian Westerman transferred to Arizona State following the season.
The position was shored up a little when top JUCO OL Devonte Danzey announced on Christmas Day that he will be playing for Auburn next fall. He played last season at Hutchison Community College in Kansas (where former Auburn QB Chris Todd played).
I project Greg Robinson, who started at LT for much of 2012, to move over and play LG in 2013. Robinson stands at 6'5" and 311 pounds.
Look for Robinson and Danzey to battle it out in spring and fall practice for the starting position at left guard.
Starter: Reese Dismukes
Backup: Tunde Fariyike
For the third straight year, Reese Dismukes will anchor the Auburn offensive line at the center position. As a freshman in 2011, Dismukes earned freshman All-American honors.
Dismukes had a little bit of a falloff in 2012 along with the rest of the offense. When Dismukes served a one-game suspension for a preseason public intoxication arrest, Tunde Fariyike filled in admirably against Clemson.
Fariyike will be one play away from going in once again this year.
Starter: Chad Slade
Backup: Alex Kozan
Chad Slade has been moved around the Auburn offensive line a lot in his career. He has performed admirably at right guard, left guard and right tackle.
Look for the 6'5", 301-pounder to start 2013 as Auburn's starting right guard. Slade is very experienced. He started 10 games and played in all 13 in 2011. This past season, he started 11 games at RG and one game (Alabama A&M) at LT.
Look for Alex Kozan to fight for playing time behind Slade. Kozan was a late signee in the 2012 recruiting class from Colorado. He did not see the field in 2012.
Starter: Patrick Miller
Backup: Shon Coleman
Patrick Miller took over for Avery Young at RT against LSU and started the remaining nine games for the Tigers. He had his highs and lows during SEC play while going up against the elite DEs of the conference.
He held his own for most of the game against LSU. But he struggled against speed-rushers, who beat him to the outside. The 6'6", 273-pound Miller will be a sophomore in 2013.
Behind him is Shon Coleman. Most people know the story of Coleman. He was a part of the 2010 recruiting class but ran out onto Pat Dye Field at Jordan-Hare Stadium for the first time in an Auburn jersey in 2012.
Coleman was 5-star recruit out of Olive Branch, MS. He was diagnosed with leukemia and has fought the disease and beat it to a pulp. It would surprise no one to see Coleman regain his 5-star form and battle for a starting position on the OL in 2013.