Auburn Football: Who Will Be the X-Factor on the Tigers' 2013 Offense?
Auburn closed out the 2012 season as the worst offense in the SEC (CFB Stats) after a return to the pro-style offense ended with disaster for the Tigers. Gene Chizik is now gone and Gus Malzahn is ready to implement the offense that took Auburn to the national title game in 2010.
The players on roster are well known to Malzahn and his staff as he recruited most of them, and entering the year Quan Bray will be the elite playmaker that will make this offense explode back onto the national stage.
The Tigers have turned to Onterio McCalebb over the past three years to provide a versatile mix of pass-catching and rushing abilities in the offense. Bray will become that new playmaker for Auburn.
He has taken snaps in the past as a Wildcat, at running back and most often in the slot position.
Bray also serves the team in punt and kickoff returns.
Coming into Auburn, Bray was rated as a consensus 4-star (via 247Sports Composite) and was considered to be among the best athletes in the country. Since arriving at Auburn his contributions have been limited, but that has more to do with the lack of him having opportunities more than a lack of production.
His freshman season was limited with injuries and lack of experience, but he managed 17 catches for 93 yards, 10 rushing attempts for 29 yards and 23 punt and kick returns.
He returned in 2012 and managed 14 catches for 94 yards, and 22 total kick and punt returns. He was limited in the Scott Loefller offense as an outside receiver, and missed the Arkansas game because of suspension (via al.com).
There were a lot of missed opportunities in the passing game, and Bray was limited in the ground game by design. There was never a plan to utilize his skills that clearly mimic McCalebb’s.
Is Quan Bray the next McCalebb-type playmaker for the Tigers?
During his four-year career with the Tigers McCalebb managed 406 carries for 2,586 yards, 24 touchdowns, 63 receptions for 620 yards and three touchdowns, and 53 kick returns for 1,360 yards and two touchdowns.
Most of his production value came in his final two seasons. Bray is entering his junior year and will be a crucial element in the rise of the Malzahn offense.
Finding playmakers that can step in and fill gaps like the one left behind by McCalebb isn’t easy, but when you have a player like Bray it can be a smooth transition.
By the end of 2013, Bray will be recognized as one of the best athletes in the SEC as he helps Auburn climb out of the 3-9 pit it fell into last year.
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