An effective game plan is the second vital key to a team’s success behind the players that are used as a planning base. At Auburn the schematics for the offensive unit’s success are philosophy, tempo, and the utilization of key players. It is a style that when run properly creates tired opponents and confuses linebackers and defensive backs.
Current offensive mastermind, Guz Malzhan, is a creative innovator who perfected his system as a high school football coach in Arkansas winning five state championships.
His hiring as O.C. at the University of Arkansas at the time was considered a risky move with no college coaching experience as well as unprecedented. During his one-year stint in Fayetteville, he put his “wildcat” offense on national display. His offensive play-calling correlated to the team's strengths (i.e. Felix Jones and Darren McFadden). In his only season he took the Razorbacks to the SEC Championship game and a 10-4 record.
Following the team's four-game losing streak to end the season, he was fired by Houston Nutt for “philosophical” differences and took his “no-huddle attack” to the University of Tulsa as the offensive coordinator.
At Tulsa he put up astronomical numbers leading the NCAA in total offense in 2007 and 2008. As the Auburn Tigers were reeling and hired the unproven Gene Chizik as their head coach, offense had to be key.
Auburn’s offense had struggled over the 2007 and 2008 seasons with coach Tommy Tuberville’s coaching mentality. The Auburn offense never went for the kill, adopting a mentality that read, “Play not to lose, instead of playing to win!”
Gus Malzhan was hired by Gene Chizik on December 28th, 2008 with a lot of the Tiger faithful screaming that a passing offense is not Auburn football. Undoubtedly that remains true but a Malzhan-led offense is, without question, Auburn football.
The time between snaps for the offense is key to a successful and seamless flow, resulting in points. A simple task like a players handing the ball to the referee immediately gives the offense an advantage of plus-10 snaps per game over their opponent.
Expediting the play from the sideline when chunks of yardage are coming nearly every down creates a predatory mindset as a result of tempo. Sniffing out tired players is fuel for the attacker, a mental edge so to speak. Quick touchdowns and big gains result in hands on hips, the inability to substitute properly, miscommunication, and finger-pointing on the opposing side.
Utilization of Personnel
This is what makes Coach Malzhan such an amazing offensive coordinator. The ability to take his offensive philosophy and mold it to his personnel’s strengths is something that the majority of “trend” coaches can’t do.
Time and time again we see new staffs with new styles unable to implement them immediately. They are unable to execute "their" offense, blaming the lack of personnel and past recruiting (see Notre Dame and Michigan).
Gus Malzhan is a mastermind at utilizing his players' strengths and incorporating them into his offensive game plan and producing results.
If Auburn can win eight games with Chris Todd as the starting quarterback, can you imagine what the Tigers are capable with Cam Newton at the helm? It makes for a promising season and especially a bright future for Gus Malzhan.