Thursday, February 26, 2009

Coachspeak: Malzahn

It was Gus Malzahn's turn in the interview chair yesterday, and not entirely surprisingly, he had some interesting things to offer us us Auburn types craving off-season information and insights into Spread Eagle 2.0. Quotes came via Bitter, Tate, Woodbery (also the photo), and Goldberg.

The JCCW's impressions:

This is going to be Malzahn's offense and no one else's. Yeah, yeah, we heard that last year, but when we're told point-blank that the tackles are going to be in a permanent two-point stance, that they're going to run more than any line in the country, that he's counting plays and that Auburn had better run more than 80 ... it's going to be hard to do those things from the "downhill, two-back" offense Chizik was describing the other day. Also, Malzahn has clearly been studying up on his recent Auburn history (emphasis mine):
"Really, it doesn't take very long at all for players," Malzahn said of his desired pacing. "Once they get the communication down and they get going, it's a short period of time.

"Really the coaching is the difference. Coaches are so creatures of habit and are used to doing certain things a certain way. Once the coaches get to thinking quick and all the things that go into making decisions quicker and the communication, but for players, no, it happens extremely quick" ...

"It starts with all your coaches on the same page," Malzahn said. "When your coaches are on the same page, the players believe it better. I think there's great power in that. I'll tell you right now, our coaches are all on the same page. Coach (Gene) Chizik has done a wonderful job of hiring guys who are not only good coaches, but good people.
Translation: Taylor, Luper, and Grimes aren't going to be taking what I tell them and tossing it out a window, unlike some certain other coaches I could name.

Khrisodi Burn-Stodd has been retired. No Island of Dr. Moreau-like two-headed quarterbeasts this season, thank goodness, unless I'm reading more into "We will have one guy" than I should. And on the quarterbacking note ...

Kodi's going to have to earn it. Equal reps for all at the start of spring practice = truly open QB competition. If anyone's at a disadvantage here, it's Todd, who may not be at full strength for spring (or, we have to assume, ever). I guess you could read into Malzahn admitting he didn't know as much about Trotter as the other contenders as a knock against him, but the fact that Trotter hasn't played and was a three-star guy from Alabama--unlike the Arkansas-bred Burns and the four-star Caudle--just naturally means Malzahn isn't as familiar with him. I think it's genuinely best man wins.

If Rollison really does have a leg up on Moseley, Malzahn's not letting on. Completely grouping the two of them together and citing both of their accomplishments as a unit was a slick rhetorical move.

This made me LOL. From the Tate post, so polite:
On what he ran at Arkansas in 2006: "That was kinda two offenses and two philosophies put together."
And somehow it still worked. Of course, Darren McFadden may have had something to do with that.

We're going to see a ton of the Wildcat. That Malzahn is already comfortable saying that Fannin is in the Wildcatbird seat as far as taking snaps there and that he's got a shortlist of incoming recruits who wants to see there tell me he doesn't view the formation as a gimmick: it's an integral part of the whole thing. (Not that we didn't know that already.)

Not complicated. This quote from Bitter:
"I got different bits and pieces from different people," he said. "Just tried to have very few plays and tried to perfect them. ... For whatever reason people think we have so many different plays, but if you really break us down, we have a few base things and we’re going to try to be the best at those things and then we’ll try to build on those and this gives you the ability to take what they give you."
would definitely seem to support the evaluation Smart Football did of Malzahn's offense, namely that it doesn't really have all that much unique about it from an X's and O's standpoint. It really is all about the pace of play--which helps explain why Malzahn mentioned it so often.

Balance? Malzahn took the opportunity to emphasize that he would be happy to run the ball if the defense gave him the chance. No surprise there--frankly, after the "smashmouth" talk at his opening press conference, I would have expected him to talk more about running the ball and skip over the part where Tulsa threw for 500 yards. I'm not sure if most Auburn folks are ready to throw for 500 yards even if the team's capable of throwing for 500 yards. Hey, speaking of "most Auburn folks" ...

I guess the meerkat routine is dead. "We're not so much a no-huddle, look-to-the-side team," he said. All the old folks in the upper deck when I visited for the LSU game will be so pleased.

It really is all about the pace for him. Read over Bitter's transcript--Malzahn made pace his biggest, "who we are" point-of-emphasis and followed up with this:
"With the old rules, when they put the ball down, we're going to snap it within five seconds of when the referee puts the ball down. Boy, I tell you what, these new rules they put in last year, for us, are really good. We'll be extremely fast. As soon as the ball is handed to the referee, I'd say within 12-15 seconds after the guy's getting up, we'll have the ball snapped."
Gee, you think he's excited about how fast he can make his guys go? I have to worry about the impact this sort of thing might have on Auburn's D, but it's going to be a heck of a ride on offense, folks.


jrsuicide said...

haha. your comment about the Old Folks being pissed off about the Meer-kat is so right on. i went to 2 games last season and i've never heard more uttering of profanities by 70 year old men in bright orange shirts in my entire life. i was cracking up the whole time when i wasn't punching my seat cushion in frustration at another Auburn 3 and out.

Robert said...

Saw Tulsa play a couple of times last year. The sideline is something to behold. They had three sets of guys holding up numbers for substitutions and plays and hand signals. Lots of pressure on the QB to keep up with what's going on. Massive substitutions, even when running the hurry up. They were shuttling guys in and out every couple of plays.

Though they lost the championship game to ECU (seven turnovers will do that to you), they ran the Pirates ragged. Skip Holtz had guys getting "injured" pretty frequently in the second half when Tulsa was trying to come back and running the full no huddle just to slow them down a little. Malzhan is going to be an interesting change for you guys.

(Word verification is "untiver" which should refer to the overtime rule or something.)

Grotus' Acorn said...

I'm interested to see how the QB competition plays out and how protracted it becomes.

Part of me really, really chafes at yet another obstacle thrown in the path of the guy who, I think, could and should be a redshirt sophomore in his second year of starting. But at least the disastrous Burns-Todd Pushmi-Pullyu system is behind us. I can't tell you how happy it makes me that our offensive coordinator is looking for leadership for a change.

Jerry Hinnen said...

Grotus, at this point, if Burns can't beat out

1. Rag-armed, immobile Chris Todd
2. "I lost my backup job to true freshman Barrett Trotter" Neil Caudle
3. redshirt freshman Barrett Trotter

with a QB coach who clearly puts some kind of premium on Burns's kind of athletic agility, it'll be time to let go. I fully expect him to win the job and if he doesn't I'll have to wonder how things might have been different without the carousel of coaches behind him, but I have to think at this point Burns has to sink or swim on his own merits. I don't blame Malzahn at all for throwing the competition as open as it can get.