Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Works, Todd for tat-style

He-said-he-said. Given how much help the man has been in helping us understand what we're going to be seeing from Gus Malzahn's offense, it's only fair I point you towards Chris Brown's new Smart Football site. But new site or no, Chris's most cutting comment about Auburn of late came on his Twitter feed, where he summarized:

(Yes, the "slmandel" in question is that Mandel.) The knee-jerk Auburn fan in me wants to say HEY CHRIS TODD'S ARM IS NOW MADE OF TITANIUM AND SPIDER-SILK FISHING LINE, but we can be honest here: it's terrific news that the quarterback battle is already decided, but that doesn't change the fact our starting quarterback was the least threatening QB in the SEC last year, that rarest of college signal-callers who had neither an arm nor legs. (The most threatening quarterback, of course, was Jarrett Lee. He just happened to be threatening his own team.) Yes, that Auburn's best quarterback is Chris Todd is bad news until Todd proves us wrong.

The nice thing is that there's reasons to believe Todd will do just that, and in the first truly worthwhile post from resurrected al.com Auburn blog Tigers Corner, PPL's Kevin Ives offers a goodly number of them. Some of them we've seen before, but this one I thought was particularly incisive:
3. HE HAS A BETTER OFFENSE TO WORK WITH: Better receivers, more experienced lineman, and an offense that can actually rely on Auburn's strengths (Running Backs) instead of it's weaknesses (receivers). King Gus's offense is all about timing (which he's repeated in numerous interviews. The biggest knock on Chris Todd is arm strength. Not a problem in this Offense. From what I've seen from watching film of Malzhan team's in action, the QB just needs good timing and good decision making (both of which Todd has). He doesn't need a cannon. However, Auburn fans will probably get a pleasant surprise now that Todd has had a full year to rehab his shoulder.
I'm not entirely sold on Todd's decision-making just yet--there were some seriously shaky moments last year that had nothing to do with his arm strength--but that can probably (OK, maybe hopefully) be ironed out by Malzahn in time for the opener. At the very least, we can say this: Todd has both way, way more recruiting pedigree and just as much experience as the two QB's Malzahn turned into TD-machines at Tulsa. Doesn't guarantee the same results, of course, but I for one will take my reasons for optimism where I can get.

Quickly ... speaking of Mandel, he's got a new column running down the prospects of all of D-I's new head coaches. Nothing insightful in the least re: Chizik and Auburn, but it's out there if you want a look.

Welcome back. Not a secret by now, but with classes starting yesterday Frenchy Pierre-Louis is back in the fold. Who knows what we'll get out of him, but if he's healthy and focused, he showed enough pre-injury last fall to think he could still be a big help.

Still no help. K-Scar writes a column applauding Chizik for the quick quarterbacking decision, and while I agree that this staff's decisiveness is a good sign for their future prospects, Scarbinsky still can't help out those of us who'd like a little more personal detail on Chizik--even though he's trying:
When you sit down in Gene Chizik's office and look around to get some insight into the new Auburn head coach at the end of two-a-days, there are few clues.

There's not a picture on the walls.

There's not a knick-knack on the shelves.

Which is a clue in itself.

The man who occupies this office doesn't have much use for decoration.

Oh, he'll get around to personalizing the place -- "that'll happen about next March," he said -- but he has more pressing business.

Like proving he belongs here.
I'm going to take this as a metaphor for Chizik himself--just as he's got decorations for his office but just hasn't put them up yet, so I'm assuming he's got a personality and a less-reserved side the public just hasn't seen yet.

Mid-term exams. The switch from two-a-days to one-a-days prompted beat hacks Jay G. Tate and Luke Brietzke to both issue "state of the team" blog posts. And speaking of Chizik's businesslike approach, Tate had this to say:
Chizik doesn't like mess.

That's the primary reason behind three players leaving the program this summer. The coach has instituted a reasonably strict dress code and holds his players to reasonably lofty behavioral standards. He also demands that helmets be lined up almost perfectly during warm-ups.

No detail is too small.

It was reasonable to assume the no-frills aura he created upon arrival would wane as fall arrived. That was an errant assumption. Chizik is as guarded and focused as ever these days.
The same complaint I had in the spring--that this approach won't fly if Auburn starts losing--still basically stands, but at least we haven't heard any complaints from any players yet, and you won't hear any from this end either with what appears to be a stronger core of leadership than we saw last year. Burns and the other quarterbacks would be part of that, of course, but it sounds like Walt McFadden is joining Antonio Coleman in taking the reins of the defense, too. (Which we need like crazy: with Aairon Savage gone, the defense will start a whopping three seniors, one of which is the relatively fresh face of Jake Ricks.)

Getting back to mid-terms, Tate's forecast that the thinness of Auburn's defense will result in more snaps for the starters is bad, bad news--because with the no-huddle on the other side of the ball, that's going to mean a freaking ton of snaps for those guys. In a year when Auburn will play its first 11 games in 11 weeks, color me already worried.

We'll figure this out later. At TWER, Jeremy (or maybe J.M.?) has trouble tracking down the "Authentic Films" company supposedly partnering to create Auburn Football: Every Day ... . At least the two gentlemen do exist and do have TV experience, but I'm pretty sure that "12 Emmys" claim is a wee bit exaggerated. Google does connect them with the Emmys, but, um, it's these Emmys. (Note that I'm sure these guys will do a fine job with the show: it's just interesting, is all.)

This is just sad. CFN's SEC bloggers on the OBC at Media Days:
The most interesting thing I saw during the SEC Media days was how flustered and uncomfortable Steve Spurrier looked at the podium. The once mighty Darth Visor looked awful. A self-admitted 7-6 head coach, it looks like 4 years at South Carolina has taken away his swagger, his attitude and his confidence. It was quite a change from the man that came into Media Days 4 years ago with the opinion that he could win the SEC at South Carolina and it seems evident that even he doesn’t believe that any longer.
I'm not the first person to say it, but against the schedule the 'Cocks are facing, I just don't see any way Spurrier's still in Columbia next year.

Etc. It'd be an even better story if she was American, but if Jamaican Olympic and now World Championship 100-meters silver-medalist Kerron Stewart was going to go to school in the States, I'm glad she went to Auburn ... PPL ties up some Auburn baseball odds and ends ... I don't have anything to add to the Brett Favre story, but the blog-takes here and here simply have to be passed on (language warning on that second, as you could probably guess from the URL alone) ... nd just so you know, Woodstock sucked.


easyedwin said...

Coach superior missed his opportunity to coach at Auburn last winter. I dare say it would be easier to win the west (UA & LSU) than the east (FL & UGA). I do not see him at Cock U. in '10 either. That having been said, he can always retire and come back like Favre!

Loganville Tiger said...

Great AU Re-Cap!

Interesting take on the Woodstock thing. I was 10 when that all happened. Always was interested in that event. Interesting to hear another opinion after just watching the History Channel documentary on the 40 year anniversary of the event last night lauding the whole Peace. Love & Music thing.


OTS said...

Spurrier was a mistake when South Carolina hired him (by and large) and it would have been a mistake had Auburn hired him last winter as well. Spurrier's not a terrible coach, but he seems to be middle of the road at this point. In essence, he has the look of a coach who takes control of a middling program and gets middling results, and there's nothing special about that.

For South Carolina, the same basic problem persists as it did with Holtz. Despite him being such a brand name, he's way past his prime. Holtz would have been a great hire in 1989, but in 1999? You're getting a very different coach. That was the same story with Spurrier. Had they gotten him after he left Duke he would have been great, but getting him sixteen years later is a whole different story.

And honestly, in hindsight, you do have to question just how good Spurrier was in the first place. The Gators are now much better with Meyer than they ever were with Spurrier, and frankly Spurrier has fallen flat on his face in his two stops since leaving Gainesville. I think what you have to say is that with all of the resources at their disposal, Florida is now almost guaranteed to be an elite program almost regardless of who is coaching, and the reality is that time has shown us that Spurrier needed Florida a hell of a lot more than Florida ever needed Spurrier.

Sullivan013 said...

There's no doubting Spurrier's talent. The man won at DUKE, for chrissakes, and his Florida record is the best since they joined the SEC except for Meyer.

As for that, Spurrier's winning percentage in 11 years was 82%, with the likes of Grossman and Wuerffel.

Meyer's is 83%, with Tim Tebow.

Now if you asked if his heart is still in it? That's another question. If you want to ask if ANYONE can recruit and win consistantly at USC with UT, UGA and UF in conference and UNC, Clemson and NCSU recruiting in your backyard (Not to mention Appalacian State, ECU, etc.), that's still another question.

USC should consider the fact that when Spurrier leaves,... what coach in his right mind would sign up for a career-killing move to Columbia?

As for Todd being the QB choice: Obviously, his mobility and play history weren't the deciding factors. Nor was his relationship to the coaching staff.

Judging by Smart Football's analysis, the QB is the deciding factor on the defensive reads and execution, putting the ball into the hands of the right player at the right time to exploit the defense. If an audible needs to be called, he's the guy who has to make it, in split second, to put the right play in based on what he sees the defense give him.

Todd was the choice. Much as I hate it, Kodi was not, other than the Wildcat (where he rivals Tebow, IMHIO). Neither was Neil Caudle. For those who think this is unfair, that is three for three OC's the wunderkind failed to impress beyond a 3rd string slot. Instead, Tyrik was given a chance and is obviously being groomed for greatness.

Like I said before, the coaching staff chose Todd as the best QB who can run the offense. Since I trust Malzahn knows his business (I was never sure with Franklin), I'm assuming his decision was the best one.

I'm at least willing to withhold judgement until I see a game.


jrsuicide said...

Todd is basically the caretaker of the team until the wheels fall off (aka somewhere around the LSU game) and then i will bet you my collection of rare punk 7 inches that Rollison is the QB by the end of the season.

Jerry Hinnen said...

I think the principal reason behind Spurrier's failures in Columbia are that he had things too good at Florida and he quit innovating. I watch his offense, and it still looks to me like the exact same offense Wuerffel was running back in the salad days. It's my guess that SS figured that worked once was always going to work, and that after designing the stuff that turned Duke into an ACC champion (still a staggering accomplishment) and Florida into an SEC juggernaut he just didn't feel like going back to the drawing board even as opposing DC's got more and more film on how to stop him.

I'll agree that this doesn't take away from what he did at Florida, though; yes, Meyer's replicating SS's results, but the Gators weren't shite before the OBC got there. I think the Florida coach does have a little bit of slack these days, but that's because of the foundation Spurrier laid ... and as Zook proved, it's not automatic, either. (I also happen to think Meyer is the best coach in the country at this point. His record from BGSU to Utah to UF is just mind-blowing.)

One other note: I think Holtz was still a good hire for them. Sure, he got old and let things spiral out of control, but they'd lost, what, 22 straight games at one point before he got them into two straight New Year's games? That's a hell of a turnaround. The grand finale with the Clemson brawl was an eyesore, but he did leave them in better shape than he found them.

Sully, I will say that I don't think the SC job is all that bad. Georgia has enough talent that between in-state and the Dawgs' leftovers, the 'Cocks should be OK. Plus they have terrific fan support, great facilities, etc. There's better out there, but there's worse, too.

JRS: I'll just say I'm not going to take that bet.

Hobbes said...

On the helmet lining up thingie .... I am glad the Chiznick brought that with him from ISU. I mean, without having the helmets lined up just so they would have been, what, 4-20 during his tenure?

And the Chiz doesn't like mess, yet he has hired Wayne Bolt. Twice.

Go figure that. Let me know what you come up with.