In Gus We Trust – Or Bust

By Posted on: December 28th, 2012 in Featured Article, Football 11 Comments »
Gus Bus Ticket

All In – Those two words became ingrained within our subconscious during the previous coaching regime. Ever since Auburn’s run to the national championship in 2010 it has been second only to, “War Eagle,” and for good reason, because All In fits in very well with the current state of Auburn football. Newly hired head-coach, Gus Malzahn, will be taking the Tigers into virtually uncharted waters by structuring his entire program around his fast-paced offensive attack. To accomplish this, he will need the full commitment and cooperation from his entire staff at all times. Building that kind of chemistry will take time, but he has done a good job of bringing in coaches with a ton of previous SEC coaching experience thus far. Bringing Rodney Garner on board has easily been his best move, but it is just one of many brilliant moves Gus will have to make to put Auburn back in the hunt for championships.


Auburn’s new defensive coordinator, Ellis Johnson, has a challenging role in the new direction of the program. He has to figure out a way for his defense to be successful in a situation that not many defenses have succeeded historically. This will be an interesting aspect to follow as kickoff for 2013 draws near. From day one it has to be accepted and planned for that the Malzahn offense will often put a battle-weary defensive unit back on the field with far less than average rest and recovery time between series. This happens to every team many times during the course of any given season, but with Malzahn you are guaranteed this scenario in essentially every game. Defense will be one of Malzahn’s biggest challenges with the team he’s inherited, but not just purely from a personnel standpoint. Every year, if you look back at the results of the best SEC teams, you will find that they relied heavily on their defenses for 1-2 wins minimum. It doesn’t mean they needed a shutout, but on any given week in the SEC you could easily find yourself scratching and clawing for a 17-14 victory late in the 4th quarter. Johnson will need to be fully committed to operating under the typical Malzahn scenarios in order to be successful.

Offensively, Auburn should improve significantly going forward. Malzahn is a proven commodity in the SEC and college football in general so increased scoring should return early but not fully in 2013. Of all of the hurry-up offenses being implemented, Gus’ is the most physical and that should set up well with the current talent on campus. The shelves are not empty by any means, so that should begin to translate to the field at some point. Gus has consistently been able to get much more than expected out of players and I expect that to continue. The remaining talent and personnel will be much clearer after spring practice and a likely wave of attrition.

The discipline problems sprinkled around the team currently have had obvious effects on performance and overall attitude. A little house-cleaning will probably do the program wonders. Of all the things I can complain about from Chizik or any previous coach’s time at Auburn, discipline will always top my list of gripes (if applicable). Chizik, whether by his own fault or circumstance, fostered a lot of discipline problems among the players and that is unacceptable in my eyes. These young men have been given opportunities most would kill for and to have them bring shame on the university with their misbehavior is unfortunate. I hope Malzahn addresses this issue head-on.  

Auburn Fan - In Gus We Trust

Looking back it seems like All In meant more to the Auburn Family all along. Offenses were muffled, defenses were altered, and all the while we were All In with it, but it is important not to forget the beauty in that. It is also important not forget the importance of it. Gus Malzahn, the little Arkansas high-school football coach that could, is attempting to do something with the Auburn Tigers that’s never been done in the SEC. Yes, it is risky – and yes, there will be growing pains. Success will require the teamwork of the entire program and fan-base, and failure could set the program back tremendously. So grab your ticket for the Gus Bus, because we’re all ALL IN more than ever before. 

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  1. KoolBell KoolBell says:

    Please don’t take this as a personal attack. It is not meant to be.

    I feel all the angst about running a HUNH offense, but I truly believe it is all misdirected. The amount of time any defense spends on the field of play, is solely the responsibility of that defense. No one has delivered a concrete argument showing how an offense scoring in 49 seconds has any real deflating effect on an effective defense.

    I believe quite the opposite. If your offense can score at will, the defense should be more pumped to get back out there and get the offense the ball back the quickest way possible.

    There is not an offense in the country that is directly responsible for the amount of time any defense spends on the field. Ideally I would like to see the AU offense back out on the field in less than two minutes after finishing a drive in the end zone. That is how defenses should approach their mission.

    WAR EAGLE!

    • Derrick Roberts Derrick Roberts says:

      KoolBell, I agree with you for the most part. I just get the impression a lot of teams allow the presence of a HUNH system in the program to negatively affect the mindset of the defensive side of the ball. Whether that be from incorrect preconceived notions, close-mindedness, etc.

      More of my worries concerning the AU defense stem from recent fundamental struggles that go well beyond what is happening on the other side of the ball.

    • Col.Angus Col.Angus says:

      Agree totally, albeit from a different point of view. The problem with defense on teams that run the HUNH, is that it requires a RADICAL philosophical change than most SEC teams are used to. IMO for the HUNH to work you have to attack on both sides of the ball on every play. High risk,high reward. Most coaches don’t have the stomach to incorporate that philosophy where they are attacking when they have a lead late in the second half. Any team can run out the clock when the opposing defense cant stop the run, its what you do when you play a stout defense that CAN stop the run. What ends up happening is that the offensive play calling gets more conservative and predictable which leads to 3 and outs and your defense spending the end of the game trying to stave off a comeback. With the HUNH you HAVE to take what the defense gives you, and late in the game the opposing defenses are going to be giving you the pass, and you have to be have the guts to throw the ball AND the execution to convert those attempts. In other words you have to treat the end of the game like the start of the game, pressing the attack until you can line up in the victory formation.
      Our opponents will try to shorten the game and keep our offense off the field with ball control. Our primary goal on defense should be taking away an opponents running game and force the opposing QB to make quick decisions in the passing game. That means stuffing the box on running downs and blitzing on passing downs. DB’s will need to play WR’s tight and try to disrupt their timing off the line, as hopefully we will be getting somebody in the QB’s face within seconds of the snap. We WILL give up cheap and easy scores as a result but we will also force more turnovers and get the offense back on the field.
      This seems like a no-brainer but the true test of Gus and his system will be when he is within grasp of that first signature win and he has the lead late. Will he risk defeat to ensure victory? Will he stay true to his philosophy and attack? If the answer to both of those questions is yes….and Gus can win….we will have something truly special on the plains.

    • Todd92 Todd92 says:

      I don’t think the no huddle lends itself to bad defense, just bad defensive stats, the defense does spend more time on the field whether winning or losing. Show me one HUNH team that wins time of possession in a game against a team that operates at a normal pace…. I’ve never seen it. More possessions for an offense means more snaps for a defense….. More opportunity for the opponent to rack up stats. It’s just the way it is…. I don’t have a problem with it but it will always cause a knee jerk reaction from those who want the opponent shut down.

  2. Randyc37 Randyc37 says:

    I do agree. The defense should be able to keep with any offense if they are properly trained and coached.

  3. Malakai Malakai says:

    Practicing with a Gus offense day in and day out should condition the defense to a no huddle. I’m not terribly worried.

  4. wpleagle says:

    Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it! Let’s hope Coach Gus is a good observer of recent AU teams and that he gets firm control over a team that has far too much talent to perform as the 2012 Tigers did.
    I’m really encouraged by the staff hires to this point, and I hope the coaches will have a Pat Dye/Shug Jordan “it’s our way or the highway” approach to leading this team. I don’t think anyone is expecting shutouts every game, but I think 20 points or less from opponents is not unrealistic. Nor do I think that the defense should be gassed in the second quarter, which seemed to be case in some of the 2012 games. If we get back to proper conditioning, including no booze or drugs which some of my on-campus young friends have told me was endemic last year, and get great coaching from the defensive staff, then good things will come.
    Lest anyone think I’m ignoring the offense, this is Gus’ bailiwick. With full control over the offense, I think the sky can be the limit. If the defense, both coaches and players, buy in, I see a strong future.
    War Eagle. Go Big Blue! HAPPY NEW YEAR TO THE TRACK ‘EM TIGERS WRITERS, READERS, AND CONTRIBUTORS!!!!

  5. mikeautiger says:

    It really should not matter what offense AU runs or the opponent. If you are disrupting the opponents offensive line and play in their backfield then they will be 3 and out or we cause turnovers and our offense should get tired of scoring so many points. Malzhan will score point running his offense fully.

  6. DBAU81 says:

    I share the concern about the defense and how it may be affected by partnering with a HUNH offense. Hopefully we can develop some depth on the defensive side that will allow us to rotate a lot of players and minimize any fatigue problems. Ultimately, though, if we can score enough points we won’t have to be dominant on defense – just adequate.

  7. Todd92 Todd92 says:

    Good read. I’ll always be All In as a fan and alumni.

  8. wde1988 wde1988 says:

    Confessions of an AU ALUM:

    I actually was excited when Chizik was hired. I didn’t care what his record was at ISU. I thought that he would be what AU needed. And for two seasons… he was.

    Somewhere along the way he got lost.

    ‘D’ is for DISCIPLINE or DEFENSE. I thought either would be applicable for Chizik. Apparently, Chizik lost his way with both.

    2011 I thought was ok. I believed the hype that AU had a young, young team. I expected to see mega improvement in 2012. ‘D’ is also for DISAPPOINTMENT.

    I knew things were bad when AU got blown out by MSU. I was at the game. I thought AU could win until middle of the 3d QTR… but for whatever reason our defense was unbelievably bad.Things got worse after that game. Yes, AU played well against LSU… but the wheels fell off there after.

    ‘D’ is what I give coach Chizik as an overall grade. He is lucky he doesn’t get an ‘F’.

    Moving on. Can Gus win?

    I don’t know. But so far his staff is exceptional. With this kind of talent he can’t fail. It’s not allowed. And before people start typing… YES, THERE ARE EXPECTATIONS. To say that there isn’t any… well, ‘D’ is for DELUSIONAL.

    LOL.

    I think next season – just based off vibe – is a winning one. I think AU can win at least 6.

    *I can’t believe I am saying this*

    Honestly, I am more interested in how AU can regroup and recruit. We are loaded with top talent recruiters. I believe that is the first step for any head coach. The one thing this staff can’t forget… it should be stamped everywhere in and around Jordan Hare… losing to bama isn’t a crime. But getting creamed by them without competing… well, that is DETESTABLE. And as far as I am concerned is a fireable offense.

    Gus gets at least two years. But if he can’t get it done by then… we might want to warm up the engines on the planes… because with this kind of coaching talent… there isn’t any excuses for NOT winning.

    WDE