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A Long Season Ahead

By on September 13th, 2017 in Football 22 Comments »
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There is a growing lack of trust… toward Coach Malzahn. For a while after the remarkable 2013 season, fans continued to be patient with Gus, thinking that it was all part of some plan and accounting the troubles of the team to factors that were out of his control. Well, no more. Scrolling through my Facebook feed today, I’ve already seen Auburn fans, both those who are typically level-headed and those who are a little too quick to pull the trigger, pondering coaching replacements. And we’re only approaching the third week of the season. Gus has a long year ahead of him, and this kind of talk regarding the hot seat certainly won’t do him or the team any favors. 

I understand the frustrations. Believe me, I get it. But Auburn just played against one of the best defensive lines in college football history. And while 11 sacks is inexcusable, I believe that in the long run, this game just came at the worst possible time for Auburn. A road game in a harsh environment for a team that is still trying to find a rhythm offensively spelled trouble from the get-go. 

But things typically don’t end well… for coaches that demand complete and total control. We witnessed it last season with Nick Saban before the championship game against Clemson. Replacing an offensive coordinator a week before the biggest game of a true freshman quarterback’s life was an arrogant and hasty decision. One that was made out of emotion instead of reason. Saban allowed his demand for control get in the way, which ultimately affected the performance of his team.  

Gus Malzahn’s time at Auburn seems to be heading in a similar direction. Between last year’s games against Georgia, Alabama, Oklahoma and this year’s game against Clemson, Auburn has averaged 200 yards of offense per game. Take out the Oklahoma game, where most of the yardage came from garbage time late in the game anyway, and you’re left with an average of 154 yards of total offense.

Chip Lindsey may be calling plays… but the playbook, for the most part, is the same as last season’s. So sure, Chip is the play caller, but it’s pretty clear that they are coming out of Gus’ playbook. Not to mention, Gus is known to come into games with a script of play calls for certain situations. Gus has never fully embraced the passing game in any of his offenses. Many thought that Lindsey would be the answer to those problems. Instead, fans are met with the same ineffective, quirky play calling that has caused much frustration over the past few years. Auburn is far too talented to have to use gimmicks to get a first down on third and short. 

At this point, what will it take for Gus to realize that maybe his best option at this point is to relinquish his duties completely as an offensive play caller and allow Lindsey to take the reigns with his own system and playbook?

I’m afraid that realization will come far too late for a coach who was once considered to be the best offensive minds in the game.

22 Comments

  1. neonbets says:

    You make a good point here, Cole. It was a tough game in a tough environment. But for me, the presumption of Malzahn’s competence has switched to a presumption of incompetence.

    It just feels like Malzahn is a Cargo Cult Coach. He seems to think that ritualistic acts, such as shuffling coordinators and issuing proclamations that “we’re going to fix our offense” will magically result in the appearance of SEC Crowns and National Championships.
    More on Cargo Cults–which were especially prevalent after WWII. Malzahn has the bamboo fabricated coaching tower, coconut-shell head-phones and footballs made from straw and mud. Hell, the entire cargo cult description reads as a metaphor for Malzahn’s coaching tenure.

    After WWII, Pacific Islanders came to miss all the cargo and supplies that were dropped by planes or delivered by ships. in attempts to get cargo to fall by parachute or land in planes or ships again, islanders imitated the same practices they had seen the soldiers, sailors, and airmen use. Cult behaviors usually involved mimicking the day-to-day activities and dress styles of US soldiers, such as performing parade ground drills with wooden or salvaged rifles. The islanders carved headphones from wood and wore them while sitting in fabricated control towers. They waved the landing signals while standing on the runways. They lit signal fires and torches to light up runways and lighthouses.

    In a form of sympathetic magic, many built life-size replicas of airplanes out of straw and cut new military-style landing strips out of the jungle, hoping to attract more airplanes and produce more more riches.

    Cargo cults were typically created by individual leaders, or big men in the Melanesian culture, and it is not at all clear if these leaders were sincere, or were simply running scams on gullible populations. The leaders typically held cult rituals well away from established towns and colonial authorities, thus making reliable information about these practices very difficult to acquire.

  2. wewantbriles says:

    can we please hire art briles

    • eyecu says:

      As OC or Coach? If it is as OC, nothing will change. Can’t understand for life of me why Gus can’t see something has to CHANGE. Right now he can decide what to change, same results the rest of the season someone else decides.

  3. Tigerpharm says:

    Good post Cole,

    ” Auburn just played against one of the best defensive lines in college football history (and) … A road game in a harsh environment for a team that is still trying to find a rhythm offensively.” It was one game, there’s plenty more to play down that long road.
    For me, I’m waiting to see how they bounce back and not just against Mercer.

    War Eagle!

  4. Tigerstripe Tigerstripe says:

    Clemson being, “one of the best defensive lines in college football history”…??? Hyperbole much? So what does that make Ga Southern’ s D line??? LOL Now that I have time to think about it, bolting on a spread offense to our existing offensive scheme is a cluster$#@!!** Even IF we turn this ship around mid-voyage, why must we live this way??? WHY???

  5. Col.Angus Col.Angus says:

    Sorry Cole, this does not wash. I don’t care if Auburn was going up against the ’85 Bears defense, what happened Sunday showed complete lack of preparation for what we were going to face and complete stubborn inability to adjust in-game to what was happening.
    We knew that Clemson had dominating down linemen, going into the game. EVERYBODY knew that. It was talked about ad nauseum all summer, “How will Auburn attack Clemson’s front seven!!”
    Ummmm, I don’t know, you take away their impact in the game, thats how. You nullify a dominate defensive line by making them be disciplined and not letting them charge downhill into the backfield. You throw quick short passes, you utilize draw plays and RUNNING BACK screens (NOT THOSE F’ing bubble screens that never, EEEEEEEVVVVVER work for us). You make the defense defend the whole field……you utilize… what is it they call it???…….UMMM…..Oh yeah…THE SPREAD OFFENSE!!! You have short passing options, intermediate passing options and a downfield option.
    Running a seven step drop back, downfield passing attack, coupled with a single back interior rushing attack??? OMG, it was like Brent Venables was calling the plays it was so scripted to cater to Clemson’s strengths. And whats worse, we made no adjustments. It just got worse and worse and worse. Just like in the UGA game last year, a first down was celebrated as a victory. This is beyond imcompetance, because we have GREAT ATHLETIC TALENT on this team. MY GOD, HAVE YOU SEEN KYLE DAVIS AND NATE CRAIG MYERS???? THose guys are chiseled out of granite, they should be targeted on every passing play and be allowed to make plays. They can physically intimidate any CB they should encounter. We Even with 7 players in pass protection Clemson couldn’t double team both of them and yet there was no effort to get them the ball. We don’t even seem to have a plan to utilize these guys or to get them involved in the game plan. Its depressing to watch,
    I don’t know, I guess Gus might turn it around but even if he does, it doesn’t change the fact that he didn’t have the team prepared for a CRUCIAL early game match up. One that he had ALLLLL YEEEEEEAAR to prepare for. Kevin Steele did his job and if not for some inspired runs by Bryant Kelly on two drives, we might have won this game in spite of Malzahn. That is damning IMO. Even if this is the exception and we have a great season from here on out, how can anyone look at what happened and not say “What a missed opportunity due to incompetant prepartation”. Sorry thats just not acceptable, not to the degree that we were humiliated. Not when you are talking historically bad performance by ANY team, not just Auburn bad. This was worst offense in the nation bad….Buffalo vs Alabama type of dominance. What does it say about your coaching when you have an entire offense of 4 and 5 star talent and can only muster 15 yards in the second half of a game that you absolutely have a chance to win!!!??? We all know the answer, but can not come to grips with it, because to do so would take away all hope from salvaging the season.
    So here it is Gus. You have proven you are no longer an offensive mastermind…..in fact you are proving that you are an offensive dunce, no longer capable of constructing a viable gameplan against a power five program. You either need to scrap your playbook….which no longer works…..or let someone else run the offense. I would really like to see what Chip Lindsey can do. OH, and also, please have Chip and Kodi Burns get on YouTube to find some instructional videos on how to coach QB’s and WR’s. PLEASE. I know these guys can learn, they are 18+ years old and in college, I think they can learn if properly coached. PROPERLY coached. That seems to be the missing ingredient on offense.

  6. Orangeblood says:

    Question No 1…
    Who would you say eventually makes a better head coach, Offensive or Defensive co-ordinators?
    Question No 2…
    Will Kevin Steele be Auburns next Head Coach?

    • uglyjoe says:

      If Auburn were to completely collapse this year and Malzahn got fired Midstream, I think Steele would certainly be the interim coach. I may be wrong, but I don’t think he wants to be a head coach again. I seem to remember that one of the big things about him coming to Auburn was to get vested in the state’s retirement program.

  7. ATL_AU_FAN ATL_AU_FAN says:

    I’m not sure what to think. I know it was a painful night in Clemson.

  8. TexasAUTiger TexasAUTiger says:

    Gus is a dead man walking because of his unwillingness to adapt. Hopefully we get someone that can develop players and make in game changes! WDE!

  9. Tiger4Life says:

    Back shoulder fade? Clemson does it WELL… we never do…
    2 step slant to #33? Completion, positive yardage, possible big play…
    Why would Kyle Davis and Nate Craig Myers want to play WR in OUR offense? It’s not like they don’t have true vertical game options…
    On a positive note, Gus & Co have recruited some of the best defensive talent we have had in Auburn in a very long time?
    Back to the offense- where were the throws to the backs? TE? H-Back?
    After we connected on that first 3rd and 14 I said to myself “Great! Finally, we are going to have a very respectable passing game to go along with the run and defense— Um, not unless change happens FAST

    • audad says:

      Tiger4, you made reference to the first 3rd and 14 conversion, which was on our first possession. Thank you. That pass was to Nate Craig-Myers. He went up high between two DB’s, caught it, got hammered and still held on. First down. The only pass thrown to him all night, and that after zero the previous week. For the life of me, I can’t figure out how the kid that became our best receiver last year is no longer a main part of this offense. So many things are baffling about this offense (so what else is new early in a Gus Malzahn season?), but this ignoring of Craig-Myers is beyond comprehension.

  10. easyedwin easyedwin says:

    What he said /\ /\

  11. idnod idnod says:

    Sometimes you just gotta buy what the Coaches are selling… All the goals for the season are still attainable…..Maybe Clemson’s defense IS that good. After all, Clemson just beat Bama. And maybe Stidham took 4 unnecessary sacks cause he didn’t throw the ball away. And maybe they’ll work out the offensive kinks against Mercer and get progressively better each week…..maybe. BUT, going back a couple of years, maybe if the Offense had scored touchdowns when they had the opportunity, they could have put FSU too far behind to catch up. And maybe the defense should have gotten more credit for the win over Oregon….and GASP… if it hadn’t been for 2 once-in-a-generation plays against Georgia and Bama, we probably wouldn’t even be having this conversation. The question is, at the end of the season, will we still be buying ?

  12. meathead530 says:

    Two things that really bother me: 1) Gus doesn’t adapt. You would think he’d try something different to save himself some dignity. 2) Do the players have trust in his leadership? I think this is why the 2013 team did so well. They were ready for change and got behind their new coach. I’m worried that the talent on the team is there, but they aren’t motivated enough to play when the coaching seems uninspiring.

  13. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..I’m ready to put the Clemson game in the rear-view mirror, but I do have one additional comment. I don’t think the Clemson loss was lack-of-effort based. And that WAS a good defense.

  14. Orangeblood says:

    The Clemson loss was mostly due to a crushing passrush that Gus didnt compensate against.

  15. jlobailey says:

    I have to say, the fair weather fans are quite annoying. CGM has two SEC rings, and NC ring, and we’ve been to another NC under him. I understand that in ’10 he was just a coordinator, but there are few coaches that could’ve utilized McCaleb, Dyer, and Cam like CGM. Likewise, I don’t know many coaches that can put a DB at QB and get 40+ points a game. Last season no one was complaining during the midseason stretch when we were putting up video game numbers.

    Additionally, everyone wants to blame CGM for the O, but no one is giving him credit for the players and coaches he’s assembled on the defense. I can’t remember a coach who’s recruited as consistently as CGM on the plains, and that’s why the D is so good– we’ve got outstanding athletes all over the front seven.

    Lastly, I thought the JJohnson fiasco would’ve been enough for us to realize that a few good games does not a good QB make. Stidham looked like a deer in the headlights. ESPN made a compilation of all the sacks from the Clemson game, and if you review them you’ll see that at least half could’ve been avoided if he would’ve just thrown the ball away. That falls back on CGM, but I think he was obligated to name Stidham the starter by the same stiff-necked fans who now want him fired. If he had named Sean White starter, people would’ve wanted him fired before game one.

    We played the #3 team at their place at night and lost by 8. Y’all get your panties out of a wad, and support THE WHOLE TEAM until the end.

    • sparkey sparkey says:

      Oh hell no!!! You didn’t just call me a fair weather fan! You can go on somewhere else with that Kristi. Or, is that you Gus? Either way, I’m damned tired of his mediocre behind and if you want him to stay your coach, then that’s cool. However, after one season as a head coach he has continued to get worse. The whole JJ fiasco that you mentioned, that whole thing was HIS fault.

      He lies to his fan base. He lies constantly. The man is a pathological liar who has started believing his own lies. I for one, would rather fans like you not say anything. People like you are the reason he is still here along with Jay Jacobs. Let me guess, you were totally with Chizik too going in to 2012 right? I am not fair weather. I love Auburn. I treasure the time I have to pull for AUBURN. I don’t pull for Gus Kristi. Sorry.

    • TigerWoman TigerWoman says:

      I can understand the frustration that fans are feeling but what is hard for me to grasp is the vitriol that some use in venting.

  16. easyedwin easyedwin says:

    Fair weather? Nah!
    Auburn Alumni Association lifer here; Class of 1974.
    Some of the things I am seeing do remind me of Tubbs last year as HC though.