Chip Lindsey Begins New Offensive Era Today at Auburn as Spring Practice Gets Underway
Chip Lindsey has been given the baton by Gus Malzahn (photo: Julie Bennett/AL.com)
For the first time in his 25-year career as an offensive coach, Gus Malzhan will not be running his offense. That means the Auburn Tigers may have a different look in 2017 under new offensive coordinator, Chip Lindsey. The formation of that new look starts today as Auburn opens spring practice.
While the Tigers will be looking for players to replace defensive stars Carl Lawson, Montravius Adams, and Rudy Ford, the most pressing questions will be about the offense. Malzahn’s HUNH offense will be altered or replaced with a new scheme.
“This is going to be Chip’s offense,” Malzahn said when he hired Lindsey. “This is going to be his responsibility. I have a lot of trust in him. He’s going to do a great job.” It will be interesting to see if Gus can really hang up the clipboard. He says he can, but only time will tell.
That’s especially true when Gus’ forte is based on running the football while Lindsey’s reputation is that of a pass-heavy OC. Lindsey says meshing the two won’t be a problem. “We’ve all got our own personality that comes out when you design an offense, but the bottom line has never changed,” said Lindsey. “The most important thing is find ways to get the ball to your best players. It’s really that simple.” Could that mean returning to more play action, something we haven’t seen much of since Nick Marshall ran the plays? Or could it possibly mean a return to an Al Borges type approach?
The similarities in personnel are there for the offense to mirror something of the style of the 2004 undefeated Tigers. Borges had an NFL-talented quarterback in Jason Campbell and two of the league’s top runners in Ronnie Brown and Cadillac Williams. Lindsey will have five-star Baylor QB transfer Jarrett Stidham along with a backfield that includes the league’s leading rusher, Kamryn Pettway, and Kerryon Johnson, who scored 11 touchdowns in 2016. And then there’s Malik Miller who is healthy again and expects to make a push for playing time.
Last season was the first time in eight years that Auburn failed to have a receiver total 600 receiving yards. Expectations are high for Lindsey to turn that around. The likely candidates going in could be, Eli Stove, Nate Craig-Meyers, Ryan Davis, and Kyle Davis, who leads all returnees with 12 receptions for 248 yards and two touchdowns And there is the possibility that senior Jason Smith could flourish in a new scheme. Add to that mix the possibility of involving tight ends such as JUCO transfer Salvatore Cannella in the passing game, and Lindsey should have a lot of options to air it out.
A rebooted offensive line will be a concern with the graduation of left guard Alex Kozan and right tackle Robert Leff. However, coach Herb Hand does have veterans Austin Golson, Braden Smith and Darius James returning along with last year’s backup Mike Horton. And, Prince Tega Wanogho should finally be getting his opportunity.
Lindsey will have 15 spring practices and the April 8th A-Day game to evaluate his talent. It appears from the outside that the tools are there for the Auburn offense to get back to the top of the league. The journey begins this afternoon on the practice fields.