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Malzahn Survives. Will He Regret It?

By on November 5th, 2018 in Football 32 Comments »

Two days later and I still can’t explain it. Or understand it. How this Auburn team found a way to win a football game with only 19 yards rushing is the most mystifying thing I’ve witnessed in more than 40 years of watching football. Few people get to witness their own death and live to talk about it. Count Gus Malzahn among the few. This guy’s career was as dead as they come heading into the fourth quarter against Texas A&M.

Now we turn to Amen Corner and dare we say, Gus has momentum? Nah. You can’t rush for under the drinking age and have anything close to mojo. The big question remains, what does this offense look like heading to Athens?

Does Auburn let Jarrett Stidham go retro and start slinging it like his Baylor days? What’s the alternative? It worked for a quarter Saturday. Clearly, this offensive line paired with a banged up Boobee Whitlow is going nowhere fast against the Georgia defense.

Saturday’s comeback win may have saved Gus, but it doesn’t cover up what we all watched in horror at Jordan-Hare Stadium. It certainly hasn’t swayed Las Vegas, which quickly made Georgia a two-touchdown favorite. This is a bad offensive football team that found a way to win, and it should be congratulated.

It doesn’t mean Auburn has found a way forward. It simply saved the Tigers from another trip to Birmingham in December. It probably won’t spare them from a beatdown in Athens. At the end of the day, we won’t see a repeat of 2012. To Malzahn’s credit, this team hasn’t quit. Whether you like him or not, he’s done a fine job keeping the players together.

Does this erase all of the termination talk? Certainly not, but it’s highly unlikely Auburn makes a change following a seven-win season. The bigger question is the impact this has on the coaching staff and recruiting in the coming weeks. Changes are certain to be made following signing day next month.

Finding a way on paper to beat either Georgia or Alabama is an almost impossible task. The Auburn defense must play its best game just to keep things respectable. They looked far from it coming off the bye week. The dominant defense of September is now a shell of itself.

Should Auburn lose big as expected this month, what will the climate be around the athletic department going  forward? While Malzahn is likely to survive, how will the off-season look should they be humiliated down the stretch?

Auburn people don’t expect to beat Georgia or Alabama yearly. When you pay a coach $49 million, you do expect them to be competitive. Right now, nothing points to that happening this year. While Gus may survive the season, there will likely be days ahead when he wished he’d died on Saturday.

32 Comments

  1. uglyjoe says:

    He survives, will pull a Tuberville at end of season. New offensive staff. We are stuck with him for awhile. If he goes, Leeth has to go; not gonna happen.

  2. Zach Taylor Zach Taylor says:

    I appreciate the healthy dose of realism in this article.

    Props to the team for the win. I watched until the bitter end despite thinking i was just setting myself up for failure.

    In some ways, to suddenly score 2 touchdowns in the last minutes, after 10 series in which only one had a first down, is just as head scratching as being held under 20 yards of rushing. How is any of that possible?

    I just dont know.

    Seems like the only part of the malzahn offense that defenses haven’t figured out is the complete “soil yourself-panic pace” offense. That offense looked remarkably like the offense that Stidham has run almost his entire life, which many people have wondered why he wasnt running it all this time.

  3. neonbets says:

    In what world is Malzahn going to look back on the A&M game and regret the win? Oh man. If only my team had quit on me. If only that damn Stidham didn’t have such a great 4th quarter. We wouldda lost and I couldda been Chizik’s wing-man on the SEC Network.

    C’mon.

    As for fan expectations next week…that 14 pt line in favor of UGA is absurd. I do expect Auburn to be competitive. UGA is (mildly) overrated.

    Jay’s using the wrong conjunction in relation to Auburn vs both UGA/’bama. Finding a way to beat UGA and‘bama on the road is almost impossible. And this is true for every other team in college football besides Clemson.

    Finding a way to beat UGA orAlabama, while unlikely, is far from impossible. [This is due to the fact that UGA is beatable. ‘bama…not so much.]

  4. WDEGirl says:

    No way in that warm space down below, that AU can even begin to compete with Georgia. We will lose by more than 2 touchdowns. Especially in Athens.

    1) Texas A&M totally controlled the 1st half by running effectively and running the clock down; they beat AU on Time of possession. UGA has Holyfield and Swift, all they have to do is run and run the clock down.

    2) AU was 3 of 11 on third down conversions. This does not win games

    3) Both of the above keeps AU Defense on the field way too long to compete for 4 qrtrs.

  5. War_Eagle_2010 War_Eagle_2010 says:

    I only watched the 2nd quarter before I was just too angry to continue watching, so I did work on my house. Then my wife told me Auburn had won and I thought she was mistaken, I remember feeling elated when the ESPN game-cast app incorrectly read FINAL Auburn 21, LSU 19, for five minutes after the game ended. I wasn’t going to be fooled again. But, lo and behold Auburn did win this one. Perhaps Auburn’s worst game, yet they win? What an odd year.

  6. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..One thing about going air-raid is you’re probably going to have more turnovers. What I like about it is that 2nd and 10 isn’t a drive-killer, when you’re going to throw it 2 or 3 more times. Right now, we give it up the gut on 1st down, and the drive is likely dead. Or we go for the bomb, don’t catch it, and the drive is dead.

    …..If you’re throwing it 35-40 times a game, or more, the receivers get in a rhythm, and get used to catching it. The way Gus likes to run the offense, even the starting receivers are only going to get a few targets a game, and there is a lot more pressure to make a play.

  7. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..I watched the whole Patriots/Packers tilt last night. Wide-open offense, and it was a ton of fun to watch.

    • zotus zotus says:

      Acid, I know some folks old enough to remember Al Michaels’ memorable call of the end of the 1980 USA vs USSR Hockey Game … and, they can also remember when Chris Collinsworth played for the Florida Gators and went by the name, “Cadillac Collinsworth.”

      With the historical perspective of these two guys that make up the NBC broadcast team, I was really surprised as I listened to them call the opening Pats drive against the Packers.

      They went on … and, on … and, on about the fast tempo of the Pats offense. They used superlative, after superlative, after superlative, after superlative to describe the so-called ‘scripted’ fast tempo opening drive … but, they never gave credit where credit is due:

      Just as everybody on the planet now knows that Al Gore invented the internet, everybody on the planet surely now knows that Gus Malzahn invented the fast tempo, no huddle offense a long time ago in high school.

      How about a little love and respect for Auburn’s “Football Genius and One of the Best Offensive Minds in the Nation” out there, NBC? Just saying.

      WDE!

      • Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

        …..As I often do, I had the sound down pretty low watching evening football. The family was in the next room trying to catch up on a Walking Dead marathon. There was a good bit of unusual football on, yesterday.

        …..In particular, it looked like neither Kansas City nor the Rams were playing by the usual NFL script. Gus’ wildcat made several appearances!

        • fasttimes says:

          Gruden used to point out the Pats running Auburn plays and they damn sure do. a lot of their screens and motion plays look just like us.

        • zotus zotus says:

          Oh yes, “Gus’ wildcat.” Another Malzahn invention, to be sure.

          “Necessity being the mother of invention” … and all, when a football genius finds it necessary to have an offense, a football genius just invents a new one.

          Apparently, Gus didn’t think it necessary to have an offense to beat Texas A&M, so he just waited for some Aggie turn-overs an dialed-up a couple jump-ball-fades and a trick-pass-play from his slot receiver to his tight end.

          What a genius! No need for an offense, no need to invent one!

          Can’t wait to see what the football genius is going to come up with now that he’s rounding Amen Corner.

          Keep Hope Alive!

          • Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

            …..Just to clarify to anyone casually seeing this conversation… A lot of it is sarcastic. Gus did not “invent” the hurry-up, nor the wildcat. He started out with an old Wing-T book, and welded a lot of stuff into it.

          • zotus zotus says:

            Note to Acid

            RE: The father of the infamous “wildcat” formation.

            When Arkansas started running the formation back in 2006 with McFadden and Felix Jones, the only discussion I remember, from outside the SEC, concerned whether Coach Nutt & his staff were ‘stealing’ the name of the formation as well as ‘stealing’ the formation without ‘giving credit where credit was due.’

            It was all done in good fun, with some coaches throwing shade at Coach Nutt … and, of course, Coach Nutt throwing shade back by switching over to call ‘his version’ of the formation the “wild-hog.” And, when he went to Ole Miss Coach Nutt started calling ‘his version’ of the formation the “wild-rebel.”

            I figure we ought to count our blessings that Gus didn’t start calling “Gus’ version” of “Coach Nutt’s version” of the formation the “wild-tiger” when Gus got his hands on the controls of Auburn’s football team in 2013. 🙂

  8. WDE7385 WDE7385 says:

    Props to the team for pulling out a win, however it happened.
    There was one thing that Brock (the ESPN talking head that I can’t remember his last name) had to say that I will paraphrase:
    It appears Auburn has finally abandoned what is proven not to work and is trying to do what has worked.
    That verbiage by Brock what’s his name has stuck with me. At the time, it was very appropriate explanation.
    Amazing after playing 3 + quarters getting stuffed running on first down, the offense suddenly does the only logical thing to do when you are down by 10 and only minutes left in the game, start passing.
    So, whoever made the decision to go to the air, I applaud your decision and say “Thank you!”.

  9. easyedwin easyedwin says:

    Look. We are not going to be successful running the ball against our last 3 opponents. We have very talented receivers that are fast, tall and capable. We are not going to bench JS for Willis or any one else. Soo…..sling it! Run qb draws. Mix Flash in on a sweep. Get the UgA defense back on their heels. Make them place their hands on their belts because they are gassed. DO NOT LET UP for a single play. ATTACK! ATTACK! ATTACK! [coach Thompsons theme]. No one is expecting Auburn to give UgA a game. Soo…..BLITZ! BLITZ! BLITZ! Put a hurting on Fromm. Sack, strip, fumble and touchdown. We know Auburns defense is capable of all these things.
    Because what do we have to lose? Because this is AUBURN!

    • dyingculture dyingculture says:

      Would shock the college football world if Malzahn suddenly goes air raid. He sort of did it before in Tulsa, though nobody remembers that. UGA would be completely unprepared for this and Auburn really does have the tools.

      AU has the receivers for it and the QB with an arm for it. The OL is terrible at run blocking but they have proven to be surprisingly good at pass protection (but when the protection breaks down, it’s baaaaaaaaaaaad).

      Go on and abandon the run and pass 50 times – the run just hasn’t worked the entire year anyway. A ground and pound game won’t work vs. UGA this year.

      The coaching staff flat-out out coached Kirby Smart & Co last year. They can do it again.

      • WDEGirl says:

        AU didn’t outsmart UGA and Kirby Smart nor anybody else last year. UGA loses to us, wins the SEC Championship game a week later (because unlike Malzahn, Kirby is open to learning from mistakes), makes it to the Playoff and then makes it to the Final. AL loses to us, does not make it to the SEC Championship game and makes it to the Playoff and then wins the whole thing. UGA and UAT outsmarted us by a long shot.

        Then for salt in the wound, Steven Leath signs the ridiculous contract and extension for a Coach who was 1-4 in Bowl Games.

        • jbellison56 says:

          So even when Gus beats 2 No. 1 teams in a row, you can’t give him any credit. When he loses he’s over his head and when he wins big games, it’s always because the other coach just had an off day. You must be Mrs Taylor. Your comments sound just like Zach’s. Or maybe Zach is posting comments under a pseudonym.

          • WDEGirl says:

            Not related to Zach in anyway. But I’m not offended, because I like what Zach has to offfer and he’s a smart guy! And if your only form of reply is snark, don’t try to have a discussion with the Adults here, just go outside and play.

            People couldn’t handle the truth with Tommy Tuberville and people can’t handle the truth with Gus Malzahn.

            Let me tell you the truth of Auburn beating 2 No. 1 Teams last year….it meant nothing, zilch, zero, nada. It means nothing, because the 2 teams we beat went on to play for a NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP. The entire sports world laughs at us, when we bring up that “we beat 2 No. 1 teams”, because they know it means NOTHING!!! Do you think UGA, UAT and their fans, alumni and students care that we beat them last year?? Nope, they do not. Because 1 of those teams got another Natty and the other one is going back to ATL this year for another shot at the playoffs, while AU drowns in mediocrity and gets beat by TENNE freaking SSEE.

        • jbellison56 says:

          No 'Reply' button on your last comment (@2:39 pm) so I'll do it here.
          As I said before … you still can't seem to give credit for any success. Only blame for failures.

          But if I offended you I apologize.

          BTW,
          I looked up your name calling word "snarky" and this is what I found:
          "cynical, irascible, sharply critical; cutting, testy, scornful, spiteful, irritable, caustic, abrasive, and short-tempered."
          I don't want to be that way but it seems like you may.

        • zotus zotus says:

          Note to WDEGirl

          I looked up “Virtue Signaling 101” on the world-wide-net-blog, and I found the following guidelines:

          Rule #1: If you use the phrase — “I don’t want to be that way but it seems like you may” — then, you may be a virtue signaler.

          P.S. Illegitimi non carborundum. Nor, the virtue signalers. WDE!

          • jbellison56 says:

            Since you felt it necessary to pick up a stone and throw more name calling at me after quoting me in your note above, I will respond once – to your statement about grinding down others (“Illegitimi non carborundum”) – Kudos to you sir because no one does that better than you.
            Have a nice day.

          • zotus zotus says:

            Note to: jbellison56

            The definition of “name-calling” (when used as a noun) is: “abusive language or insults.”

            “Name-calling” by me toward you? I don’t believe I did that.

            But I want to address your comments to me as follows:

            1) In my post I did say that the language that you used in your comments to WDEGirl appeared to be an example of what may be called nowadays, “virtue signaling.”

            2) I do not believe that my having associated your name with the phrase “virtue signaling” and the phrase “virtue signaler” was abusive language and/or insults.

            3) If you believe what I posted constituted abusive language and/or insults, that was not my intention. Nevertheless, I meant you no offense.

        • dyingculture dyingculture says:

          I agree with you. Kirby Smart performed brilliantly against us last year when he got to play in the Georgia Dome, when we played Bama the week before, and when our top 3 RBs were injured, and our only RBs healthy were Barrett and Miller.

          But no matter how you look at it, the first matchup we outplayed them in every phase of the game, and yes, it was due to coaching. They were caught flat-footed time and time again.

          But I will admit, Georgia does look pretty good whenever it plays championship games in Atlanta, whether the opponent is us or Bama.

  10. Solojoe says:

    This is some sort of joke or parody right?
    Gus and the team beat our 2 biggest rivals last year while they were ranked at #1 – and some on here think it's because the coaches (Kirby and Saban) let us win so they could get to the championship games or some really crazy scheme because no way Gus could've beaten them straight up.

    I remember back in 2010 when Cam and the Tigers came back from being 24 points down to beat Alabama (with Gus as the OC I might add). I had some Alabama friends who vehemently insisted that Saban threw the game because there was no way he could have lost that game unless he wanted to lose it on purpose. Back in 2010 that was as absurd then as these theories on why and how we won those games last year sound now.

    Also, I definitely don't hear anyone in the 'sports world' laughing at us about beating 2 #1s last year so I'm not sure where someone would get that. Maybe the same place they would get the conspiracy theories about Saban and Kirby and their diabolical plan to take over the national championship by losing to Auburn. Funny stuff.

    Now for the adults. Gus definitely has his shortcomings. Among them is why we have to go through this drop off on the offensive line every 3 years or so, it's beyond me. We should be reloading and not rebuilding meaning we should be rotating offensive line guys on the blow out games (and really, not just line guys but everywhere) so they can get some experience.

    Now having said that, our line guy (JB Grimes) wasn't here for the past couple of years so that might have something to do with it. At any rate, the bad O-line is a big reason why everything else offensively struggles. You could take a stellar O-line and average skill players and probably whip a team of highly skilled players with a weak offensive line everything else defensively being the same.

    It's hard to run or pass when your RB can't get past the line of scrimmage and your QB is on his arse or running for his life on every play. You want to knock Gus, then that's a good place to start. He's also a little stubborn in his play calling.

    If the inside run isn't working then go to something else and maybe come back to it much later when it would be unexpected. Is that Gus or is it Lindsey? Funny how when it succeeds it's the OC but when it fails it's Gus.

    Gus also has trust issues. If someone makes a mistake (fumble, int, etc) he gets severely reprimanded and his activity gets reduced. Example: RB fumbles – might not see the field for games or the rest of the season, QB throws an int – no more throws to the middle of the field ever. These things are detrimental because someone in fear of making a mistake can't play with the controlled abandon needed to be successful as a QB or a skill player. There, that's my Gus bashing. Now go get'em boys and you too Gus. War Eagle!

    • dyingculture dyingculture says:

      It’s true, you know: Auburn wins only the games that the opposing coach lets us win. For instance, did you know that Les Miles let the clock run down on purpose last time he played us? It’s true and the clock “mismanagement” wasn’t a mistake. Miles was getting up there in years, he was ready to quit and he had his eye on a contract buyout. He and Gus had a secret agreement that LSU would throw the game to benefit Gus, because both coaches were on the ropes.

      Handshake agreements and secret side deals happen all the time in the SEC.

  11. easyedwin easyedwin says:

    easyedwin says:
    November 5, 2018 at 7:03 pm
    Look. We are not going to be successful running the ball against our last 3 opponents. We have very talented receivers that are fast, tall and capable. We are not going to bench JS for Willis or any one else. Soo…..sling it! Run qb draws. Mix Flash in on a sweep. Get the UgA defense back on their heels. Make them place their hands on their belts because they are gassed. DO NOT LET UP for a single play. ATTACK! ATTACK! ATTACK! [coach Thompsons theme]. No one is expecting Auburn to give UgA a game. Soo…..BLITZ! BLITZ! BLITZ! Put a hurting on Fromm. Sack, strip, fumble and touchdown. We know Auburns defense is capable of all these things.
    Because what do we have to lose? Because this is AUBURN!

  12. easyedwin easyedwin says:

    There. I said it again. /\

  13. easyedwin easyedwin says:

    They did not call Pittsburgh BLITZBURG for nothing!!!!

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