Malzahn: Time to Speed Things Up
Photo by Julie Bennett/al.com
Can it possibly be the start of spring practice? With the announcement yesterday morning of the hiring of Bruce Pearl as Auburn Head Basketball Coach, it didn’t seem much like opening day of football practice. Besides I still haven’t gotten Rod Bramblett’s voice out of my head and we’re about to start over again. But Auburn did hold its first practice of spring Tuesday.
And things are a little different this go around. For starters, ESPN brought live reports throughout the morning from Auburn. And this year its Gus Malzahn’s guys who’ll get the coveted Saturday afternoon ESPN slot for its A-Day Game – not Alabama.
But don’t expect Malzahn to sit around with Bruce Springsteen playing in the background while he reflects on the glory days.
“We’ve been really up front with our guys. We’re definitely proud of how far they came. That’s in the past. It’s a complete, new season. This is a new team,” Malzahn said. “We’ve got to earn it. All we’re talking about is earning the right to try to get back to a game like that (the national championship).”
In Monday’s pre-spring press conference, Malzahn seemed to poke his finger back into Nick Saban’s eye.
“We think we can be quite a bit faster,” Malzahn said.
Of course, he was referring to his HUNH offense that’s become the kryptonite to Saban’s future in Tuscaloosa. On a day when Malzahn was talking about moving faster, Saban continued to whine, this time to David Pollack of ESPN.
Again, Saban continued to use safety as his excuse for reducing the HUNH offense. He never commented on the dangers of his team facing the likes of Chattanooga, a team Alabama outweighed by more than 40 pounds across the offensive line. If he really cared, seems like that would be a good jumping off point.
If last season was like driving in the left-hand lane, this year should resemble the Autobahn. With eight starters back from last year’s record-breaking offense, including quarterback Nick Marshall, look for Auburn to significantly increase its play count.
Marshall is the first returning quarterback in Malzahn’s nine years as a college coach. Yes, it’s a scary thought.
While Auburn has been the face of the HUNH in the national media, surprisingly, there were five other teams in the SEC last season that ran as many or more plays from scrimmage each game, led by Ole Miss who averaged six more plays per contest than Auburn at 79.8 per game.
In fact, Auburn ranked only 61st nationally in that category last year. Malzahn is out to change that this year. You look at these stats and realize why Saban is so spooked.
And to think, he brought Lane Kiffin in to keep up. Spring has never felt so good.