The Gus Bus in for repairs…
"Is that Jay Jacobs watching as the Gus Bus tries to get going?"
image by WarEagle3020
So with the news that redshirt freshman, Sean White will be the starting quarterback Saturday, confirmation has come that the Gus Bus is leaking some oil, and smoke is starting to appear a little bit; leaving a bewildered fan base questioning what has happened to this highly potent offense.
Is this the end of the genius mind of Gus Malzahn? Is he panicking by switching quarterbacks? Have all his tricks been figured out by the other side now? I don’t think so. Coach Malzahn didn’t all of the sudden forget how to coach. He still has a plan and wants to drive that plan forward, and I believe he can do it successfully, but switching quarterbacks isn’t going to be the quick fix to do the job.
Many believe the Gus Bus is having some serious mechanical failures that need to be fixed immediately before this bus is driven into the ditch. So with that in mind let’s look at the engine of this Gus Bus and see what needs adjustment beyond just switching to a new QB.
The Timing Chain: In this kind of system, when things go bad, it is magnified ten times more than if it was just a pro-style offense. Coach Malzahn has made it clear in his interviews that there is one word that defines the success or failure of his schemes: timing. This team doesn’t have it yet. Coach Malzahn after the LSU game made no bones about it, “We just didn’t play well. We were out of sync. Everything was out of sync in the first half.” Receivers were out of sync with the QB, the offensive line was out of sync with the play calling, the blocking was out of sync, the running backs, even the quarterback’s feet were out of sync, and on and on. If this Gus Bus is going to move forward, the timing chain needs to be adjusted. Everybody has to do their job on time for this system to be effective.
Gas Mileage: The next issue that Coach Malzahn addressed is that the offense needed to sustain drives… for the defense’s sake! Yes, forget about quick scores, the Gus Bus needs to adjust some things to get better gas mileage, so it can go further. Say what you want about the defense “appearing” inept. I don’t think they are as bad as everyone is saying. Young yes, but not bad. But when a defense has to stay on the field because the offense can’t prolong drives, no matter how stout you are, it will wain. The offense has to conquer …
the third downs with some consistence. When your punter is the key component in your offense, then boy, do you have a problem. Consider this, in last year’s 41-7 win over LSU, Auburn put up 247 total yards in just the first quarter! This year…32 yards total in the first quarter. Auburn gained 160 yards on the ground eventually, but their leading rusher was the quarterback, who was running for his life on 41 of those 160 yards on one play. Which brings us to the next mechanical issue on the Gus Bus.
Horsepower: Auburn’s offense is based on running the football. Don’t be fooled by all the fancy play calling. Running backs are the horsepower that drives the Gus Bus. Roc Thomas, Peyton Barber, and Stanton Truitt rushed for 37 yards, 34 yards, and 24 yards, respectively. Redshirt freshman Kerryon Johnson rushed for 14 yards, and let’s also note that big man Jovon Robinson carried two times for 4 meaningless yards.
The offensive line just could not create the holes and make the blocks to allow the running backs to go down the field. Sean White will not be able to gain confidence in throwing the ball if the running attack cannot get short yardage needed on first and second downs. Running back U has sputtered, and the pistons need to get going again. Next, we turn to the spark plugs of excitement to complement the horsepower.
Spark Plugs: Expectations of talented wide receivers have for most purposes been deflated. When the quarterback is your leading rusher in the game, and your running back is the leading receiver in the game, you think you are in the twilight zone or something. Ricardo Louis had 2 yards total gain, Duke Williams had 19 yards, and Melvin Ray had 9 yards. It is the receivers that send a bolt of lighting to the field by getting in space to make some key plays. One big catch can set the stage, put the defenses on their heels and ignite the Gus Bus with horsepower running backs to get down the field.
There needs to be some motivation from these receivers. A spark is all it takes to get the motor running, and get the Gus Bus Driving down the road. Word is, White can throw the long ball with accuracy, but the sideline needs to call some of those plays to keep the defenses honest. Will the play callers take a chance on throwing it out there in White’s first game as starter? Which brings us to the final issue, the steering wheel.
Steering Wheel: I heard Rhett Lashlee’s interview and listened to what all he said, but truth be told, it was all just a repeat of the one who is really driving this bus, Coach Malzahn. He knows he is the one who holds on to the steering wheel. In the last two postgame interviews, he has taken full responsibility. That’s fine. Will he be fired? No, absolutely not, so you might as well save your breath and delete your #firethecoach rants. Malzahn is here for a while simply because Jay Jacobs can’t afford to fire him. Muschamp, Lashlee, etc. are not as protected,, though and if things don’t start running smoothly on the Gus Bus, some people may be getting off at the next stop.
My biggest problem with the coaching is probably more my fault than theirs. I bought in to all the media hype and biased talk about how talented our team and coaching staff would be. I heard the coaches talk about how impressed they were in the spring and summer practices and believed them (as if they would tell us things weren’t that good). I listened to all the pundits say that we would be the best in the west and maybe even further. All this I believed and left the facts behind that this team was young, inexperienced in key positions, learning new schemes, working with new coaches, etc.
Maybe you can come up with some mechanical problems as well. I welcome your input in the comments below. Is this season over already? Has the Gus Bus gone into the ditch permanently? No. I refuse to sell my bus ticket no matter what. This next week will be a pivotal week, no doubt, as to how rough the road may be for the bus. My advice, pop the hood this week, make some adjustments, look at every position and above all, someone please make sure the brake isn’t on when we play next Saturday!
All Aboard and War Eagle.