Keep it simple, stupid.
… Malzahn had no coaching tree pedigree so he learned by watching high school coaches, particularly Arkansas legend Barry Lunney Sr.
As a third-year coach at Hughes High School, Malzahn had between 200 and 300 plays. Lunney advised him to pick three or four, get them to where the players could run them perfectly, and then add another play in year four.
“That’s some of the best advice I’ve ever got,” Malzahn said. “After that I went back to basic football. Even though today everybody thinks we have a lot of plays, we really don’t have that many. But we try to use window dressing, unusual formations and pace.”
How basic is Auburn’s offense today? Malzahn said it has only about four base run concepts and six base pass concepts, with wrinkles off each one.
And yet it’s adaptable. What Malzahn runs with Newton isn’t what he ran with Chris Todd at quarterback last year, or at Tulsa or at Arkansas before that. That’s the high school background coming out in Malzahn.
“You’ve got to adapt to survive and win in high school,” Malzahn said. “The fact that I’ve had five different quarterbacks in college each year is a little bit different. Somewhere down the line, I’d like to have a guy back. My job might be a little easier if I have a guy back his second year.”
You’d think this would be fairly obvious. I never understood why former NFL coaches like Bill Callahan thought the complex West Coast offense would translate well on the college level, where players’ careers are short and the amount of time spent on coaching players is limited. What you want is familiarity. From that you get better execution and from that you get players able to make plays faster, which puts pressure on a defense.
“You cannot relent on the tempo,” Hand said. “When you first install some of this stuff, you’ve got to understand it’s going to be very ugly early. We used to say you have to coach in short verbal blasts.
“It’s not like you’re going to have 35 seconds to make your point. The execution is eventually going to catch up to the speed. Now, when you combine the tempo with the execution, then it’s a beautiful thing. That’s where Chip and Gus are at.”
The one common thread through that article is Rich Rodriguez. He didn’t make a great head coach at Michigan, but he may be the most influential offensive mind impacting present day college football.