Gus knows how to KISS.

I think Malzahn is a good coach.  Here’s a basic reason why I believe that.

Head coach Gus Malzahn said the one-sidedness in his play calling hasn’t struck him as strange, citing his background as a high school coach, where being able to adapt to the skill set of the roster is paramount.

“It’s just whatever you do best, you need to build around that,” he said. “That’s kind of what we’re doing best right now.”

Though many like to draw comparisons to what Marshall is doing now to the things Cam Newton did during the 2010 campaign, Malzahn said the offense Auburn is fielding this year has its own iterations that set it apart.

“The first year, no matter whether it was Chris Todd or Cam Newton or Nick Marshall, the core of who we are foundation-wise didn’t change,” he said. “We just build around the strengths of our quarterback.”

There are a lot of college coordinators who never learn that lesson.  Or learn it too late.

One thing I’m curious about is Malzahn giving credit to his high school background as the reason for his success.  Clemson’s Chad Morris is another guy who’s transitioned his high school work into the college game at a high level.  I’m sure there are plenty of coaches who didn’t make the leap successfully, but is there any data out there to suggest that college offensive coordinators who come from the high school ranks do better on average than others?


Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands, Strategery And Mechanics

43 responses to “Gus knows how to KISS.

  1. Piper

    art briles too

  2. uglydawg

    One diminsional may cut it if you have Cam…who could throw it around pretty well too. But how’s that working out for GT, who is planned and purposely unbalanced? Yes, you have to play your strengths and I’m sure Malzhan will try to install more balance between the passing and running games as he recruits and develops quarterbacks.
    It’s natural and wise to “play to your strengths” as he is doing. It’s working out well for him so far this year. I hope it backfires on him Saturday. He MUST be over there working on the passing game some this week, isn’t he?

    • I think that’s a bad analogy, to be honest. Malzahn’s run successful passing attacks and he’s run successful running attacks. Todd and Marshall have very disparate skill sets – not to mention talent levels – but Gus fashioned working offenses around both of them.

      Johnson runs the triple option. He may tweak it a little bit, but basically he’s looking for QB’s who can operate what he runs, as opposed to building an offense around what his QB’s strengths are.

      • uglydawg

        I don’t disagree. I wasn’t clear..I mean that Gus…if given the choice, would probably choose a balanced attack and a QB who can run it well…whereas PJ (who I admittedly interjected into this subject because I just can’t resist any opportunity to take a stab at him) would choose the runner. I agree GM’s a good coach…but I hope he loses some of his luster this Saturday.

    • TomReagan

      It’s not that they don’t have or don’t work on the passing game. Another of Malzhan’s KISS strengths is that, they run until you stop it. It just so happens that the other team couldn’t stop it the last couple of weeks.

  3. Ginny

    I have to wonder though how many kids are going to be turned off by the lack of NFL preparation this current system provides. I know Cam’s situation would state otherwise, but he’s a once and a lifetime kind of player…and he can throw that ball. When your quarterback is only attempting 10 passes in 6 games, that can’t be a good sign for NFL scouts. Maybe it won’t matter to recruits but I have a feeling it will in the long run.

    • lamontsanford

      See also Paul Johnson’r stellar NFL draft history.

    • Macallanlover

      Good point but I think there are so many HS teams running a spread attack that he will have no problem finding QBs that Auburn will be the best choice for them and they will not compete with UGA, Bama, LSU, etc. for the pro style guys we are after. Same GT and Clemson, we don’t go head to head with them and that is the same reason we got Murray over Florida when Corch was there.

  4. AusDawg85

    I’m often glad Bobo recognized Murray’s strength in handing-off to undersized backs on dive plays in 2nd and long situations.

    • Macallanlover

      Boom! Can’t argue that we run the ball often in that situation and leave the 3rd down pressure on AM and the recivers. Fortunately they are pretty good at converting those, more than I would have thought.

      • AusDawg85

        Uh, Mac…we are 69th in the country in 3rd down conversions at just under 40%. Lots of reasons why we are so poor this year, but that’s not “pretty good”. Just saying.😉

        • Macallanlover

          Obbservation is based on how many 3rd and longs we convert. When we miss a pass on 1st down, dive for one up the middle, I am already ranting and cussing, expecting there to be no way we sustain the drive with them expecting the pass. Murray and the receivers surprise me more often than I ever expect. (Now I am just the opposite with opponents…I always expect them to convert 3rd and long.) Rankings have nothing to do with it, it is about expectations, and Larry trained me well.

  5. Otto

    I was saying the same back in ’10. Gus is a very good OC and adapts to what he has, going back before he arrived at Auburn. Tulsa wasn’t known for RBs. He also wins with 1st year QBs.

    As for AusDawg85’s comment, I do not think Bobo adapts anywhere near as well. He does thrive with very good to elite RBs but we have watched this season what happens when they are not there. Further ’06/’07 Moreno and then the decline that follow further shows the trend.

    • uglydawg

      Otto…I saw UGA beat LSU with a very limited Gurley….but we didn’t see “what happens when they are not there”…we saw “what happens when they are not there and all of your experienced recievers aren’t there”. There’s a big diff in losing your best running back and losing your best two running back and your recieving corp.. Subtract the same amount of the offense from any team on earth and see if they look the same..
      How many injuries would the offense have to have before people like you; accepted that it is a negative factor?….

    • Normaltown Mike

      Bobo didn’t take the reins on O until Auburn ’06 (the zone read game & signature win of that year) and then sealed his position with the Tech win.

      The real crime of ’06 was redshirting Moreno (a CMR decision). Even if only on punt and kick returns, Moreno would’ve made big impact on that team.

      • Bulldawg165

        Better yet, think about how much more of an impact he would’ve made in the SC game in 07 with a year of experience under his belt. That coulda been the difference between a win and a loss in that game, and we all know what happened at the end of the season because of our two losses instead of one…

        • AlphaDawg

          Which is why you should never redshirt talent that can contribute. The only reason to ever redshirt is injury, size(O-Line need to add weight) and obvious excessive depth(think this years RB/WR before the injuries). KM’s freshman year we had some good RB, but it was obvious to the coachs and player that KM was gonna be very good. Its frustrating to think about it.

          • Macallanlover

            True, the whole redshirting strategy has been transformed in CFB. Your examples are the only exceptions, except maybe injuries like Trammel. Bring’em in, train’em, let it rip. Playing freshmen has proven to be the better solution and the HS recruits are paying close attention to who does hold FR back, and who gives them a shot.

            • AlphaDawg

              Urgency is my one beef with Richt and Co, they always seem to be oh well, maybe next year. As soon as Marshall got hurt against TN I would have pulled the RS of Thurman and it would have been a 3 way competition between him BD and JJ. And honestly I wouldn’t have RS him in the 1st place if he could contribute on ST. Look at the RB coming in next year and theres no reson to RS any this year.

              • Mayor of Dawgtown

                If you redshirt the best ones are gone after their redshirt soph season anyway. See Moreno, Knowshon.

              • Macallanlover

                I thought there were other reasons with Thurman, injuries maybe. Otherwise, why use Green who slated for being a DB? Still makes the point, why redshirt anyone outsie the reasons above? Mayor, only a small percentage of players go pro early but a lot do not stay 4 or 5 seasons for other reasons.

    • Georgia vs Auburn 2011
      C. Thomas carries15 yards127 average8.5
      He was that small back that runs right up the middle. He did it that game. Bobo has run JJ Green between the guard and tackle for a couple of nice gains. I got frustrated last year against uT. Deep on own side of the field one trip up the middle after another. Even my bride exclaimed ” I DON”T BELIEVE WE JUST RAN IT UP THE MIDDLE AGAIN!” Kinda of funny afterwards. But at the time it was not.

      • sniffer

        Richt’s philosophy of offensive football is “we are going to impose our will on you. You either stop us or get beat.” Bobo’s play calls are consistant with that philosophy. I believe that’s why there seems to be liitle second half adjustment, on either side of the ball.

        “We’re Georgia, beat us if you can”.

        ps. yes, I know there are adjustments. But not to the philosophy.

    • W Cobb Dawg

      Agree Otto. Our offense must have a big, power RB that can make plays on his own. Take away that RB and the O is considerably poorer, regardless of whether we have the sec’s all time QB or not.

  6. adam

    I think HS coaches have more experience with teaching their offense and needing to explain it very clearly and simply, a constantly rotating roster (unlike the NFL), and having to change what they do to work with whoever is coming up. High schools (in general) do not recruit and have little say in the players who come into their programs. Thus, coaches must be able to adapt to survive.

    Malzahn is like Leach in that he can teach his system very quickly and very well. Then, the team executes the hell out of it. It’s a very good approach to offense. I think Malzahn is unquestionably a better offensive coach than Bobo, as understanding personnel is one of his biggest weaknesses. You have to put the players you have in the best possible position to succeed. Asking Nick Marshall to run a lot more than he throws is doing that. Asking JJ Green or Carlton Thomas to run between the tackles is not.

    • Bulldawg165

      “I think Malzahn is unquestionably a better offensive coach than Bobo…”

      Debatable, but Gus has nearly 10 years of experience on him. Bobo has developed and grown as an OC quite a bit in the past few years too.

      • Bulldawg165

        Let me just say, though, that the rest of your comment looks pretty spot on. Especially the first paragraph

  7. Bueller, Bueller, anyone….Is there any data that suggest that College Offensive Coordinators that come out of High Schools systems do better on average than others.? Cause, my Son is a great Offensive HS Coordinator.

  8. Todd

    But Dick Sam IV was used as a young 17 year old freshman.
    Good coaches get creative, sometimes by necessity. They need to be open minded and not get locked into a RB is a RB. It is like running Marshall up the middle. I believe you have to use him outside first, then bring him in between the tackles. Ifs and Buts……..if Bobo play called against Clemson like SC, then that would have been a W. I truly believe Bobo doesn’t have a Plan B in most cases. If you stop him, you got him. If you don’t, he will smoke your ass. The key is stop Bobo and he will go conservative, but then again what was the knock on Richt at FSU?

    • I don’t know what was the knock on CMR at FSU?
      “Under Richt’s direction, Florida State had some of college football’s most explosive offenses. In his seven years as offensive coordinator the Seminoles ranked in the nation’s top five scoring offenses on five occasions, were top twelve in total offense five times and top twelve in passing offense five times. The 2000 Seminoles offense finished the regular season ranked first nationally in total offense (549.0 yards per game), first in passing offense (384.0 ypg) and third in scoring offense (42.4 points per game).

      During his tenure as an assistant coach at Florida State, Richt coached two Heisman Trophy winning quarterbacks Charlie Ward and Chris Weinke respectively and was part of two national championships (1993 and 1999).[1]

      I know none of their fans ever broke down and cried. “Hijo” was that you?

      • Dog in Fla

        “I don’t know what was the knock on CMR at FSU?”

        Allow me to take a shot. FSU – back when they were never losing an ACC game – had fans that bitched and moaned about Richt as an OC so much that it makes what we say about Bobo look like absolutely nothing. Kind of like the gator fans bitching and moaning about Spurrier if he lost 2 or 3 games a year. FSU fans were so happy to see Richt leave for Georgia especially after he fouled up and lost 13-2 to Big Game Bob thereby giving a MNC to BGB while Richt was doing dual-duty as outgoing FSU OC and incoming Georgia coach. They somehow felt his offense was shutout. Soon when another Bowden, Jeff I think, took over as OC the FSU downward spiral started. It only took FSU over a decade to pull out of their tailspin so that was easy

        • Honestly, Bowden should have told CMR to start his new job instead of doing double duty and said, “If we win, we’ll make sure to send a national championship ring to you because you’ve been a big part of our success. Good luck and Godspeed, Mark.”