Once upon a time, I thought I knew what people meant when they spoke of a balanced offense, at least sort of. There’s the old Mike Bobo version of balance, where you start squirming when your run/pass ratio gets out of whack, and there’s the Mike Leach definition, where balance is about spreading the ball around to your playmakers as opposed to worrying about whether that’s accomplished by running or passing. In any event, the point to being balanced is that you’re trying to prevent a defense from keying in and making your offense one-dimensional and thus supposedly easier to stop.
Now we can add to that balance, Gary Danielson style. Danielson has famously struggled to come to terms with the success of the spread offense. What to say about the success Auburn is having running the ball this season, so much so that it’s ignoring the passing game like a Paul Johnson wannabe? Well, hey, you can chalk that up to a mutant vision of balance.
“Let’s talk about Auburn and the word balance,” Danielson said. “Alabama really strives for balance. They believe in it. They believe it makes them better at the other part of it. When they’re running it, they think it makes them better at passing. When they’re passing, they think it makes them better at running.“But Auburn’s definition of balance is different. They’re definition of balance is you have to be balance(d) enough to what the defense is giving you. And they believe they can run the ball enough almost in a wishbone-esque way that when they have to throw the ball they can do it and they’re good enough to do it.“But they don’t have to do it until (the defense) tells them they have to do it. That means committing so many men to the run game that the level of passing sophistication doesn’t have to be the same as Alabama’s, LSU’s or Georgia’s. They can throw it differently.”
Ho-kay. That just strikes me as doing what a good offensive coordinator should do, which is figuring out the matchups that favor your team the most and exploiting them until the defense stops them. That’s no small thing, as anybody who’s read this post and agrees with me can attest. But balance? Eh. Going into today’s game, the Tigers are running the ball 71.2 percent of the time, less often than only New Mexico, Air Force, Georgia Tech, Army and Navy. As that linked article indicates, they’re running at that level because they’re doing it very, very well and their opponents aren’t able to stop it.
Yeah, I know Marshall won the Mississippi State game at the end with his arm. But that’s not where Auburn is right now. What I can’t figure out is what happens if Georgia’s defense forces Auburn to become less reliant on the running game. There’s a balance that’s a little mysterious to me right now. And maybe a little scary, too. Perhaps the best thing that the Dawgs handle the run and Malzahn stays too stubborn too long by sticking with it. The problem with that is that he’s too good a playcaller not to adapt.