Changes in Auburn offense apparent during A-Day, but Tigers mixed in some of the old stuff, too
by Joe Medley
jmedley@annistonstar.com
Apr 17, 2012 | 7767 views |  0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
AUBURN — Fans who attended Auburn’s A-Day game expecting to see a vastly different offense came away scratching their heads.

Yes, the Tigers huddled. That’s new and expected.

Yes, Auburn’s quarterbacks were under center more, compared to almost never under center when former coordinator Gus Malzahn called the plays.

But they were also in the shotgun a lot.

There were several running plays that looked like the old read option, the staple play in Malzahn’s system.

And quarterback Kiehl Frazier, who beamed earlier this spring about having fewer quarterback runs, ran a few out of that shotgun, read-option set.

In many respects, Auburn’s offense under new coordinator Scot Loeffler resembled what it replaced in public view Saturday, and maybe it shouldn’t be a shock. He did the spread thing while Florida’s quarterbacks coach.

“Whenever he was at Florida with (Tim) Tebow, they did quite a few of those quarterback run things,” Frazier said. “I think that we’ll integrate that in a little bit.”

Much of the talk surrounding Auburn’s offense during spring practice involved quarterbacks playing under center and the Tigers going to more of a pro-set style. That’s what Loeffler ran in his one year as a coordinator, at Temple in 2011.

It also seemed to fit the stated desire to return to a more physical style of offense and play more to the Tigers’ defense, which clearly struggled during the Malzahn years of no-huddle, fast-paced spread offense that wore down opposing defenses but caused Auburn’s defense to spend more time on the field, as well.

Much of Auburn’s work during spring, including Monday’s final practice, occurred out of public view, making A-Day the one public scrimmage. Coaches typically don’t show much during spring games, so maybe one shouldn’t read much into what happened in Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday.

But it was striking to see how much of what Auburn showed offensively diverged from what was discussed during spring practice. There was still plenty of the old.

When hired, Loeffler did say he would evaluate his personnel and run what would work, and Auburn recruited to Malzahn’s system over the past three years. The Tigers’ quarterbacks were raised on no-huddle, spread systems.

They also have no bruising, Ronnie Brown-style tailbacks that pound away with 230-pound frames. Auburn’s biggest tailback lists at 209 pounds.

Loeffler also said he’d run the “Auburn offense,” which seemed to indicate marriage to no particular system.

Formations did look different Saturday, and there was pre-snap motion, reminding a little of the Al Borges days. There has been talk all spring about new language and longer play calls.

But when the ball was snapped, one often saw Auburn’s quarterbacks in shotgun, and they ran some spread-look stuff.

“I don’t know what Coach Loeffler is planning, what percentage of under center and shotgun,” Frazier said Saturday. “Hopefully, it’s kind of like today.”

Either way, Loeffler said, don’t be surprised.

“We’re going to be a multiple offense,” he said. “We’re going to have the ability to be under center and in the shotgun and have multiple different schemes.”

Joe Medley is The Star’s sports columnist. He can be reached at 256-235-3576. Follow on Twitter @jmedley_star.

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