Auburn coach Gene Chizik spoke on today’s SEC coaches teleconference, and earlier in the day, I chatted with his offensive coordinator, Gus Malzahn, over the phone. Both sounded the same theme: Despite beating Louisiana Tech, 37-13, on Saturday, and racking up 556 total yards in the process, the Tigers have a ton of room for improvement on offense. Malzahn said he wants to see his troops speed things up.
“Just our pace. There’s times that we want to speed it up, and last week at times we weren’t doing a very good job of it,” he said. That was echoed by Chizik, who also said, “Things aren’t always as good as they seem, and they aren’t always as bad as they seem. We look at the total execution of our football team, we’re not pleased with everything. But there were some really good amount of bright spots.”
Much has been made of Malzahn’s offensive IQ, and I’ll be writing more about that later in the week. He’s installing a version of the spread at Auburn, the kind that worked so well at Arkansas and Tulsa. He calls it a “run play-action” offense, and it should be noted that Auburn ran for 301 yards against Louisiana Tech.
“We have to run the football to open up the pass,” Malzahn said.
The Tigers were led by freshman Onterio McCalebb‘s 148 yards on 22 carries. Chizik was happy to see that, but he warned against pumping the kid up too soon. When asked if McCalebb has what it takes to eventually be an every-down back, Chizik replied, “We’re not going to put a whole lot of stock into a guy that rushed for 100-some-odd yards one time. If you do it six or seven (games) in a row, now you’ve got our attention.”
Chizik was also asked about his quarterback, senior Chris Todd. “The advantage we have with Chris is that he has played college football, and he’s been under a couple of different systems, but he’s got a little bit of a maturity factor in there that certainly gives us a little bit more flexibility with him to do some different things. We’re never going to do more than the quarterback can do.”