1. Has ‘hurry-up-and-run’ run its course?
Auburn faces a ton of tough questions in 2016, but none as big as: Has “hurry-up-and-run” run its course? That phrase has been definitive of the Malzahn era in Auburn. His offenses are catered around going at break-neck speed and catching opposing defensive front sevens off guard with a pace reminiscent to a Chip Kelly Oregon Ducks/Philadelphia Eagles offense.
While it worked marvelously in 2010 when he was offensive coordinator and in 2013 as head coach, is Malzahn’s offensive philosophy still able to frustrate the solid, well-coached defenses of the SEC?
It will help if either Johnson, White, or even Franklin master Malzahn’s unique scheme. So much of Auburn’s success on the gridiron in 2016 will stem from the play of its quarterback. If ran to perfection, the Malzahn contract extension will look brilliant in hindsight and maybe offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee’s name will begin to surface as a serious head coaching candidate?
The only thing is that SEC defenses have appropriately adjusted to Malzahn’s unique brand of spread offense. Teams like Alabama, Ole Miss, and Georgia know what’s coming because those programs have seen it annually for three years now. Does Malzahn have a few new wrinkles waiting to unfold in this up-tempo, run-heavy offense of his or will it be more of the same redundancies in 2016?
Auburn is a program that thrives on momentum. When the Tigers rattle off an impressive winning streak, they can hang with and beat just about anybody. However, Auburn is a notoriously streaky program in the SEC, so it’s hard to gauge what type of team will show up in 2016.
Auburn does a great amount of damage when nobody expects much out of them and they won’t be favorites to win the SEC West in 2016. Malzahn will need to channel the nobody-believes-in-us mantra to not only justify Jacobs’ contract extension but to honestly keep him as the Tigers’ head coach for the 2017 NCAA season. He may have a new deal in place, but don’t let that fool you: Malzahn is still on the hot seat as the Auburn head coach.
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