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Malzahn’s System A Good One, But The QB Still Matters

Not knowing exactly who Auburn’s starting quarterback will be this fall — Clint Moseley, Barrett Trotter or true freshman Kiehl Frazier — a lot of Auburn supporters are saying that Gus Malzahn’s system is more important than the team’s choice of signal-caller.  And Malzahn’s scheme certainly thrived last year as the Tigers’ captured the national crown with a 14-0 record.

Here’s what Moseley says of his offensive coach’s system:

“What makes his offense different are the options he gives us as quarterbacks.  If you’re going to stop us on any play, it’s going to have to be a blown assignment on our part.  It’s going to take almost perfect defense.  Some of these plays, he’s got an answer for anything.  He gives us a great opportunity to be successful.”

No doubt.  But if one of the “options” presented is a quarterback draw in which the QB has to bull his way over and through linebackers… will Moseley, Trotter or Frazier be able to duplicate Cam Newton’s amazing ability?

Malzahn has had great success over the years including what would be a career-capping season for most coordinators in 2010.  But once inside the SEC, Urban Meyer’s system looked better with Tim Tebow on the roster than it did before or after him.  The same could be true of Malzahn sans Newton.

Last season, Auburn scored 24 or fewer points in just two of nine SEC contests.  The Tigers averaged a hard-to-fathom 40.2 points per game against SEC defenses.  Final league mark: 9-0.

But in 2009 with Chris Todd in the quarterback role, Auburn scored 24 or fewer points in five of eight SEC games.  They averaged just 25.0 points per game and finished with a conference record of just 3-5.

So were those extra 162 points versus SEC foes in 2010 more a product of “an extra year of study in Malzahn’s offense” or of “the Cam Newton effect?”  I think most would agree Newton was the bigger difference.

That’s not to say Auburn can’t succeed offensively in 2011.  But the wise fan remembers that transcendent athletes are hard to replace.  Georgia wasn’t the same after Herschel.  The 1980s Auburn Tigers weren’t the same after Bo.  And Florida wasn’t the same after Superman. 

Malzahn’s system or not, it’s hard to picture the Tigers being as prolific on offense post-Newton.

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