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Malzahn: We Don’t Run “The Spread”

Don’t tell Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn that he’s running a spread offense.  Oh, sure, he’s got folks spread all over the field and the Tigers do work out of a shotgun, but it’s not a spread.

“We’re a two-back, run, play-action team with an emphasis on going fast and throwing the ball vertically down the field,” Malzahn said to ESPN.com.  “We go from the shotgun, which probably people think is the spread.  But we’ve got to run the football.  We have to run the football to be successful to open up the pass.”

“The spread, for whatever reason, a lot of people characterize that as throw to open up the run.  We’re completely different.”

For some reason, Malzahn has never liked having his offense referred to as a spread… as if all spread offenses are pass-first offenses.  That certainly wasn’t the case with Urban Meyer’s run-first spread offense at Florida.

Way back in April of 2009, Malzahn said: “A lot of people characterize what we do as a spread offense because we’ve been so efficient (at Tulsa) throwing the ball.  But everything we do starts with the run.”

Gene Chizik said at the time: “I think that’s kind of been the misnomer about his offense.  You can categorize it however you want.  But one of the first things out of Gus’ mouth each day is the need for physicality.  People can categorize the spread however they want, but at the end of the day, it’s going to be ‘Tailback U’ with a great vertical passing game.”

Clearly, whether Malzahn wants it called a spread or not, his offense has clicked in 2010.  And according to Chris Low of ESPN, the coach has never paid much attention to those folks who said his offense wouldn’t work in the SEC.

“I guess when you’re a high school coach and you come into college, you’re going to get questioned on everything you do,” Malzahn said.  “But you just can’t get wrapped up in that.  You’ve got to believe in what you do.  You can’t listen to outside things.”

True enough.  But you can count me as someone who still wonders if Malzahn’s offense will work long-term in the SEC.

People questioned Meyer’s offense when he came to Florida.  In his first season, he went 9-3 in Gainesville.  Then a fellow named Tim Tebow popped up and the Gators went 48-7 with two national title belts over the next four seasons.  Meyer’s offense was deemed a success.  But the Gators fell back to 8-5 after Tebow’s graduation.  The offense was a mess.

Last year, Malzahn’s offense started hot before the Tigers dropped five of their last six SEC games.  They scored 23, 14, 10, 33, 24, and 21 in consecutive league games.  That’s not exactly the kind of production we’ve seen from Cam Newton and company this year.

Auburn fans won’t like it, but we at MrSEC have instructed the jury to do a little bit more deliberating on Malzahn’s spre… sorry… Malzahn’s offense.

We bought into Meyer’s offense only to learn later that Tebow made the offense, not vice versa.  And we all might wind up saying the same thing about Newton and Malzahn’s offense after this season.

I believe former President Bush summed up my feelings best…



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