For me one of the most exciting aspects of Gus Malzahn’s return to Auburn is that we should expect his teams to be effective running the football, something the Tigers struggled doing during the 2012 season. It won’t surprise me at all if they put an efficient running attack on the field this coming fall.
It also won’t surprise me if Tre Mason leads the Southeastern Conference in rushing for the 2013 season. Last year, with what the Tigers were doing on offense, every player at the line of scrimmage had to be blocked because based on formation defenders had a very good idea when the Tigers were going to run the football and when they were going to throw it.
That is an unbelievable advantage for the defense. The fact that Mason was still able to run for 1,000 yards last season with freshman offensive tackles and struggles at quarterback is impressive.
With the Tigers returning Malzahn’s system for the 2013 season, Mason is going to see good holes to run through. If you remember watching Auburn’s defense against Texas A&M’s offense last fall, the running backs had large holes to run through because the Aggies had the Auburn defenders spread out across the field.
The defense had to have someone assigned to take the quarterback in case he ran the ball on an option play, draw or scramble. It also had to have someone defend the pitch man on option plays while at the same time be prepared to defend pass plays.
That style of offense allows for a double-team block at the point of attack for the inside running game. When the Tigers do that during the 2013 season it will be a good thing for Mason and the other backs, but they won’t be the only ones to benefit.
If you watched the Tigers play during the 2012 season you would link the team only had one or two wide receivers worth throwing the ball to, but that wasn’t the case. I believe there are a half dozen guys in the receiver group with enough ability to step up and be successful in the SEC just like guys who did it previously in Malzahn’s offense like Darvin Adams, Terrell Zachery and Emory Blake.
Coach Malzahn’s running attack certainly will give the receivers opportunities to make plays. It’s a fun offense to play, it’s a fun offense for coaches to coach.
I also think his offense is a good one for recruiting skill players. You have still got to get the big uglies up front, and the better you are up there the better you are going to be everywhere, but to be successful running this offense you don’t have to have All Americans lining up at every position because the way it is run there are going to opportunities for the receivers to beat single coverage and make big plays plus opportunities for the running backs to get past the first level of the defense untouched with a chance to use their speed and moves to make big gainers.
In 2010 we saw what an impact Coach Malzahn’s offense can make on an SEC team. With the offense leading the way while overcoming a defense that was not great, the Tigers won all of their games on the way to winning the BCS National Championship.
(If you have a question or a subject you would like me to write about in future columns, you can email it to PatDye@autigers.com.)
Editor’s Note: This is part of a series of columns that College Football Hall of Fame member Pat Dye is writing for AUTigers.com about the game he played and coached. An All-American player at Georgia and one of the top head coaches in SEC history at Auburn, he also served as a head coach at East Carolina and Wyoming. Dye writes three columns for AUTigers.com--The Dye-Log, the Dye-Gest and Pat’s Picks.
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