Malzahn making his way to Auburn
``Gus is one of the great offensive minds in college football and we are very excited to having him join the Auburn staff,” Chizik said. ``His track record at all levels of coaching is remarkable and his offenses have been extremely successful both running and passing the ball. It’s truly impressive that he oversees an offense that is in the top 10 nationally in all five major offensive statistical categories. We’re looking forward to having Gus on board."
WHO IS GUS MALZAHN? He's a former high school coach from Springdale, Ark., who moved into college ball at Arkansas during the 2006 season. After one year with the Razorbacks, Malzahn left to run Tulsa's offense. That's where he is now. He is 43 years old.
WHAT DOES HE RUN? It's a spread offense in spirit. Malzahn likes to spread the field, run wide, run inside, pass quickly at times. It has a spread pace. This is not a passing offense. It's a blend, though Malzahn's Tulsa teams ran the ball far more often than they passed. This is the most run-oriented strain of spread offense.
SO IT'S SHOTGUN STUFF? Yes, in some ways. Shotgun is a common formation, but the backs are used more creatively than what you saw with Tony Franklin's offense. You'll see backs in motion, end arounds, more driving runs between the tackles. There is an emphasis on quick reads and quick passes. It moves at a quick pace once the ball is snapped.
Malzahn also liked to use the team's quickest wideout, A.J. Whitmore, in Tulsa's version of the "Wildcat" formation. That's one of the new trends in football -- using a skill-position guy at quarterback occasionally. Malzahn was doing that with Darren McFadden during his Arkansas days as well. He wasn't the first coach to use that formation, but he brought it back to the mainstream in 2006.
Many fans know the formation from watching the Miami Dolphins run it so successfully this season with former Auburn tailback Ronnie Brown. That system was installed by the Dolphins' quarterbacks coach, David Lee. He worked with Malzahn at Arkansas.
BUT JAY, I HATE THE SHORT PASSING GAME: That shouldn't be an issue with Malzahn. He likes throwing deep. His 2007 quarterback, Paul Smith, was the first quarterback in college history to throw for at least 300 yards in 14 consecutive games. You don't generate those kinds of numbers by throwing screen passes. Tulsa's 2008 quarterback, David Johnson, didn't put up the same kinds of numbers. That's because the Golden Hurricane ran far more often.
Still, Johnson was throwing deep. Tulsa's receivers averaged 15.8 yards per catch this season. That's slightly more than when Smith went on his 300-yard binge in 2007.
Auburn's receivers, by comparison, averaged 10.8 yards per catch this season.
CAN I SEE THE NUMBERS? Absolutely.
Total plays: 1007
Run percentage: 61
Total plays: 1126
Run percentage: 50
*He inherited a senior quarterback who was highly efficient. Malzahn played to his team's strengths here.
Total plays: 841
Run percentage: 64
WAS THIS OFFENSE WORKING AT TULSA? Definitely. Take a look at how the Golden Hurricane ranked among the 119 NCAA Bowl Subdivision teams.
Rushing offense: 8th (255 ypg)
Passing offense: 7th (310 ypg)
Total offense: 2nd (565 ypg)
Scoring offense: 2nd (47.4 ppg)
Photo credit: Arkansas Times