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Rue's Rant on College Sports in Alabama


September 13, 2009 11:18 PM

In Gus, Auburn trusts



It’s still early and the competition is nowhere close to being among the elite of college football, but still the Auburn Tigers’ offense has been crazy good in their first two games.

How good? Well, Auburn has surpassed 500 yards of total offense in back-to-back games for the first time since 1970.

The Tigers’ 589 yards in their 49-24 blowout of Mississippi State Saturday night eclipsed the 556 they chalked up in their season-opening 37-13 rout of Louisiana Tech.

"It was pretty amazing," said Auburn “Wildcat” quarterback Kodi Burns after the Tigers’ runaway victory against Mississippi State. "It was fun."

Fun for Burns because he accounted for four touchdowns, three rushing and one passing.

Fun because Auburn is averaging 572.5 yards total offense and 43.0 points.

Fun because Gene Chizik had the good sense to hire Gus Malzahn as the Tigers’ offensive coordinator for his inaugural season as Auburn’s head coach.

In Gus, they trust.

“It’s very innovative, and it’s fun to watch,” Chizik said of the warp-speed spread attack Malzahn brought to Auburn from Tulsa. “From a defensive background, it’s problematic in a lot of ways.”

No kidding. You don’t know what the creative Malzahn might draw up on the board – reverses, options, slants, screens, draws and other stuff you wouldn’t believe anybody would try. Every possession is treated like a two-minute drill in Malzahn’s hurry up, no huddle system with an array of formations designed for deception.

The Tigers aren’t pass-happy in Malzahn’s spread offense. Against Mississippi State, the Tigers ran for 390 yards. Ben Tate, despite sitting out the first quarter because of -- um -- a coach’s decision, ran for a career-high 157 yards and a touchdown and Onterio McCalebb added 114 yards and a score. It marked the first time in Auburn history two players rushed for more than 100 yards in consecutive games.

Chizik isn’t surprised. "You hear so much about the passing, but what caught my eye is how (Malzahn) brings a physical edge to everything he does," Chizik said. "This is a rushing offense. It comes at you directly -- whether it's a run or a pass. That's who we are."

Malzahn expected Auburn to run the ball effectively. “We knew that our front five, we knew that they were a solid offensive line, and we knew we had some backs who could be change of pace,” Malzahn said. “And so far they’ve really bought in to what we’re doing.”

Plus, Malzahn keeps some tricks up his sleeves just so things don’t get dull. “Yeah, we try to tell our guys, that’s part of our offense,” Malzahn said of the trickery. “Not a lot of people think of trick plays and all that, but we work on them every day. That’s part of what we do, and our guys are starting to get a little used to that.”

Auburn fans no doubt are already getting used to the Tigers running up big numbers in Malzahn’s system.

Talk about fun.

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