Auburn Coaching Problems Revealed in OT Victory to FCS Team
Two weeks of college football and Auburn is undefeated. So why aren’t the orange and blue clad faithful dancing in the stands under the largest video board in any college football stadium? And why did Auburn’s ranking drop from sixth to eighteenth in the AP Top 25? Apparently Auburn Tigers Fans and the AP are underwhelmed by a team whose quarterback, Jeremy Johnson, completed as many passes to its opponents as Auburn star wide receiver, Duke Williams. There’s an old saying, a fish stinks from the head down. This continuously struggling football team may be revealing Auburn coaching problems on Gus Malzahn’s staff.
One thing we’ve learned about Auburn in the first two games, Auburn’s defense makes quarterbacks look electric. That includes Louisville true freshman QB Lamar Jackson and JSU QB Eli Jenkins. Coach Malzahn said it himself, following the close win over Louisville, “That freshman quarterback, he’s electric now,” Malzahn said. “He’s going to be tough to deal with.”
Don’t tell Gus, but in Louisville’s second game under constant pressure from Houston’s defense , Jackson was benched. Louisville Coach Bobby Petrino who put in their third string QB in the fourth quarter and still lost to Houston, 34 – 31. Houston was more productive on offense against Louisville than Auburn. Good thing Houston is not on the Auburn Tigers’ schedule.
In week two it took overtime and help from Jacksonville State head coach, John Grass, who managed to yank the agony of defeat straight from the arms of victory with bad play calling and poor clock management after four quarters of fielding a well-coached team, for Auburn to beat an FCS team that lives 100 miles from The Plains. To Everybody watching including the College Football Playoff Selectioin Committee, tying a paid-to-play opponent, JSU, 20 – 20, at the end of regulation play is as good as a loss for Auburn.
The eyeball test revealed more problems than improvement from week one to week two and were seen extra-largely on the new 190 X 57 foot in-stadium videoboard by those 87,451 in attendance. Which provoked this tweet:
Maybe Auburn should have spent less money on its video board and more money on a worse opponent.
— Tom Fornelli (@TomFornelli) September 12, 2015
Not as Advertised
This 2015 Auburn team was supposed to be different than 2014. After losing four of its last five games and closing the season 4 – 4 in the SEC, Gus Malzahn brought in a forklift to repair his ailing defense, replacing defensive coordinator, Ellis Johnson, with Florida’s former Head Football Coach, Will Muschamp. Muschamp was bringing back a defensive swagger to Auburn that hasn’t existed since Auburn Athletic Director, Jay Jacobs, bounced former Auburn Football Head Coach Tommy Tubberville in 2008. A new quarterback, Jeremy Johnson, was touted to be Nick Marshall2.0, a guy groomed in Malzahn’s system for two years, who can make all the throws with an NFL arm. Coach Malzahn compared Jeremy Johnson’s body size and running speed to Cam Newton. This is a QB that head football Coach Gus Malzahn said he could “open up the complete play book too.”
But Gus may be onto something. Auburn’s defense makes quarterbacks look “electric” and that must include their own, on the practice field, Jeremy Johnson. At an after practice presser, Auburn Defensive Coordinator, Will Muschamp said,
“Jeremy Johnson can throw a ball through a car wash and not get it wet.”
Really? Where is that taking place? Against the Muschamp defense at practice, of course. After witnessing Johnson throw three interceptions against Louisville in Week One and two interceptions against Jacksonville State on Week Two, Auburn fans haven’t seen a glimpse of the pre-season hyped and potential Heisman Trophy finalist QB. The only place Muschamp could be seeing Johnson completing these passes is at practice against his defense, which could be called “the broken car wash.”
Auburn Supposed to Win the SEC, Right?
Auburn was predicted by the SEC Media during their Media Days in Hoover, AL, to win the SEC. From the performance in the first two games Auburn coaching problems at quarterback play and in the defensive secondary are not getting it done to win a single SEC game. Not to say they can’t improve. Cam Newton’s first 100 yard rushing game at Auburn did not come until his fifth game as Auburn Quarterback against Ole Miss.
Maybe they improve from week to week and that improvement is enough to get them to competing for championships, but right now they are getting torched, by teams that shouldn’t have a chance against Auburn. Across the two games, Auburn ran 132 plays and their opponents ran 170. Jeremy Johnson practices against Auburn every day and is lighting them up like a Christmas tree, just like the QB’s of Louisville and Jacksonville State did. A throw at practice against an Auburn defender that doesn’t even turn his head to see the ball, is a throw to a defender in the actual game – interception! That was evidenced by multiple pass interference calls, flags pulled, because the Auburn defenders weren’t turning to look at the ball. And Jeremy Johnson has not been coached to throw the ball out of bounds when he doesn’t have a play.
Don’t blame these problems on Jeremy Johnson. Gus Malzahn and Rhett Lashlee scripted game plans for both of these games and in the opener against Louisville they had Jeremy throwing long ball after long ball continuing to go for a home run play and it just wasn’t panning out. Typically coaches start a new quarterback with a run-heavy offense and short dink and dunk passing plays to get into rhythm and gain confidence before launching the ball down field. Jeremy Johnson has the size and speed and may have all the magic sauce to become a champion QB, but Gus Malzahn and Rhett Lashlee have too much confidence in him too soon and opened the paybook too early in the season. If they keep it up, Auburn coaching problems could lead to a new forklift showing up, but this time on the offensive coaching staff.
Auburn Coaching Problems Created The Perfect Storm
- Too much pre-season hype for a new quarterback spit out by Auburn Coaches to an advertisement dollar driven media that spun it into pure stupidity.
- Too much confidence in an inexperienced Quarterback, which resulted in calling the wrong offensive plays to start the season.
- An offense practicing against an inferior secondary.
A step backwards
Is it grim? Well, it kinda is. Even though it’s only two games they were not big games and should have been won handily. Auburn is Twelfth in the SEC for total defense, which is the wrong direction from their Ninth place standing at the end of last season. But perhaps what’s got everybody scratching their heads is they are also Twelfth in total offense, coming off a year where they finished Second in the SEC.
What can Auburn fans expect to see getting off The Gus Bus in Baton Rouge on Saturday, September 19, when Auburn takes on LSU at 2:30 pm? Is this the Auburn football team that will beat LSU in Death Valley for the first time since 1999? Or is this going to be the biggest embarrassment Auburn fans have seen since the 2014 Georgia game where Auburn was humiliated between the hedges, 34 – 7.
If they lose to LSU this weekend, it might be time to bring the dogs home and lock up the guns, because the hunt will be over.
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