Though he will base his game plans and playing calling on his personnel's strengths, Malzahn knows that achieving offensive balance is a primary key to offensive success.
Last year's Auburn offensive strength was a powerful running game, but it was also combined with a lethal pass offense. The 2010 Auburn team was No. 5 nationally in run offense and No. 1 in pass efficiency, obtaining a level of symmetry matched by no other offense in the country.
Procuring offensive balance has not always been easy for the Tigers, but when it happens Auburn has never had a losing season. Over the past 50 seasons Auburn has averaged rushing 140 yards per game while achieving a passing efficiency rating of at least 120 in 17 seasons, compiling an overall record of 163-43-1 in those years.
Of those 17 teams 11 finished with a winning percentage of 75 percent or better. Averaging 140 yards rushing per game with a 120 or better passing efficiency rating are not gaudy numbers to obtain, especially for an innovative coordinator like Malzahn. Under his direction the offense has reached those levels in 18 of 27 games.
Auburn's ability to reach 140 rushing yards and a 120.0 pass-rating during the same game has occurred more frequently under Malzahn (66.7 percent) than any other two-year period in school history. Over the past 50 seasons Auburn is 150-11-0 (.932) when reaching the "140-120" mark, including a 17-1 record under the guidance of Malzahn.
In his 69 games as a collegiate offensive coordinator, Malzahn's offense has reached this mark 46 times, compiling a record of 42-4. This also includes an impressive record of 25-1 coaching in the Southeastern Conference. Even with Auburn's rebuilding project on offense with eight starters to replace, reaching 140 yards rushing and a 120 pass rating shouldn't be a major endeavor for the 2011 offense.
Junior quarterback Barrett Trotter will be throwing passes for the Tigers this season.
Over the past five years Malzahn's offense has averaged 233.6 yards rushing per game along with a pass rating of 157.1. These lofty averages have allowed his offense to reach the "140-120" level in two out of three games with a 91 percent chance of winning the game when it happens.
A healthy combination of Michael Dyer, Onterio McCalebb and Tre Mason should be a solid foundation for Auburn's run offense, making the pass offense the pending concern. The good news is that Malzahn has proven to be a great quarterback coach, too, with his pass offense reaching at least a 120 pass rating in 48 of his last 55 games, doing so with four different starting quarterbacks.
Malzahn's last four starting quarterbacks have finished with an average national ranking of No. 7 in pass ing efficiency, a clear indicator his offense is quarterback friendly. This should be a comforting thought for Barrett Trotter, this season's Auburn starting quarterback, knowing that Malzahn has built all of his offenses around the strengths of his QBs, giving them the highest probability for success.
In the history of Auburn football the Tigers have fielded 11 teams that featured a 1,000-yard rusher and a quarterback with a 120 or better pass rating during the same season. Those 11 teams combined for a 108-28-1 record, which also includes a record of 55-1-0 since 1992.
With so many newcomers on offense in 2011, there is no way to predict just how steadily the offense will operate. If it can maintain Malzahn's normal level of offensive achievement, an 8-4 season regular season is highly feasible with the defense and special teams pushing the Tigers to nine or 10 victories in a best-case scenario.
One thing is for sure, Malzahn's offense has given his teams a high probability for success, keeping his them at least within seven points of the opponent in the final outcome of 61 of 69 games.
Yes, Auburn will be youthful in 2011, but that doesn't mean the Tigers won't be exciting to watch, especially on offense. This offense is designed to create big plays and the Tigers have their fair share of playmakers to make big gainers a regular part of Auburn games this fall.