Chizik To Evaluate Program From Top To Bottom

Auburn Coach Gene Chizik talks about evaluating the program, the coaches, offense, and much more.

Auburn, Ala.—With an up and down regular season in the books the Auburn Tigers (7-5) will now wait and see where they wind up in the bowl pecking order after a 42-14 loss to Alabama on Saturday. Plenty of questions abound for Coach Gene Chizik's team on both sides of the ball and he said the first order of business is to evaluate everyone from players and coaches to managers and trainers.

"We were 14-0 last year and I did the same thing," Chizik said. "We were 8-5 the year before and I did the same thing. In my seat, I don't think that's anything unusual. That's what you always have to do to keep moving forward. I assessed everybody and every single person in this program when we were 14-0 and I'll do the same thing this year as well, including myself. We're always trying to look for a better way and a better result. We'll assess that and at the end of the day we'll do what we think is best for Auburn."

There has been much speculation that coaching changes are forthcoming for Auburn's staff in the next few months with Gus Malzahn a candidate for head coaching positions at several schools. Chizik said no matter what happens with his staff he'll be prepared to deal with it when the time comes.

"There are going to be guys who are going to be sought after as head coaches, there are going to be all kinds of different variables, but I've always placed a very high amount of importance on staff continuity," Chizik said. "But at the end of the day, guys have to do what they think is best for them and their families, just like I have had to do for my whole career. Again, some guys will have opportunities, some won't, but again they will do what is in the best interest of their families.

"I haven't really given it a lot of thought," he added. "Typically, when there are changes they all happen at different times. So I've got a plan in place for however it happens and whether that's early or late."

Offensively the Tigers failed to score a touchdown against Alabama and scored more than 17 points just twice in the last eight weeks (Ole Miss and Samford) after scoring 42, 41, 24, and 30 in the first four games. A myriad of problems have plagued Auburn from poor quarterback play to a struggling offensive line and injuries, but Chizik said he believes in what they are doing on that side of the ball and they have to just get much better. He said that the quarterback position gets all the credit and all the blame

"It can be an extremely effective offense moving the football, running the football," Chizik said. "You asked specifically about the quarterback position. Any offense is going to be more productive … if you don't have that epic quarterback but you're surrounded by a lot of great players with a lot of experience -- the quarterbacks have a chance in this league to be successful. If you are not surrounded by a lot of great players and your quarterback is not an epic quarterback, they may struggle because of the nature of defenses in this league.

"We're always trying to get the best quarterback we can get. We'll continue to do that. That's where you can pretty much start no matter what type of offense you're in. You start there. It doesn't mean your offense can't be great without a great quarterback. In this league, in my opinion, if you have a quarterback that's not a great quarterback but he's surrounded by a lot of really, really good players with a lot of experience, you can still have a lot of success with that."

With one more chance to finish on a high note this season in a bowl game Chizik said it won't erase the taste of the disappointments they had this season. He said Friday's lopsided LSU win over Arkansas goes to show you that too many mistakes can lead to a rough ending no matter how talented you may be. For his team it means the task at hand is to improve as much as possible and try to win game number eight.

"I don't think, regardless of how you did in the other games, any time you get beat against a Georgia and an Alabama, very unfavorably like we did, obviously it's very disappointing," Chizik said. "You've got to keep in perspective that the losses we did have that were lopsided came against very good football teams. You take the No. 1 team in the country and the No. 3 team in the country (Arkansas and LSU), and you make mistakes on the road against great teams, that's the result you get.

"That was the No. 1 team against the No. 3 team. In our case, we said it from the beginning: Our margin of error is very small. The bottom line is when we've played in those games and they've been lopsided, we've done things that we can't do and win games: turn the ball over, give up big plays on defense. It's very disappointing, and when you play in games against those good of teams, that's the result. We're going to take all of those things and we're going to grow from it. We're going to learn from it. We're going to use those things to move forward and get better."

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Chizik said he's hoping to see some new faces on the field when the Tigers line up for bowl practices in two weeks following some time off for final exams. One of those is redshirt freshman linebacker Kris Frost. After having surgery on his shoulder Chizik said they're hoping to get a look at him to see what he can do.

That's a good question because we haven't seen him play yet – he never made it to the practice field," Chizik said. "So we don't really know. We know he's a great athlete and he's got the ability to probably play anywhere at those linebacker positions that we want. That's going to be a great evaluation process for us this spring with him."

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