StatTiger: A Look at Loeffler

Stuart Carter analyzes what Auburn's new offensive coordinator, Scot Loeffler, did last season at Temple.

One of the tests Scot Loeffler had to pass before being hired by Coach Gene Chizik as Auburn's new offensive coordinator and quarterback coach was to demonstrate, in person, under questioning from the head football coach, his ability to evaluate game film and quickly analyze how to attack a defense.

The young coach had already developed a reputation for his knowledge of the game and teaching ability. Apparently Auburn's head coach came to the same concclusion after the interview process, hiring the former Temple offensive coordinator in January to make to the move to the SEC to replace Gus Malzahn.

Loeffler is a firm believer in being multiple on offense with the attack built around a strong running game. An additional benefit in the hiring of Loeffler was his previous experience developing quarterbacks, another quality Chizik was searching for in his next offensive coordinator.

The only obvious concern about the new hire is his lack of experience as a college offensive coordinator. However, with the improvements he made to the Owls' offense in just one season at Temple, Chizik clearly saw Loeffler as a coaching commodity on the rise.

Here are some of the improvements Loeffler made to the Owls' offense:

•Improved their running game from No. 67 in 2010 to No. 7 in 2011.

•Improved their pass efficiency from No. 65 in 2010 to No. 33 in 2011.

•Improved their third down percentage from No. 94 in 2010 to No. 20 in 2011.

•Improved their scoring offense from No. 79 in 2010 to No. 39 in 2011.

•Improved their red zone offense from No. 82 in 2010 to No. 35 in 2011.

•Improved their turnover ranking from No. 88 in 2010 to No. 3 in 2011.

•Improved their time of possession from No. 78 in 2010 to No. 11 in 2011.

•Improved their tackles for loss allowed from No. 63 in 2010 to No. 26 in 2011.

Most saw the remarkable improvement of the Temple offense in the running game, but Loeffler made major strides improving the passing game despite starting three different quarterbacks during the 2011 season as the numbers show. Here are some of those numbers:

•During the 2010 season the Temple offense averaged a 15-yard gain every 6.1 attempts in the passing game. The Owls improved to one every 4.7 pass attempts in 2011. Over the past 25 years only two Auburn pass offenses had a better ratio in plays of at least 15 yards.

•The Temple pass offense averaged a play of at least 30 yards every 19.8 attempts in 2010. Loeffler's pass offense had a ratio of one every 15.2 pass attempts in 2011. Once again, only two Auburn pass offenses had a better ratio for big plays during the past 25 seasons.

•Perhaps the biggest improvement in the Temple pass offense came on third down. In 2010 the Owls had a pass efficiency rating of 87.7 on those plays, which Loeffler improved to 149.4 in 2011. Only the 2004 and 2010 Auburn offenses had a better pass rating on third down over the past 25 years.

Late in the 2011 season the Owls finally settled in at quarterback, starting sophomore Chris Coyer. He would have likely started earlier in the season had it not been for an injury during the spring that slowed his progression at the beginning of the season.

Coyer finished the year with an efficiency rating of 177.4, which would have been third best nationally had he qualified with enough pass attempts. He also brought an athletic skill set to the quarterback position the two previous starters did not possess.

Scot Loeffler is shown while coaching at Temple.

When it comes to the Owls' 2011 pass offense, it's important to focus on the quality and efficiency of their numbers rather than quantity. Under Loeffler, Temple was a run-heavy offense, but had an efficient passing game to keep its ground attack active. Even during their four losses the Owls averaged 186 yards rushing per game.

Loeffler has the undeniable challenge of filling the shoes of former coordinator Gus Malzahn. During Malzahn's three-year tenure, the Auburn offense averaged 425 yards and 34 points per game, which will be the benchmark Loeffler's offenses will be compared to.

The new Auburn coach has been described as being young, energetic and innovative, but his blueprint for success will likely contrast his predecessor's. In terms of a runner, Loeffler's offensive philosophy will be similar to a marathon runner whereas Malzahn was more of a sprinter.

In terms of boxing, Loeffler will be more of a boxer, whereas Malzahn was a slugger. Malzahn schemed to create impact and big plays on offense, and Loeffler will likely build his offenses around consistency in an attempt to sustain long drives.

At the time of his hiring Malzahn was exactly what Chizik wanted on offense to make up for the perceived struggles Auburn would likely work through on the defensive side of the football. Chizik knew the Tigers needed big-play ability to be competitive and for the most part, Malzahn was able to deliver.

During the three seasons before Malzahn arrived at Auburn the offense totaled 230 plays of 15 yards or more. During the three years under Malzahn the Auburn offense totaled 351 such plays.

Over the 40-game stretch with Malzahn, Auburn averaged 8.8 impact plays per game, compared to the 6.1 average during the three seasons prior to Malzahn. Auburn compiled a 23-1 record under Malzahn when Auburn produced at least eight impact plays during a game, scoring an average of 41.3 points per game.

When it came to big plays of 30 yards or more, Auburn produced 51 such plays during the three seasons prior to Malzahn's arrival. During the three seasons under Malzahn the Auburn offense generated 98 big plays, nearly doubling the production.

Malzahn was creative in his attempt to place his skill players in a position to make big plays. His offense relied on tempo, misdirection and motion to force the opponent out of position, increasing the probability of making explosive plays. The only downfall to this approach was a lack of consistency when the opponent minimized the explosive plays.

From 1992-2011 Auburn's offense converted 39.4 percent of its third down conversions, making "40 percent" the offensive goal. Auburn's offense under Malzahn reached the 40 percent goal in 20 of 40 games. When Auburn converted at least 40 percent of its third downs, the Tigers compiled a 20-0 record, averaging 41.2 points per game. When held to under 40 percent on third downs, Auburn had a 10-10 record, averaging 26.1 points per game.

The theme for the 2012 Auburn offense will be consistency and execution. Though there are some similarities between Malzahn and Loeffler, the biggest difference will come down to their offensive approach to play calling. Whereas Malzahn schemed to create the big play, Loeffler will be looking for efficiency to sustain drives. This is not to say Loeffler doesn't believe in dropping the hammer when it comes to creating big plays.

When it comes to coaching an offense with talent but a lack of experience it's important to stress the fundamentals to increase better overall execution. Like he did at Temple, Loeffler will evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of his personnel and will build his offense around the positive attributes. The offense we see early on will likely be basic in scheme, but will expand schematically as the season progresses.

A good example could be the 1993 Auburn team. Coach Terry Bowden placed a premium on improving fundamentals, and the offense drastically improved from 1992 despite being very basic in format. Simply cutting back on mistakes, penalties and turnovers can make a world of difference, which is what Loeffler did for the Temple offense during 2011 and what Chizik hopes the new coach can do for the Auburn Tigers in 2012.

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