Former Tiger Star Gives Malzahn High Marks

Former Auburn All-SEC linebacker Quentin Riggins talks about Gus Malzahn and his coaching staff and why he is impressed with how the AU's head coach is handling his new job.

AU, Ala.--Former All-SEC linebacker Quentin Riggins says he is pleased about having Gus Malzahn back on the Auburn campus in charge of the football program.

Riggins, a four-year letterman at Auburn who played on the 1987, 1988 and 1989 SEC championship teams, is an executive with Alabama Power who helps out his alma mater by working on football Saturdays as the sideline reporter for the Auburn Radio Network.

"I am very excited about Gus being hired because I got a chance to watch him in action for a couple of years," Riggins says.

"Going into the locker room at halftime when he is coaching is interesting," the former linebacker says. "He puts up about 25 plays on the board and makes adjustments as he walks the players through his vision, saying, ‘This is what we are going to do the second half.' That is impressive.

"Not only does he have the players' attention during the game, it is the same way with the assistant coaches," Riggins notes. "It is nothing for him to ask a coach, ‘Hey, what is the backside end doing? Is he dropping inside?' Okay, we are going to run a reverse.

"He is very meticulous, very detailed, very competitive and very intense so I am very excited about the hire," Riggins says.

Gus Malzahn

Asked if he believes the Tigers have a chance to get back to their winning ways quickly after dropping from 14 wins in 2010, to eight in 2011 to three in 2012, Riggins says, "Yes, because there is talent here, in particular on the offensive side of the ball.

"I think Auburn making the transition from a spread to a pro-style offense was a struggle last season," Riggins says. "The personnel is there to run a spread offense. I am looking foward to seeing what a Jonathan Wallace or a Kiehl Frazier can do in the offense Gus runs along with guys like Trovon Reed and Sammie Coates.

"I think what these guys need is somebody who has a vision to see them in space instead of making things congested around the line of scrimmage," Riggins says. "I think if the offense is opened up there will be guys who make plays."

Riggins notes that he is pleased that Malzahn hired one of the linebacker's college teammates, Rodney Garner, as the defensive line coach, assistant head coach and recruiting coordinator.

"I have been extremely pleased and surprised, in a good way, watching him assemble his staff and not rush," Riggins says of the five assistants who have coached a combined total of 66 seasons for one or more programs in the 14-team SEC.

"He hasn't worried about fans or anybody on the outside wanting him to hurry and assemble a staff," Riggins says. "He has got a plan and he is going through it methodically to put together his staff."

The Tigers had major struggles last season on defense. Riggins says he believes the new coaches can get that turned around. "He started with hiring Ellis Johnson, a well-respected, seasoned defensive coordinator in this conference who has been around," Riggins says.

"I am also impressed with him hiring Coach Harbison (secondary coach Charlie Harbison)," Riggins says. "We go back a ways. We were together on the Raleigh-Durham Skyhawks. I didn't see that on his resume, but I wouldn't have put it on there either because we were 0-10 when Roman Gabriel was the coach. Coach Harbison is a technician and a disciplinarian.

"I am very excited about having my old teammate, Coach Garner, back at Auburn," says Riggins, who notes the Tigers are getting a man who loves the university and believes in teaching old-school, physical defensive football the SEC is famous for producing.

In addition to hiring a former Auburn player with Garner being lured away from the Georgia Bulldogs, Riggins says he likes the fact that Malzahn has already reached out to the former players, as a group, asking for their support.

"That is always good," Riggins says. "You don't want to have a natural fanbase sitting on the sidelines. You want everybody to be in the parade and feel like they are part of it. For our fan base, I think if everybody will just take a deep breath we will get back on the right track."

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