Stat Tiger: Malzahn's Attention to Detail

StatTiger (Stuart Carter) analyzes reasons why Coach Gus Malzahn's football teams have been highly productive on offense.

From 2000-2013 only 106 of 1,657 FBS football teams (6.4 percent) have finished the season ranked in the nation's Top 25 for both run offense and pass efficiency offense throughout the same season. During Gus Malzahn's eight collegiate coaching seasons his offenses accomplished this feat five times, including five of the last six seasons.

The combined winning percentage of the 106 teams was .763 and Malzahn's winning percentage was .808. This kind of offensive balance is rare, yet Malzahn has managed to achieve this level of success on a consistent basis.

Malzahn knows in order for the Auburn offense to continue moving forward in 2014 the Tigers must obtain more from their passing attack. The return of Nick Marshall is a major step in that direction.

"I think the big thing is just being more comfortable," Malzahn said after Auburn's A-Day game when discussing his quarterback's improvement. "You can see him in the pocket. He's just more under control. His balance is good. His eyes, his progressions are good so you can tell he has really improved."

Malzahn will enter the 2014 season with a 53-4 record when his offense produces at least 170 yards rushing and a pass rating of 140 or better during the same game.

From 2000-2013 teams in the Southeastern Conference are 386-20-0 when rushing for at least 200 yards while possessing a pass rating of at least 130 during the same game. This is a not a common achievement, occurring in 18.9 percent of the games played during that time period.

Malzahn's offenses, while in the SEC, have accomplished the feat in 46.9 percent of his games, compiling a record of 31-0 in the process. Maintaining this level of offensive balance won't be easy, but Auburn's head coach has made it a priority for this season. "A lot of people took chances trying to stop the run last year," Malzahn pointed out. "We just need to make them pay on a more consistent basis."

Gus Malzahn

During the past 14 seasons SEC offenses have averaged 162.2 yards rushing per game and a pass rating average of 130.3. When it comes to accomplishing both during the same game, it has occurred 27.8 percent of the time. Malzahn's offense over the past eight seasons has reached this statistical duet 55.9 percent of the time, posting a 56-5 record in those games.

"We're going to be who we are, but we'll be more balanced," said Malzahn. "That's what we've been working hard on. The quarterback always has a read, always has options off that read. We build around the strengths of our quarterback. We're the same core offense every year, but we try to build around his strengths."

Despite all the moving components, misdirection and talent involved in the offense, Malzahn places a higher premium on execution. This is the very reason why Auburn constantly reps its offense during practice.

"I believe in doing a few things and trying to be the best at it," Malzahn said about his team's offensive training. "Once you get to that point you can put in the bells and whistles and it looks complicated and fancy and you can try to out-scheme people, but you have got to execute. The whole scheming thing only gets you so far."

It's the attention to details that has made Malzahn's offense so successful at every level he has competed. It has produced results very few teams in the country have been able to duplicate.

Auburn finished the 2013 season ranked No. 3 nationally in producing first downs with its running game, but ranked No. 70 when it came to pass offense. In the SEC rankings Auburn was No. 1 with its run offense and No. 10 in passing.

Auburn's issues on pass offense had more to do with execution than anything else. Marshall having a complete off-season to prep for his senior year should bolster the offense's overall execution.

With the majority of the depth chart returning on offense, Coach Rhett Lashlee has been able to focus on more details rather than installation this year. "We can coach the finer details and more the execution than teaching the scheme as much, which has been really good," the offensive coordinator said.

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