Not Just A Chip Off The Old Block
It’s true that new Auburn offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey has a connection to Gus Malzahn after being an analyst on the 2013 AU football staff, but Lindsey has developed his own style of offense over the years. When you combine that with his work with quarterbacks this is a hire that has a chance to be successful for the Tigers and there is no reason that can't happen quickly.
Something that stands out to me about the hire is the excitement for Malzahn in getting Lindsey on board. In talking with the head coach just moments before the announcement he mentioned that he was as excited as he has been about a hire with Lindsey coming in as offensive coordinator.
Malzahn is not someone who gets overly dramatic about anything outside of the games his teams play, but watching him talk about his new offensive coordinator shows me he is serious about turning things over and letting Lindsey do his job.
Lindsey will have a talented roster to work with and there is no question those guys are excited about what the offense will look like moving forward. That is especially true of the quarterbacks and wide receivers, who all had big smiles on their faces this weekend at the basketball game.
Speaking of quarterbacks, the ovation for five-star early enrollee Jarrett Stidham shows just how important the fans think his addition is for the Tigers heading into the 2017 season. So far he’s backed up his end of things with his teammates as well, showing leadership around the locker room and always around the complex with the younger receivers.
There is no question that Alabama’s defense was one of the best in the country this season, but watching the Tide give up big numbers to Clemson in the title game prompted me to do some research about just how did Auburn and Alabama match up against their common opponents?
This season Auburn and Alabama faced six common opponents with Clemson being the most obvious. Against the ACC Tigers, Auburn allowed 19 points and 399 yards of total offense while Alabama gave up 35 points and 511 yards.
The other five games came against SEC West foes. LSU had 338 yards and scored 13 points at Auburn while they were shut out and had just 125 yards of total offense against Alabama. On the other end of the spectrum Ole Miss scored 29 points with 570 yards against Auburn and scored 43 and 522 yards against Alabama.
Mississippi State scored 14 on Auburn with 289 yards with three against Alabama with 274 yards.
The last two games were against Texas A&M and Arkansas. The Aggies managed 29 points and 478 yards against Auburn, but only 14 points and 278 yards against Alabama. Rounding out the list Arkansas scored just three points with only 215 yards of offense at Auburn, but scored 30 with 473 yards against Alabama.
The tally shows Auburn allowed 17.8 points per game while Alabama gave up 20.8. You read that right.
Against six common opponents Auburn allowed three points per game less than Alabama. Also the Tigers failed to give up 30 points in any of the games while Alabama allowed 30 or more three times.
Alabama did win the yardage battle, giving up an average of just 363.8 yards per game compared to 381.5 for Auburn.
With plenty of talent returning and what is expected to be a much better offense, those are the types of numbers that could put Auburn in the hunt for a championship sooner rather than later if everything falls into place.
Big Win, Great Atmosphere
Saturday’s win over Alabama was one that we could look back on in a few years and call it a defining moment for Bruce Pearl’s Tigers. There is still a long way to go this season, but with Austin Wiley continuing to develop inside, the Ronnie Johnson/Jared Harper duo at the point and Bryce Brown finding his rhythm again at guard, this Auburn team has a chance to play with anyone left on the schedule.
Watching Wiley play on Saturday with mom Vickie Orr shouting instructions from the stands was something to behold. There is no question that watching Wiley post up in the paint brings back memories of watching his mom, a three-time All-American, do the same thing for Coach Joe Ciampi’s Auburn teams. The improvement in his game from early December until now has been night and day. Pearl said something very telling following the win over Alabama and I think it’s worth revisiting.
In talking about Wiley the coach noted that “when Austin first got here it was all we could do to teach him what we do, and that’s all he wanted to learn. Over the last week or two now that we have had him, he knows what we do, let’s start doing some stuff that’s best for him and take advantage of him.”
You can see this team begin to take that to heart with the Tigers going to Wiley time and time again in the paint. Watching him make winning plays against a very good Alabama defense on Saturday has to make teams think twice about closing out so hard on Brown, Harper, Mustapha Heron and Danjel Purifoy, and it also opens up more lanes for Johnson and T.J. Dunans to drive to the basket.
All those things add up to what should be some fun basketball to watch down the stretch. This week won’t be easy with games at South Carolina and TCU. There will still be some ugly stretches and even games at times, but make no mistake about it this is a program that is headed for better days.