New Offensive Coordinator Returns To College

Bob Petrino has coached quarterbacks who have put up big numbers.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn's new offensive coordinator has a history of developing quality quarterbacks, something Tommy Tuberville is expecting the coach will bring to AU.

The 40-year-old Bob Petrino is expected to be an attractive QB coach and offensive coordinator considering his impressive resume. He was announced as the newest Auburn football staff member on Monday and will be on the Plains this Thursday morning for a staff recruiting meeting.

"One of the best ones I ever coached was my younger brother Paul when I was back at Carroll College," Petrino says, when asked about his experience coaching QBs. "He was an option guy and one of the first guys to rush for 1,000-yards and pass for 2,000." Paul Petrino is now QB coach at the Southern Mississippi.

"Then I was able to coach John Friesz at the University of Idaho, who went on and actually, I think, had 10 years in the NFL," Petrino notes. "He was only a starter for a couple of them. And, a young man by the name of Doug Nussmeier, a left-handed quarterback I recruited and coached in his first three years at the University of Idaho. He was the Walter Payton Trophy (Division I-AA Player of the Year) winner there. When I went to Arizona State I recruited and coached Jake Plummer (now with the Arizona Cardinals). And, of course, Chris Redman and Mark Brunnell. I have been lucky enough to coach some real good players."

"Jake The Snake" Plummer is a well-known starter for the NFL's Arizona Cardinals, Redman is a backup for the Baltimore Ravens and Brunnell is a lefty quarterback that Petrino coached the past three years in Jacksonville. Petrino coached Redman at Louisville where the Cardinals led the nation in total offense in 1998.

Nussmeier set University of Idaho school and conference records for total offense with 309.3 yards per game and had 91 career touchdown passes. He had 10,824 career passing yards.

Under the direction of Petrino as a senior at Idaho, Friesz passed for 367.4 yards per game in 1989 and had 10 consecutive 300-yard passing performances.

In his last college assignment, his QB Redman put up monster numbers in 1998. Redman set school and conference records that year for passing yards (4,042), touchdowns (29), pass attempts (473) and completions (309). Louisville led the nation in total offense that season with 559.7 yards per game. An NFL scout told Inside the Auburn Tigers that Redman was one of the best developed quarterbacks who ever played in the Senior Bowl because the coaching he got from Petrino was superb.

"I am very happy and excited to join in the Auburn football staff," Petrino says. "I would like to thank Coach Tuberville for all of his confidence and faith in me to coordinate his offense. I have spent most of my coaching career at the college level and I am very excited to get back and coach there again so I am looking forward to the change."

Commenting on his offensive system, Petrino says, "We are going to have a good mix between both the single back and the two-back. Primarily, to be able to run the ball and run the play-action game you have to get into the two-back system. And, because of all the different zone blitzes and pressure defensive packages that people are running now, it is important that you can handle the line of scrimmage and be able to knock them off the ball with either a fullback or an extra tight end in there."

Bob Petrino

Petrino is known for a wide open pro style of offense, but he also has a background in the option game at Carroll College in Montana where he was an NAIA All-American quarterback. He was the Frontier Conference MVP and led his team to three straight league titles. "I tell you what, that is how I grew up," he says of the option. "I think with some of the things defenses are trying to do now, there may be some opportunities to do some of that. It would be an extended part (of the offense), but it makes people play you honest and balance out their front and not be able to get away with being unsound."

When asked his impressions of the AU offense, which struggled in 2001, Petrino said, "I haven't watched a lot of Auburn film on what they did offensively so I couldn't make any comparisons to them. In a lot of my years in college, we have been able to spread people out and throw the ball real well, but we always had a 1,500-yard rusher. What you would really like to do is have your main running back carry the ball 25 times a game and catch another five to six balls and then be able to handle the passing game, too."

Petrino has 19 years of coaching experience with 16 at the college level. It is not common for an NFL offensive coordinator to return to the college game as a coordinator, but Auburn was able to lure him back. "I grew up in college football," Petrino said. "My father is a football coach at Carroll College, which is a small school, but I was able to be around it my entire life--be at the practices and on the sideline. I just enjoy the atmosphere and the entire experience of college football and my entire college life. So, I gave it a good run in the NFL. I enjoyed my time, learned a lot but college is where I prefer to be."

Tiger Ticket Extra: Auburn's struggles with mastering former coordinator Noel Mazzone's offense, which relies heavily on audibles, surely has Tiger fans wondering what Petrino thinks about that part of the quarterback's duties. "You have to have an audible system where he is able to make the proper checks," Petrino says. "The primary thing you have to be able to do there is to only check out of a bad play. You are never going to be able to get up there and just have a lot of freedom. We are going to get out of a bad play and into a good play when the defense dictates that."


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