Atlanta, Ga.--When the term spread is used to describe an offense normally the players most excited about that are the wide receivers. When Coach Tony Franklin was hired by Auburn to replace Al Borges as offensive coordinator though, it was more than just the outside guys who got excited about what they were getting ready to unleash.
Surprisingly the Auburn running backs were among the happiest to see a change, not because they would get the ball any more than they had in the previous offense, but because they would now get it in areas where they can be more successful. Junior Brad Lester says for him the change was one that was right on time and really a dream come true.
"It really is, especially at the running back position," Lester says. "You're seeing a five or six-man box. That's a running back's dream. That's not a lot of people at all.
"They're using me out of the backfield," Lester adds. "They are splitting me out at receiver some. They're just using me everywhere. I like the opportunity and I'm looking forward to it."
A no-huddle attack that is up tempo and led the nation in plays per game at 80 1/2 this season at Troy, Franklin's attack is based on using talented players no matter their position. Lester says the adjustment period for him hasn't been that difficult and he's liking the offense every day more and more.
"I feel like I'm learning very fast," Lester says. "He came in with a lot of new plays. I sat down with the coaches and tried to catch on to it real fast. I'm just going hard in practice and I seem to fit in real well.
"It's great because it gives me a lot of opportunities where I can get one on one with a lot of people," Lester says. "It's going to be hard for people to put eight in the box and that's all we've been seeing since I've been here."
Tight end Gabe McKenzie is happy to be getting a fresh start on offense.
While Lester is thrilled with the new offense, the player who likes it the most may be sophomore tight end Gabe McKenzie. Catching seven passes for 69 yards and two touchdowns in the first two games, the Mobile native had just six catches for 48 yards and no scores in the final 10 games of the season. He says for him it's all he could have wished for.
"It really is," McKenzie says. "It's like something you wish you could play in. You see other teams do it and you're like ‘I wish that was me'. It's just another gift for Christmas, a new offense.
"Exciting is not the word for it to tell you the truth," McKenzie says. "After going through some games this year where you don't contribute other than block and get a couple of balls, a little bonus would be nice."
Auburn's Quentin Groves (right) squares off against Clemson QB Cullen Harper on Friday night at the Delta Family Feud Night dinner with radio and TV sportscaster Chuck Oliver serving as the game show host.