Atlanta, Ga.--One day away from Auburn's match up against Clemson in the Chick-fil-A Bowl Coach Tommy Tuberville says that they're still trying to decide the best course of action on offense for Monday night's contest.
Trying to install as much of Tony Franklin's spread offense as possible in a short period of time while also wanting to keep the players as comfortable as they can be trying to learn a new offense, Tuberville says that at the moment the plan is still to use a blend of the old and new against Clemson and down the road.
"He's put some stuff in and we've tried to use it as an extra spring practice," Tuberville says. "It's hard in eight or nine practices as I look at it to be able to put too much in. We were pretty good at what we were doing on the other side with our offense. It's hard to teach terminology. He'll run some of his stuff and we'll run some of the old things. We'll do the same thing next year. We'll still be a two-back team in a lot of areas.
Tommy Tuberville, whose Tigers attended the Seattle Seahawks vs. Atlanta Falcons NFL game on Sunday, visited with four former Tigers on the Seattle team before the game. The group includes (left to right) Will Herring, Kevin Hobbs, Ben Obomanu and Courtney Taylor.
"I feel like you've got to be able to run it and line up and pound the ball," he adds. "Against some teams you need to do that, you don't need to spread it out. As we go through this game we'll use some of it and as we go through spring practice we'll look and see what fits the players we have. What Tony does some of it fits what we do right now (terminology wise) and we were able to put that in. Some was totally opposite and we weren't able to get that in. We'll run some of it."
Because of that perhaps the biggest question mark remaining is who exactly will call the plays?
"Tony Franklin is our offensive coordinator and he's going to call some of the plays," Tuberville says. "We'll get together tonight as a staff and kind of decide who he wants to defer to when we're running some of the other offense…he talks to the offensive line coach a lot about running the football to come up with the best running plays we can run so Hugh Nall will be involved in some of that.
"Steve Ensminger will be involved in some of the passing game, some of the old things we did that we might stick with," he adds. "It will be a group deal, but it's kind of hard to do that. We're going to sit down and visit tonight to see how much input we want from each coach. I don't want a lot of guys talking on the phones because you only have a short period of time to get a play called."
Offensively the Tigers will be without senior offensive tackle King Dunlap, who will miss the game because of a high ankle sprain that has bothered him since before Christmas. True freshman Ryan Pugh will get the start on the left side, a position he would have likely had even without the injury to Dunlap.
Playing a bowl game against a team as familiar as Clemson, with many players and coaches having relationships through recruiting, has given the Chick-fil-A Bowl a decided edge this week and should provide for a good contest. Tuberville says the notion this game is for conference pride is one that is false as far as he's concerned though, although many Clemson players have said the chance to beat an SEC team is huge for them.
"We don't talk about it much," Tuberville says. "There is enough pressure on these kids anyway. We want them to have a good time. Both teams are playing for their schools and the conferences are just an after thought. I think it's good for the media to talk about."
With plenty of question marks concerning his offense and with both teams playing their first game in a month, there is really no telling what will unfold on Monday night. Tuberville says one thing he has learned in his years of coaching is that you can expect the unexpected and the team that makes the fewest mistakes usually wins.
"After over 20 bowl games I've never predicted one right in terms of whether it's going to be high or low scoring," Tuberville says. "You just never know. The ball bounces funny and both teams haven't played in over a month. There will usually be some mistakes on both sides. It's usually who takes advantage of the other mistakes better."