Atlanta, Ga.--Not many thought it could be done and even fewer thought Auburn would actually do it, but on Monday night after just nine practice days Coach Tony Franklin's offense was on full display and the results were better than anyone could have expected.
Putting up over 400 yards and winning the game in overtime, Auburn's offense got the job done following an unbelievable cram session. Franklin says that the Tigers actually put in the entire offense, but for the game he picked a few select things to go with and it proved to be the right call.
"Basically we put the whole thing in during the first four days," Franklin says. "After that every week you can tweak things to where it looks like something totally different and it's not. It's not totally different, but it can look like it. We threw the whole thing in and smoothed it out. You just try to figure out what's working and call it."
What was working was the mixture of run and pass. Running the ball 47 times for 190 yards and passing another 43 for 233 yards, Auburn kept the Clemson defense guessing despite rotating quarterbacks Brandon Cox and Kodi Burns the entire contest. Running back Brad Lester says while it was a difficult thing to do, learning the offense now will pay dividends down the road following the win over Clemson.
"It feels good," Lester says. "We started it off with a whole new offense. We knew coming into this game we would be running a new offense and it gave us a chance to get a start on next season. It's important because it gives us a lot of confidence heading into the off season. I think it was a big victory for us."
Early on the offense misfired more than it hit as the Tigers struggled to get anything going after a solid first drive of the game produced a Wes Byrum field goal to give Auburn a 3-0 advantage. The 11-play- 58-yard drive accounted for all but 41 yards in the first quarter as Auburn's next two possessions gained two first downs, but no points.
That quickly changed after a mellow second quarter as Auburn came out running in the third quarter after gaining just 49 yards in the second 15 minutes. Driving 78 yards in 10 plays, Auburn scored on a 22-yard touchdown pass from Kodi Burns to Mario Fannin and just like that the offense was off and running.
"In the first half we didn't look to good," Lester says. "We came out the second half and made a lot of improvement. I think it's going to be an offense that is going to be hard to stop next year. You never know who is going to have a big game. The ball is going to be all over the place. It's your job to make a play."
Burns was the key for the Auburn offense all night long as his ability to run the ball and made the correct reads out of the shotgun runs allowed Franklin's offense to get moving. Lester says that it was just the tip of the iceberg in his opinion for the young freshman.'
"Kodi did a great job tonight," Lester says. "He's a mobile quarterback and I think that's going to help us out in the future. He's going to have a great year next year and a great career after that."
Perhaps the best judge of Auburn's offensive success Monday night would be to ask Will Muschamp. Familiar with seeing the offense in practice for all nine days of its existence at Auburn, Muschamp says the job Auburn's offensive coaches did installing the offense is something he doesn't want to tackle anytime soon.
"I'm glad it wasn't me, on their side or our side," Muschamp says. "To have to get ready for that and all of what you think you've got to get ready for. On top of that Tony coming in on such short notice and doing what he did is very difficult to do. It was just a phenomenal job against a really good defensive football team to move the ball successfully and put up enough points to win the game. They made plays in clutch situations."