Malzahn Tickled To Death To Be At Auburn

New Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn talks about his style of offense and his first day on the job.

Auburn, Ala.--When people talk about new Auburn coordinator Gus Malzahn and his offensive system, the term "spread" is thrown around quite often. In his opening statement Monday following an introduction, Malzahn made it know pretty quickly that he's planning on being physical up front while still stretching the defense vertically.

That's news to the ears of Auburn fans everywhere.

"It's a true honor for me to be here," Malzahn said. "I have been in college football and I have been to a lot of places. I was here while I was at Arkansas and I came away from this place being the most impressive place, from the tradition to the fans to the quality of football.

"This is a big moment for me to come here to Auburn and represent this university. I'm here to do everything in my power to help us win. I'm excited to take over the offense and just like coach (Chizik) said, we're going to be a run, play-action team.

"I know a lot of people categorize me as a spread guy. If you look back at my history we're going to play smash-mouth football. We're going to set up the pass with the run. I really think the difference with most run, play-action teams is we're going to throw the ball vertically down the field and we're going to do that quite often. I'm tickled to death to be here with the chance to represent Auburn University."

Malzahn has wasted little time getting on the job as he met with Chizik for about eight hours on Monday watching film of the current Tigers. He said that will continue Monday night before going to Tulsa for practice on Tuesday. In between practice time for Tulsa, Malzahn said he'll be on the phones recruiting for the Tigers and will be on the job full time following the GMAC Bowl in Mobile on Jan. 6.

"The first step is accessing what you have and looking at your strengths and building the offense around those strengths," Chizik said. "I take that from my old high school background. You have to work with what you're given. I think this situation kind of fits that. That's what I did today.

"I spent a lot of time evaluating our strengths. If you look the last three years, our offenses have been a little bit different each year, the reason being is adapting to your strengths. That's what I'm in the process of doing now as well as recruiting to fit the voids we need. We started looking at film and accessing our needs and trying to find the right fits to the pieces of the puzzle."

Knowing what to look for on the recruiting trail is something that Malzahn is very familiar with after coaching several top prospects at Springdale High in Arkansas before moving to the University of Arkansas and then to Tulsa. Familiar with the SEC and Auburn, Malzahn notes that the experience made him a better coach and should help him with the Tigers.

"I really think anytime you've got experience in a league it does nothing but help you," Chizik said. "It was a great experience for me. I got a chance to get familiar with some of the defensive coordinators and the speed of the game.

"The SEC is the best conference in college football. I got a chance to see the actual speed. I think that is very important when you're out looking for players to fit what you're looking for. To be familiar with that can be nothing but a positive."

In the end it will be all about production on the field that will determine the success of the hire. For Malzahn it comes down to confidence. He said he believes in what he does on offense and with good reason.

In two seasons at Tulsa he has coached two different quarterbacks to huge seasons and has finished in the Top Five in the country in offense both seasons. Still unsure of what he's got to work with at Auburn, Malzahn said he'll tailor his system to the players while also continuing to do what he does best.

"I think you'll see a lot of similarities as far as our philosophy and our pace," Malzahn said. "Our pace is so important. Our first year at Tulsa we had to throw the football. I think we actually ran it one more time than we threw it.

"This past year we had some offensive linemen step up and we could run it more. You see we ran a lot more. That' what I was talking about earlier about accessing our strengths here. We will build around our strengths for next year. You will see the same philosophy, the pace, the run, play-action, and throwing the ball vertically down the field. That won't change."

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