Chizik Says His Tigers Will Be Physical

Comments from Auburn's new head football coach, Gene Chizik, are featured. His Tigers will begin spring practice later this month.

Auburn, Ala.--As he prepares for his first spring practice as head coach of the Auburn football team, Gene Chizik is clear about what he will be emphasizing in the 15 days of spring drills.

"Auburn football will be physical," Chizik vows. "I hear more about the spread offense, all of that stuff, but let me tell you what. Gus Malzahn, and this Auburn coaching staff, is about running the football. I can tell you that right now so don't believe what you read."

Malzahn is Auburn's new offensive coordinator and quarterback coach. He is considered one of Chizik's key hires for the coaching staff. Malzahn's offenses at Tulsa led the nation in total yardage the past two seasons and were highly effective both running the football and throwing it.

Malzahn's Tulsa team averaged 268 rushing yards per game in 2008, which ranked fifth nationally. The Golden Hurricane finished ninth in passing offense with 301.9 yards per contest.

Gus Malzahn is shown on the sideline in Tulsa's bowl victory over Ball State.

Tulsa's total offense average of 569.86 yards per game was more than seven better than No. 2 Houston. Oklahoma finished third with 547.86 per game.

"I don't even know what the spread offense is any more," Chizik says in discussing what Malzahn's system will be this fall. "There are so many versions of it out there I have got no idea, but I know this--we are going to run the football, we are going to play great special teams and we are going to play defense."

Chizik says the philosophy of being physical on offense and defense has made Auburn teams successful in the past and he adds that he believes that is still a recipe for success in the challenging world of SEC football.

Installing Malzahn's offensive system will be a high priority this spring and the Tigers will be doing it with a completely revamped coaching staff on that side of the football.

Two of Chizik's assistants were brought in from the Oklahoma State program that has had success both running and passing the football in recent years. The Cowboys finished the season ranked sixth in total offense last season. Curtis Luper coached running backs for the Cowboys and will do the same thing at Auburn. Trooper Taylor, who also has the title of assistant head coach, will be in charge of the wide receivers.

Jay Boulware was brought in from Chizik's staff at Iowa State to coach the tight ends. He will also coordinate special teams.

Chizik notes that he searched far and wide looking for the right fit as his offensive line coach before deciding on Jeff Grimes, another former Big 12 assistant coach who made the move to Auburn from Colorado.

Malzahn notes that he is excited about the new coaching staff and points out that he recently installed his system at Arkansas and Tulsa so he is familiar with teaching it to players and other members of the coaching staff.

"The main thing you do is you put in your base stuff," he says. "You make sure your coaches have the base stuff down. You make sure your players have the base stuff down. When you go into spring you get that going and evaluate your guys and then you can get to the fancy stuff later."

Malzahn says that after the staff gets a good read on the abilities of the players on this year's Auburn team they will tailor the offense to fit the skills of those players. "We have base runs and base passes, but it kind of goes back to my high school background--you adapt to the strength of your players," the offensive coordinator says. "I think that gives you an advantage.

"If you look back since 1997, each year you may see a little bit different each year, but the base core and the base philosophy is all the same," he says of the offenses he coached going back to his high school days in Arkansas. "We are going to put our best players, our best 11, on the field and try to get the ball in the end zone."

Spring practice begins on March 24th for the Tigers and will conclude with the annual A-Day spring game on April 18th.

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