AUBURN – In all the history of Auburn football, there has not been another offense as prolific as the one that will take the field against Alabama on Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Mike Dyer has broken Bo Jackson's record for rushing yards by a freshman
The Tigers have already scored more than any team in Auburn history. They will soon break the all-time rushing record. And they are the most efficient passing team in the Southeastern Conference. They lead the SEC in scoring at 42.8 points per game, in rushing at 307.9 yards per game and total offense at 505.2 yards per game.
In seven SEC games, the Tigers have scored 35 points or more five times. They’ve scored 49 points or more three times. They have rushed for more than 300 yards in six consecutive SEC games.
Senior wide receiver Kodi Burns says offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn is the force behind it all.
“He prepares like nobody I’ve seen before,” Burns said. “He’s a great coach, a players’ coach. He always gives us a chance to win.
“The way he schemes teams up, the way he watches film, the way he knows what people are going to try to do to us dictates games. We’ve won a lot of games in the fourth quarter due to his knowledge and knowing what people are going to give us.”
When Gene Chizik was named Auburn’s coach in December 2008, he quickly turned to Malzahn and hired him away from Tulsa. Auburn’s offense, like Tulsa’s, took off. In Malzahn’s first season, the Tigers set a school record in scoring with 423 points, total yards with 5,613 and touchdown passes with 25.
When Cam Newton arrived to play quarterback, the Tigers were on their way to having an offense that would break those records and more.
Newton has shattered records in becoming the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy. His 1,297 rushing yards is the most of any quarterback in SEC history. He is the first quarterback in SEC history to rush for at least 1,000 yards and pass for at least 2,000 yards in the same season. He has been responsible for 39 touchdowns, the most in Auburn history. With 21 touchdown passes, he needs one more to tie the school record set by Chris Todd last season.
Newton has been by no means a one-man band. Tailback Mike Dyer has broken Bo Jackson's freshman rushing record with 859 yards. Sophomore Onterio McCalebb averages 8.9 yards per carry.
Seniors Darvin Adams and Terrell Zachery lead the receiving corps. Sophomore Emory Blake has become a big-play threat.
Showing the way for it all is an offensive line with four senior starters.
“I think one of the things that makes Gus so effective at every level he’s been on is that he is so creative,” Chizik said. “He studies the game. He’s as hard a worker as I’ve ever been around. The combination of all those things certainly lends itself to a guy that is successful. That’s why he is very successful.
“He pays a lot of attention to details. He buries himself in the game. To be very, very good at your trade, that’s what you have to do as an offensive or defensive coordinator. I think he does it at its highest level.”
So it is that the SEC’s top offense will run head-on into the league’s No. 1 scoring defense when the No. 2 Tigers (11-0, 7-0) play Alabama (9-2, 5-2) on Friday at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Kickoff time on CBS is set for 1:30 p.m.
No one at Auburn doubts that Malzahn will be ready for the challenge.
“His football mind doesn’t have an off switch,” offensive line coach Jeff Grimes said. “That’s for sure. I think that’s one of the things that makes him great. He’s so driven toward success and so focused in his approach.”
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