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Phillip's blog: Malzahn answers critics with

Maybe it’s because, five years ago, Gus Malzahn was the head coach at Springdale (Ark.) High School. Maybe it’s because Ole Miss and former Arkansas coach Houston Nutt still privately badmouths him to this day.

Phillip Marshall, Senior Editor,

Maybe it’s because coaches just naturally don’t like getting their tails kicked.

Whatever the reason, opposing coaches and even coaches who watch from afar seem to have a hard time accepting what Malzahn and his offense do to opponents.

After Auburn rushed for 334 yards in a victory over South Carolina, Gamecock defensive head coach Ellis Johnson said Auburn’s running game was mostly “tricks.” He praised Alabama’s running game, then his defense held that running game to 33 yards. Heck, if I was him, I’d like Alabama’s running game better, too.

Auburn has rushed for more than 300 yards against each of its last four SEC opponents. And Auburn’s 24-17 victory over LSU on Saturday was like no other. Auburn rushed for 440 yards, more than any LSU team had ever given up in a single game and more than Auburn had gained against an SEC opponent.

LSU coach Les Miles talked about the opportunities his team missed, never really addressing how his team couldn’t stop Malzahn’s offense. On ESPN, Lou Holtz talked about how uncharacteristically bad LSU was on defense.

If you saw the very interesting message board post in which Ronnie Sanders, our publisher, quoted what some coaches had to say about Malzahn last week, you saw that a lot of them don’t think much of what he does.

The reality is that has done a lot. He led the nation in total offense at Tulsa. He breathed new life into Auburn’s offense last season. And here’s what his offense is doing this season:

No. 1 in the SEC in rushing with 303.25 yards per game.

Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn

No. 1 in the SEC in total offense with 486.75 yards per game

No. 1 in the SEC in scoring offense with 38.63 points per game.

No. 1 in the SEC in pass efficiency.

Has superstar quarterback Cam Newton played a gigantic role? Sure he has, but great players usually do. Malzahn didn’t just start piling up yards and points after Newton arrived.

I don’t see all that much gimmicky about quarterback runs, jet sweeps and zone reads. Auburn’s offensive linemen knocking defenders on their backs doesn’t seem tricky to me. I’m no coach, but I can see, and whatever Malzahn is doing, he should keep doing it. So far, nobody has figured out how to stop it.

Since they can’t stop it, they make fun of it.

Moving on …

For anyone worried about a repeat of 2004, forget it. If Auburn beats Ole Miss, Georgia and Alabama and wins the SEC Championship Game, it will play for the BCS championship. No question about it. …

If the Tigers win at Ole Miss next Saturday, they will assure themselves of playing for the West Division championship in the Iron Bowl against Alabama. Even a loss to Georgia wouldn’t change that. …

If Auburn beats Ole Miss and Georgia and Alabama stumbles again, the race will be over before the Iron Bowl. …

Until next time …

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