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Auburn and Texas - in transition

  • NOTE: Sorry this is so long.....I just got to typing and....45 minutes later, after countless interruptions, this drivel is what I've written down.

    Phillip and another poster mentioned a few days ago how Texas has been going through a similar transition (from one style of offense to another).

    With Vince Young and Colt McCoy, Texas had become more of a spread and option read-type offense, relying very much on the QB to do almost everything in the offense. So much so that Colt McCoy was the leading rusher in 2008, with the leading running back rushing for only 376 yards.

    Following the BCS title game loss to Alabama, Mack Brown decided to go back to more of a traditional offensive style.

    At the same time, Texas lost Colt McCoy and large number of other players from the national title game team of 2009. With a new approach and a new QB, they went 5-7 and missed a bowl for the first time since 1997. Just how bad was it? They lost five home games...which included losses to 4-8 UCLA, 5-7 Iowa State, and two 7-6 teams in Baylor and Kansas State. It was about as ugly as it could get. 2010 and 2011 has also included a significant youth movement, with Texas being perhaps the only team to ask more freshman to play significant minutes than Auburn did.

    With a sophomore QB in 2010 they threw for 2744 yards, but had 10 TDs and 17 picks and a completion percentage of just 59%. The run game was non-existent at 1806 yards and a 4.2 yards per carry average for the year.

    Following the debacle of 2010, there were major staff changes with both coordinators and several position coaches. Although there wasn't too much of a philosophical change in the offense, as the new coordinator was brought in to run what Brown had been wanting the year before as well....a hard nosed, down hill running team.

    So last year, in 2011, the record improved to 8-5. But it was a similar "8-5" to Auburn's 8-5. Texas played five conference teams that won at least 8 games, and they lost all five, going 2-6 in the Big XII overall. They lost those five games by an average score of 38 to 17, losing 55-17 to Oklahoma and 48-24 to Baylor. The offensive numbers were marginally better, getting 2634 yards on the ground, primarily from two freshman, but still just 4.5 yards per carry, and 2469 yards in the air, primarily from first time freshman/sophomore starters (16 TDs, 15 picks, 58% completion).

    So while the record got better, the numbers didn't look very good and any good team they faced, they lost to.

    So now they are three games into year three of the new direction of the offense, and three games into year two of the new coordinators. While they haven't played stiff competition just yet (Wyoming, New Mexico, and @ Ole Miss), they appear to be light years ahead of last year and 2010. The freshman QB from last year is now a sophomore and has 7 TDs and 0 picks to go along with a 73% completion percentage. The running game is now led by two second year runners in Malcolm Brown and Bergeron, and is averaging 5.9 yards per carry. All of that adds up to 49 points per game so far. Even with mediocre competition....66 points at Ole Miss is impressive, especially considering they avoided scoring 73 by running out the clock in the Ole Miss red-zone.

    Let me remind everyone of a detail that is a constant during this 2-3 year transition Texas has been going through.....recruiting. Texas, according to Rivals, was ranked #5 in 2006, #5 in 2007, #14 in 2008, #5 in 2009, #3 in 2010, and #3 in 2011. Supposedly there is a lot of talent in Austin. Yet, with the changes installed, they managed a 13-12 record the last two years, including a 2-8 record against teams in the conference that had at least 8 wins.

    Think what you want about Mack Brown, but here are some quick facts. When he took over, Texas wasn't the Texas we know today. The 11 years prior to his arrival Texas won 8 games only four times, just twice winning 10 games. In the programs history since 1893, Texas has won 9 games 36 times....1/3 of them (12) have come from Brown. From 1950 to 1997 Texas won 10 games eleven times. Brown has done it nine times himself since 1998. And here are the season win totals for his time at North Carolina: 1, 1, 6, 7, 9, 10, 8, 7, 10, 10. The guy can coach. Even if you think Pete Carroll or Nick Saban could have won more at Texas, he has still done very well, losing 2 or fewer games 6 times, playing for two BCS titles, and missing a third appearance by giving up a TD with 1 second left against Texas Tech in 2008.

    Yet, here he is, at Texas, with Top 5 recruiting classes, going 13-12 over a two year period in the midst of a transition in offensive identity and the changing of coordinators. You could just look at the 13-12 record and decide Mack Brown must have lost it....he must just be getting old. He must have lost control of his program. The sport might have passed him by....he may have lost touch with his players.

    Or, it might just be the pains of transition and change. It might just be playing young quarterbacks and moving to a new system. It might just be that he has them on the right track, but that getting rolling on that track has taken 2+ years.

    Will they be back this year? My guess is something around 9-3 to 10-2 in the regular season. But keep in mind that this is still a young team. 9-3 this year will lead to expectations of a conference title next year...the fourth year after beginning the transition, and the third year after the coordinator change and playing lots of young kids.

    First year...very ugly.

    Second year, better, but not pretty against good teams.

    Third year, much improvement and a solid record, likely to be 9-3 or 10-2.

    Fourth year....expected to be a contender? That's the expectation.

    That appears to be the track they are on. But could you tell in year one or two? Not really. It was simply too early to see exactly where it was going.

    The question for Auburn is the same. Are we on the right track? And more importantly....have we been on this track long enough to see if it IS the right track? I suspect that Texas is about to start rolling again. Watching their pains and seeing it unfold gives me hope that we too are on the right track, and that we too will start to see improvement in the near future. I think we are pretty much one year behind them. Our 2012, this year, is likely similar to their 2011. Our 2013 will likely be similar to their 2012. And while they are likely to compete for the conference title in 2013, I think we are likely to compete for it in 2014.

    With that said, if 2013 doesn't offer significant encouragement, it could be another staff that leads us in 2014.

    But for now, three games into a new offensive and defensive identity, I really think it's simply too soon to draw any meaningful conclusions. To say we are bad right NOW is true. But it shouldn't be thought of as a conclusion. It should be thought of for what it is....a description of a point in time, not a description of an entire time frame. The time for a conclusive evaluation will come....but it's not here yet. In most practical, real-life ways, we started from scratch with the roster in 2011, and then we started from scratch in 2012 for offensive and defensive schemes and identities. It's simply to early to say what will be come of this.

    We might be bad right now, but I for one don't think we are likely going to STAY bad. Let's hope we see glimmers of that Saturday night.

    This post has been edited 3 times, most recently by jadennis 22 months ago

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  • Exactly right. We are implementing an Auburn offense and defense that combined with great recruiting will lead to the high level of consistency we all want. Question is, can we as fans handle the pain getting there?

    This post was edited by Wareagle0008 22 months ago

  • That's the question. Can we handle the pain of letting it play out a bit longer. I don't blame folks for thinking there is no light at the end of the tunnel...that this is headed for an ugly end. There aren't many signs that point to brighter days. But that's just the nature of change sometimes.

    When the Braves were building their farm system from the ground up in the late 80's, Atlanta was a regular at the basement of the NL West. There weren't many signs of brighter days. But what was happening beneath the surface was laying a foundation for 14 straight division championships.

    Title, title, title was preceded by ugly, ugly, ugly.

    And I'm not so much making a definitive case that we ARE on the right track. I'm merely suggesting that there is a good chance that it's simply to early to know.

    That being the case...we kind of just need to sit back and watch us be bad with the knowledge that there is a fair chance we're working out way out of being bad and into being the kind of physical, disciplined, SEC force we think we can be.

    PS. I should have added the disclaimer that even though I live in Texas, near Austin, I'm from Atlanta and I'm married to an Aggie. I have no ties or cares for UT whatsoever.

    This post was edited by jadennis 22 months ago

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  • Bah!!! Stop trying to throw logic and well thought out responses into this argument.

    Seriously, really interesting parallels. The HUNH is fun to watch but it order to be truly successful, you really need a dynamic QB. There just are many of those around. I think what many coaches are seeing is that with a more traditional offense and stout defense, the sum of the parts will be greater as a whole. Like the NFL, this is a copy cat league.

    My concern is has Chizik built up enough equity to weather this transition. I think he has to an extent. The key will be showing improvement week to week.

  • I say he hasn't with a lot of fans. But fans don't get to fire coaches....at least not on their time frame. So the question is if Jacobs will be patient. If Jeff Lebow is any indication, he'll give Chizik every opportunity to succeed before pulling the trigger. My guess is he gets to 2014 unless he's 4-8 this year and a dreadful 2-4 to start next year.

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  • I don't blame people for being upset either. It is very painful to watch and take. I just happen to believe we are on the right track. I hope we are never as dependent on a coordinator as we were with Malzahn. Great coordinators are usually looking for something more.

  • Thanks for the info. Always great post from you jadennis. I agree with its a wait and see type of deal and although it's hard to sit and watch that's we as a fan base have to do. Ya know they patience is a virtue and I'll be the first to admit I have very little. But I hope that we sell out to the new schemes and it improves. If we can cover the Vegas spread this week I think it will be a mental win for fans. Keep the game close and let us have a chance in the 4th quarter. If not I can see this downward spiral gain speed and boosters and fans will want another change. Unfortunately this will cause this process to start all over

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  • Insightful post. I watched about the first 20 minutes of the UT vs UM game sat night and it became evident to me where Chizik is trying to go.

  • Great comparison. Thanks for your work on this.

  • Thats what I've been sayin to people JA. Glad you brought in the Texas perspective to give somewhere for me to point to back my feelings on the situation.

    This post was edited by Jonesta 22 months ago

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    Fearless and true.

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    Auburn from day one.

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    Auburn from day one.

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    HATERS: H: Having A: Anger T: Towards E: Everyone R: Reaching S: Success 

  • auman365

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  • jadennis, thank you for a thoughtful and reasoned analysis. Glad to finally have someone willing to bring sanity to this board. To read these posts day after day... posts of professed Auburn supporters, is really trying! How better to change the entire focus of a program than with consecutive, excellent recruiting classes and two top-notch coordinators. Will it take some time? Yes. Will there be some bumps in the road along the way? Yes. (maybe some BIG ones) Will the different schemes have to be tweaked to fit the talent? Yes. It will also take support and patience from TRUE Auburn men and women.

    But in the end, I agree with you that the talent in our program will rise to the occasion and Auburn will once again rise to be a power in the SEC.