Count ESPN’s Colin Cowherd a fan of the Gus Bus and Auburn.
In fact, Cowherd says Gus Malzahn is the perfect storm of sorts for Nick Saban and his defensive schemes, and it forces Saban to adjust his defense on the fly. Cowherd went on the Paul Finebaum show and talked about the rivalry and the two great head coaches, and he even said Auburn is going to beat Alabama next year in a way-too-early prediction.
“I think he’s going to be a nightmare. I am amazed that Alabama fans aren’t concerned about Gus Malzahn.”
“There’s a way to beat Nick Saban,” Cowherd explained. “You’re not going to outdefend Nick Saban. He’s the master. …
“The people that give Nick trouble, and I’ve heard this from rival coaches who love Nick, is that Nick – like (Bill) Belichick – has a system. When you can get Nick out of his system, that you have out-of-the-box contrarian thinkers that don’t think like Nick thinks, they force Nick in uncomfortable places, to do things with his defense that he normally doesn’t have to normally do, he’s at his weakest.
“Nick is not great off the rails or against unpredictable coaches,” Cowherd said. “He has more trouble with quirky than substantial. He’ll go toe to toe with substantial. So I think Malzahn is built to give Nick trouble.
“I want all you Alabama fans, who love Finebaum and hate me, to know,” Cowherd said. “Right now, you’re driving around and I’m here to tell you that you’re going to start to lose to Gus Malzahn.
“Next year, Auburn’s going to be better than Alabama. Auburn is going to go into Tuscaloosa and beat Alabama. They’re going to beat Florida State. They’re going to win back-to-back national titles.”
Cowherd also said that Malzahn will be to Saban what Saban was to Urban Meyer at Florida. He also made the comparison of what Oregon’s Chip Kelly was to Pete Carroll at USC.
Gus’ style of play has proven to be Alabama’s Achilles heel. For Saban, playing great defense is all about winning with great matchups, and when teams hurry-up, no-huddle like Auburn (and others), Saban can’t sub to get the favorable matchups he needs.
So, how does Saban combat this style of play?
He’s going to have to recruit specifically for teams like Texas A&M and Auburn. That means lighter defensive ends and linebackers that can play tempo with the offense. It’s almost like he’s going to have to play his normal style of defense against every team not named Texas A&M, Ole Miss and Auburn. Then, he’ll play more hybrid-type or very elite linebackers and ends against teams that play tempo.
Nonetheless, with Saban and Malzahn, as it stands now, the Iron Bowl Rivalry is going to be the SEC’s most important game year after year. It’s sets up for a fascinating and epic future.
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