CFB handicapper Danny Sheridan rips Gus Malzahn’s ‘high-school offense,’ says he’s an ‘underdog’ to keep his job
This is truly a tired and hackneyed critique. It is also patently wrong. I’m fine with people not liking Gus. But I’m sorry, a high school offense can’t smoke #1 Georgia and #1 Bama in the same year. A high school offense also cannot set a bowl record for most points scored in a half, no matter how bad the team is that they are playing. This is not to say that Malzahn’s offense cannot be critiqued, it certainly can. It just means that no one should take this person seriously as an analyst. Another reason why this guy is a piss-poor analyst is because he said Nick Marshall “regressed.” Did this guy not even bother to do middle-school level research? If he was really wondering whether or not Nick Marshall improved, he could’ve mustered all of his analytical powers and did a Google search for Nick Marshal’s stats at Auburn. If he did, he would’ve found that Nick Marshall did indeed improve as a quarterback across the board. Keep in mind this is a converted cornerback who is improving as a quarterback. If this “analyst” had actually analyzed, he would’ve found that Nick Marshall did indeed improve as a quarterback across the board. Keep in mind this is a converted cornerback who is improving as a quarterback: His quarterback percentage rating improve nearly 8 points; his average yards per pass improved; his completion percentage improved; and he threw for 550 more yards. He literally improved in every quarterback category! The other thing that boggles my mind is why all the heat is on Malzahn. While we can conjure up some critiques of his offense, it’s also his offense that has enabled Auburn win the SEC West 3 times in the past decade. Other than Bama, no other team has won the SEC West multiple times in the past decade.
Malzahn is unquestionably the best coach for Auburn right now. People act like there are coaches like Nick Saban just sitting at home wondering why Auburn won't hire them. All the haters out there think they have college football all figured out. "Oh, I know what Auburn needs, they need a coach that wins all their games! problem solved!" Morons. Name another coach in the SEC that has done better than Malzahn? You can't. Kirby Smart is doing a great job in a weaker division. How many times has he beat Bama? ZERO. 2011 was the only time in the past DECADE that any other team was able to take the SEC west. Other than that, Auburn has been the only team to consistently contend with Bama for the SEC west (3 times). Do I wish it was more. Of course! Is that realistic. NO! Malzahn is 1 of only 3 active coaches to have beaten Saben more than once, and is currently the only coach to have done it in the past 27 games (and it was with the largest margin of victory against Saban in 5 years). People want to get rid of Malzahn and replace him with a fantasy that does not exist. I'd rather cast my lot with a coach who will have mediocre seasons mixed in with seasons that offer a significant shot at making the playoffs. I'll take that any day over taking a gamble on some unproven coach who will satisfy a short-sighted fantasy that he might be the next Saban.
Agreed, AU definitely had the momentum. On Bama's second-to-last drive they went for it on 4th and 1 and Lawson hammered Yeldon behind the line. Auburn then went 3 and out. Bama then went 3 downs and attempted a 40 yard field goal, which was blocked. Auburn then gets two first downs followed by a 40 yard scamper - Marshal to Coats. The crowd goes nuts. 32 seconds left in the game... Yeah, you pretty much can't make an argument that Bama had any momentum.
"[Auburn] faces Clemson, which...returns Heisman Trophy finalist Deshaun Watson and most of a strong defense." This is a pretty big oversight. Obviously Clemson has the edge in this game. However, they lost over HALF THEIR STARTING DEFENSE to the NFL draft. How in the world do you figure they are returning most of a strong defense? Another thing to consider is that Clemson's defense, with its 7 future NFL players, allowed 16 MORE points than Auburn's "weaker" defense. And now that Clemson defense is loosing half their starters. Auburn's strength at the beginning of the season will definitely be its defense. And with the QB situation only improving (in can only go in one direction), and with an absolutely loaded backfield, Auburn will have an above average offense next year. So, Auburn's strength will be matching up with Clemson's strength. But what will determine the game will be just how weak Clemson's defense will be when it is matched up with Auburn's offense.