Auburn’s Offensive Coordinator Gus Malzahn Talks About BCS Championship Game, Cam Newton and Nick Fairley
Gus Malzahn, Auburn’s offensive coordinator, is an innovative offensive genius that developed his offensive philosophy as a high school football coach in Arkansas. His offense, which some consider gimmicky, rolled for 519 yards against Oregon, including a 73-yard drive in the final minutes that resulted in the game-winning field goal. While Malzahn will be the first to credit the players, as the man deciding which plays are run, he had a near flawless night during the biggest game of his coaching career, which is why he’s one of the hottest young coaches in college football. He has already turned down one head coaching position at Vanderbilt and Maryland was rumored to have courted him, but as the NCAA coaching carousel spins, expect Malzahn’s name to come up again and again. After turning down the Vandy job, Auburn made him the highest-paid assistant coach in the Southeastern Conference, more than doubling his salary to $1.3 million annually and extending his contract. So whatever school that may be in hot pursuit of him will have to be the right fit and they better be prepared to back up the Brinks truck for him.
Gus Malzahn joined WQXI in Atlanta to talk about if he envisioned a scoreless first quarter with both of the high-powered offenses, whether Cam Newton was a little too excited when the game first started, and if he knew for certain that Michael Dyer was not down on the challenged play.
If he envisioned a scoreless first quarter with both of the high-powered offenses:
“Well I will tell you what, for the first quarter our standpoint was a feeling out time to see where they were playing. You have got 35 days to come up with a defensive plan. We knew they were going to have some new wrinkles and sure enough they did. Of course we had the turnover and finally got a feel for what they were doing in the second quarter and we had a lot of success. Oregon has got a great defense, they present a lot of problems, they play a lot of people, and they tackle well.”
Whether Cam Newton was a little too excited when the game first started:
“Well I think a lot of our guys were and the fact that you have got 35 days. From an offensive standpoint, it is all about timing and rhythm and we got to the SEC Championship game we were playing really good football. The timing wasn’t there and some of our guys got a little bit jittery, and at the same time they presented a little bit different looks that we hadn’t seen. He finally settled down and helped us win the game.”
The fact their offensive line started to wear on Oregon in the second half and Michael Dyer playing a big part in the game:
“Yeah there is no doubt we did hear about the pace but at the same time that is a big part of what we do. After we get that first, initial first down we are able to pace people and I think too this is probably one of those games too that our defense faces us in the spring and during practice, our defense played great. Lights out and you could tell the pace didn’t bother them a bit and boy was it fun to watch.”
Whether Nick Fairley is in that good of a shape to be able to make some of the plays he made against Oregon:
“He really was. Coach Rock is really hard on his defensive lineman. They are in great shape… I go back to the spring, and I was really mad at our offensive line and we couldn’t block Nick and we couldn’t block some of the other guys and I was really upset. Now it makes me feel a little bit better because nobody else can block him either…”
If he knew for certain that Michael Dyer was not down on the challenged play:
“Well I didn’t. After I saw him kind of go down, I got my eyes on the quarterback and I was already calling the next play. Rhett Lashlee, Trooper Taylor, they were right to my right and I heard them saying ‘Go! Go! Go!’ And my eyes came back up and he took off, so I really didn’t know until I saw the replay, and then obviously he wasn’t down. He has got great balance. I think it freaked him out a little bit too because he spun out of it and didn’t hear a whistle. That was a big play and one that Auburn fans will remember for a long time.”