Talk to Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs and he’ll tell you that he’s noticed a different Gus Malzahn.
The Tigers are in the midst of a four-game winning streak and Jacobs said Thursday night on the Paul Finebaum Show that Malzahn is as “calm, cool and confident” as he’s seen him in quite sometime.
Winning four straight games — three of which have came against SEC West opponents — certainly helps, but Jacobs believes it has to do with giving up play-calling duties to offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee.
After starting the year 1-2 with Malzahn calling the plays, the fourth-year Auburn coach turned over the duties to Lashlee against LSU.
Auburn kicked six field goals to beat Les Miles and Co., and the job has been his ever since.
“Here’s the guy who has been the most successful offensive mind in college football for a number of years,” Jacobs said…”Coming out of last year he was frustrated because things didn’t go as well as he thought they should.
“So he reached back in and said, ‘You know what. I’m going to call the plays.’ But getting into it a couple of games he quickly realized that he can’t do everything. That he has to have his coaches involved. So he turned it over to Rhett.”
Lashlee is 4-0 as a play caller with the Tigers also earning wins over Louisiana Monroe, Mississippi State and Arkansas. Auburn boasts the SEC’s No. 1 rushing offense and the No. 3 unit in the nation.
“[Malzahn is] still overseeing everything just like a great head coach would do,” Jacobs said. “But turning over his play calling took a tremendous burden off him so he could oversee the entire program. Make sure what was going on between downs with defense and kicking game as well.”
The Tigers face another tough test on Saturday when they travel to Ole Miss to take on a struggling, but talented Rebels squad.
More from Jacobs…
On this year’s coaching staff…“I think I’ve seen because of experiences having played here, been a coach here and now as the AD, I’ve seen staffs that were a little bit dysfunctional. Maybe there were one or two guys that were disruptive on the staff that didn’t bring total unity. What I’ve seen with this staff from the very beginning is that they all care about each other, they are all beating to the same drum, and they are working together to get better. That’s what I saw. The character and the integrity and then certainly to see Gus’ leadership where he was able to turn over the play calling to his offensive coordinator and I see the confidence in this staff. They all care about each other. Even more importantly to me is that these players care about each other. They play hard together, but the staff is a big part of it. The way they all get along and care about each other. They work hard together to be successful.”
On how big the LSU game was for Auburn and Malzahn’s job security…“I can’t really speak about where LSU was with it. We were taking it one game at a time. We had lost to two top-10 teams. LSU was a big game for us but it was not a make or break game for us.”
On winning national championships…“I still believe that we need stability in our program. I want us to win national championships, but quit having these dips that we’ve been having in between.”