AUBURN, Ala. — In theory, Auburn football fans should see a lot of new from the Tigers’ offense this Saturday in the annual A-Day spring game.
New offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey came back to the Plains to tweak the scheme, especially in terms of passing. Former Baylor quarterback Jarrett Stidham became the big man on campus in a short amount of time, and he’ll be making his debut in the new Auburn offense (2 p.m. ET, SEC Network).
But Auburn fans getting their hopes up for radical changes on offense shouldn’t hold their breath this weekend, because Gus Malzahn is still the Tigers’ coach.
Malzahn developed a reputation in his coaching career for being an offensive mastermind. He also developed a reputation for being overly protective of his teams’ offense, not wanting any information to leak out too early. He freely admitted that after Auburn’s second scrimmage of spring practice.
“At the end of the day, you’ve got to do what’s best for your team,” Malzahn said. “There’s a lot of information these days on TV and in the stands. So yeah. I’m pretty guarded. Probably more guarded than most. And I need to be.”
What does that mean for Auburn’s offense on Saturday? Malzahn and Lindsey won’t give away anything too exciting or different. The new offensive coordinator wants to see how his team handles the basics first.
“I think Saturday, it’ll be base offense and base defense,” Lindsey said. “Obviously, when you’re somewhere and you’re starting in spring and installing, we’re putting in some new things, I think there’s going to be some bumps and bruises with that.”
Lindsey’s offense might flash some new run-pass options or drop-back passes Saturday. But expect Malzahn to do what he so often does by keeping things close to the sweater vest.
Lindsey wants Auburn to air it out more than what the Tigers are used to doing at A-Day. He said Thursday night he would like for the offense to “get a few balls down the field.” That will all come, though, in the base offense, which players have admitted this spring isn’t too different from what they used to run.
“For our guys, I just want us to play with really good tempo, play fast and really try to execute some plays,” Lindsey said. “That’s what I’m looking forward to more than anything. And then from there I’ll be happy with the way it goes.”
That kind of day would make Lindsey happy, and it would make Malzahn happy. The same might not be said for fans inside Jordan-Hare Stadium and ones watching A-Day from home.
Auburn needed changes on offense, especially in the passing department. Malzahn’s future at Auburn easily could hinge on the progress the Tigers make in that area in 2017.
But, as Lindsey said Thursday night, Auburn is “not going to be able to kind of reinvent the wheel for the A-Day game.” The promised tweaks and the new plays that got Lindsey the offensive coordinator job should come later.
And, ultimately, that’s what matters most for Auburn football. Unloading a lot of new looks at the spring game isn’t necessary, and future opponents will have access to whatever the Tigers put on the SEC Network cameras Saturday.
The A-Day game is just a modest but very public step in the direction Auburn wants to go on offense. And while it might frustrate some fans, that’s just the way things are going to be five months before real football returns.