Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn thinks his offense is going to look a lot better in 2016 because of one key factor: explosive plays.
Malzahn said on SportsCenter Monday that the Tigers have put an emphasis on creating more big plays in 2016.
“That’s really been our focal point,” Malzahn said. “We have some explosive players. We have a good plan, and I think we will be much improved on the offensive side of the football this year.”
Auburn struggled to generate big gains in 2015, finishing No. 80 nationally in total offense and No. 10 in the SEC. Those struggles began with the play of QB Jeremy Johnson. Johnson threw six interceptions in his first three starts before losing the starting job to Sean White. He finished the year with 10 touchdown passes.
Malzahn said the offense’s troubles didn’t only rest on Johnson, though.
“Everybody focuses on the quarterback when your offense doesn’t execute like it should,” Malzahn said, according to Gridiron Now’s Dan Matthews. “But, really, it was an overall breakdown. It wasn’t just one position.”
Johnson is competing with White and JUCO transfer John Franklin III for the starting job this year, and Malzahn said he hopes to know which one will start in the season opener against Clemson early in fall camp.
“All three of those guys can execute our offense,” Malzahn said. “That’s the positive. We’ve got a good plan to put our quarterbacks in competitive situations early in fall camp. And we’re really hoping somebody just stands out and takes the reigns. Hopefully we’ll name somebody earlier rather than later in fall camp.”
Whoever starts will have three dynamic 4-star receivers from the 2016 recruiting class: Nate Craig-Myers, Kyle Davis and Eli Stove. Malzahn said he expects those three to play and make an impact as freshmen.
“It’s just a matter of how quick they grow up,” Malzahn said, according to ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg, “because they’re going to be thrown in the fire early. That’s going to be a position, in the future, of great strength for us.”
All ratings are from the 247Sports composite rankings unless otherwise noted.