Rhett Lashlee is gone. The Auburn offensive coordinator accepted the same position on Randy Edsall’s staff at Connecticut on Wednesday night.
Head coach Gus Malzahn has been the primary play-caller for most of Lashlee’s four seasons at Auburn. That changed early in the 2016 season. The Auburn offense has been fantastic at times — nearly unstoppable — and mind-boggling in its inefficiency at other times.
The Malzahn-Lashlee era started with a bang in their first season as head coach/offensive coordinator. The Tigers went from last place in the SEC West to SEC champions and losing in the final minute in the BCS Championship Game to Florida State.
Here’s a glance at how the offense has performed in his four seasons:
|Yards per rush||6.3||5.5||4.3||5.5|
|Yards per comp||14.0||14.3||12.6||12.4|
|Red zone scoring||54-61||51-58||46-51||47-55|
|Red zone TDs||44-61||38-58||32-51||31-55|
* In the 2013 season, Tre Mason ran the ball 39 times for 206 yards in Auburn’s first three games. In the SEC Championship Game against Missouri, Mason ran 46 times for 304 yards. It really wasn’t until the fourth game of the season — a 35-21 loss to LSU — when Malzahn and Lashlee started to figure out exactly what they had in Mason, QB Nick Marshall and RB Cameron Artis-Payne. When defenses focused too much on the devastating ground game (328.3 yards per game), Marshall hooked up with Sammie Coates for an average of 21.5 yards per reception (and Coates caught 42 passes).
* In 2014 with Marshall back at quarterback, the offense again was very good, but turnovers at the worst moments proved costly. At times it felt like Auburn tried to pass more instead of leaning on a run game that averaged 255 yards per game. Losing to No. 3 Mississippi State led by Dak Prescott and Texas A&M were understandable. But the 34-7 loss to Georgia in which Auburn didn’t score after its opening drive was the first of some head-scratching performances over the next few seasons.
* Even though Auburn won the opener in 2015 against Louisville, the way the game played out was a red flag. Auburn led 17-0 at the half and 24-0 with 11:21 to play in the third quarter. The Tigers barely survived a big Cardinal comeback and part of the problem was the offense went into hibernation. The following week Auburn needed overtime to beat FCS Jacksonville State 27-20 and it was obvious something was off with the ‘O’. The numbers were down across the board: scoring, rushing, passing, third down conversions.
* Again, the season opener was an indicator that Auburn wasn’t sure what it was going to do on offense. Malzahn swapped Jeremy Johnson, Sean White and John Franklin III in and out at quarterback against No. 2 Clemson and, predictably, never found any rhythm and lost 19-13. Things started clicking during a 6-game winning streak, specifically a three-game stretch in which Auburn scored 38, 56 and 40 points in wins over Mississippi State, Arkansas and Ole Miss. White was highly efficient and the run game showed signs of the dominating 2013 team. But then White was injured and the offense struggled the rest of the season (minus a 55-0 rout of Alabama A&M).