Wednesday, December 12, 2007

What Franklin said

Here’s a transcript of new Auburn offensive coordinator Tony Franklin’s Wednesday teleconference with beat writers:

—Opening comment:
"I want to thank Coach Tuberville for having confidence in what we've done over the past two years to bring me to Auburn to take this style of offense into the Southeastern Conference. I'm looking forward to it."

—When first contacted?
"Sunday, I was coming back from Kentucky and Eddie called me. I've known Eddie for about nine years – since I was at Kentucky. We have stayed friends and stayed in contact with each other. That was the first time."

—When did you have an interview?
"That day. I was on my way back from Kentucky. I had been up to watch a quarterback. I came down that day and sat down and talked with the guys that day."

—Install offense now?
"No. Basically, I just want to be there and watch and get a head start on evaluating the talent for this spring. If I've got a suggestion, maybe a wrinkle or two, that would be good. I just want to try to see what the players are like and get around them and let them get to know me. If I can give them some advice that can help, that would be good."

—Talk to the players?
"No. I haven't. I haven't talked to anybody yet. It's been a whirlwind wince Sunday. I just basically found out today that it was going to happen for sure. I look forward to doing that during the next couple of days."

—Cliff notes version of your system?
"The biggest thing is that we want to try to get the ball to the people who deserve to have it in their hands. At Troy this year, we had 14 different receivers catch touchdown passes. … We had a lot of good players but nobody that was spectacular that was great that we had to feed the ball to all the time. Basically, we spread the field. We can use the same personnel in every formation imaginable without having to change personnel. We also can change personnel in and out.
"We're no-huddle all the time. We haven't been in a huddle in two years at Troy. Our players wouldn't know how to get in one if we wanted to. We play fast. We practice fast. We led the nation in the number of snaps per game – 81.5 per game.
"It's gives you a huge advantage as far as trying to control the tempo of the ballgame. When you're on offense, you should control the tempo. The defense should never control anything. They should be defending and you should be attacking.
"We're constantly attacking and trying to attack every area of the field. Every week, it's different. Every team, it's different. You take the strengths somebody has and you build from those strengths. That's what we'll do at Auburn. We'll find out what people are really good at and we'll build from there. Then we'll recruit for the other things we're not real good at."

—Tommy has expressed in the past he wins with defense, the run game and a strong punting game. Were you surprised he'd hire a spread-offense guy?
"Yeah, I did. I was basically a little taken aback when Eddie called me. It was not something I ever thought would happen. But they've won a lot of ballgames, and won championships, doing what they do. I think it's just a sign there are some good things out there besides sometimes lining up in power things.
"We'll still do that stuff — I did it at Troy the first year I was there. We didn't do it as much this year because we couldn't. It's just that everybody's got a different way of doing things. But No. 1 is — I still believe this, I say it everywhere — in order to win a championship, you have to be able to play great defense and you have to be able to run the football.
"If you look at our stats this year, we finished I believe No. 35 in the nation in rushing, and that was with the idea of always throwing the ball first and running second. But we averaged around 180-something yards per game rushing."

—How important is a mobile quarterback?
"It depends. If you've got a special guy that can sling it all over the place and he's perfect on throws, like Couch was at Kentucky, then he doesn't have to be incredibly mobile. Couch was a 4.9 or 5-flat guy, but he could really move well in the pocket. He just didn't run, but he didn't have to. He could flick his wrist and put in on the back shoulder of somebody.
"But if you've got a really good athlete that can run and he can throw with accuracy, all of a sudden he becomes a very dynamic player. The kid we had at Troy was a special kid, because No. 1 he was a great competitor, but he was a guy who could run and throw. When you have that, you really cause people problems.
"We're going to continue to hopefully have a quarterback who can do both, who can run the football and can throw it. That doesn't mean he has to be a 4.4, it just means he has to be an athlete and a competitor and willing to stick his nose in there and get dirty a little every now and then."

—Talk about the acceptance of your once-gimmicky offense since your days at Kentucky?
"If you look at what we did at Kentucky to what I'm doing now, there are some similarities. But we didn't run the ball a tremendous amount at Kentucky. There were times where we did. There were times where we would be in the off-set I.
"I remember against Georgia in 1998. We were running the clock at the end, lining up and pounding the ball. There were times when we did that, but there wasn't a commitment to it. What we've done is, we've used some of the base stuff they did, and we still throw a lot of screens to the wide receivers, stuff like that, but we also have tried to incorporate the zone option scheme, similar to what West Virginia does.
"We've always believed if you can do both, it's a pretty dynamic thing. We've accomplished that by being able to do some of that stuff this year, and it made us so much better and so much more difficult to defend. When the quarterback can run the football, it just makes a huge difference, just from the simple fact that it gives you an extra guy all the time, an extra blocker. It makes your offense much more dynamic.
"I've become a convert the last season and a half. In the beginning, when I was at Troy, we didn't try to run the quarterback very much. That was just something that kind of developed and developed. It made us better by being able to do it."

—Plan on staff changes?
"I don't perceive that at all. He's got a great coaching staff – guys who have been with a long time, guys who are loyal to him and are well respected throughout the nation. I look forward to learning from them, just like I did from my last staff."

—Calling the plays in the bowl game?
"I'm not really sure. I've got to figure out what they're doing first. I might suggest a run or a pass or something."

—Coach quarterbacks?
"Absolutely. That's something that I believe as the coordinator is important to do. I will definitely be coaching quarterbacks."

—You plan to recruit soon?
"The very second I'm cleared to go from Auburn, which I'm sure whatever paper work that I have to do, that I'll be able to do it. The very second they allow me to do that … hopefully, it will be before they go dead. Recruiting is the life blood of any program, and it's something that I've been fortunate I've been successful with, so I'm looking forward to recruiting for Auburn."

—Personnel in the system. Auburn has lots of running backs and tight ends. Do they fit in the system?
"Having a good tight end at Kentucky was something we were able to use because we were able to recruit tight ends. I hope that we do.
"You can do all kinds of stuff. Missouri has used the spread and 6-5 tight ends to play out in the slot. We'll do that, we'll have them in tight, we'll have them in the slot, they'll be in the backfield, they'll be all over the place.
"I coached running backs three years at Kentucky and for those three seasons, we had two running backs together had more yards from scrimmage than any running back combination in the SEC – that's rushing and receiving combined."

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