Friday, September 26, 2008

Herbstreit on Finebaum

ESPN GameDay's Kirk Herbstreit went on The Paul Finebaum radio show on Thursday afternoon and was asked about Tony Franklin's spread offense at Auburn.
Here's a brief summary of what Herbstreit had to say after spending some time at Auburn last weekend:

  • "I'm a huge fan of Tommy Tuberville. I'm a huge fan of his style of football, I'm just not quite seeing the spread offense."
  • Every year Tubs has a defense that can play, run and is physical. Look at o-line, that's a strength. RBs, a strength. Chris Todd and WRs, that's a weakness. "If I've got a defense that's lights out and I've got a running game and a big, powerful offensive line, I understand it's a spread attack, but if you're going to have to spread it, spread them out and run. My offense would be run the ball and punt. I would look forward to a punt just so my defense could get back out on the field."
  • Offense might end up being best in SEC, Herbstreit still wouldn't like it because it doesn't complement Tuberville's philosophy.
  • Spread attack makes it harder for defense to get run-first look in practice.

It's hard to disagree with much of what Herbstreit had to say. However, what he doesn't point out is that Tuberville made the decision to hire Franklin for more than one year.

As fans have seen recently, Tuberville isn't much into risk-taking these days. He took an enormous risk in hiring Franklin. Why? Tuberville has said he thinks the spread offense is the best way to score enough points regularly to be a national championship contender.

That leaves Auburn in a difficult position this year. Franklin's been hired to run a spread offense, yet he doesn't have spread offense talent. Instead, he's got I-formation run game talent. That's a bad mix and it's showing right now.

Franklin got lucky, in a way, at Troy when he landed Omar Haugabook. Haugabook was a perfect fit for the spread offense, which he had run at a community college for two years. Kodi Burns could be a good fit, but hasn't run the offense for two years (in college). Chris Todd knows the offense incredibly well, but doesn't have near the arm he once had. Add that to the fact that Auburn's receivers aren't accustomed to the spread and it's easy to see why the passing game has struggled.

I think Auburn found something in Todd's ability to throw on roll-outs. Expect to see more of that this week. Franklin is learning on the fly, and that's not what Auburn fans want to hear. However, wait and see what Franklin does with two years of recruiting before shipping him off to college football's wastelands.

On another front: It sounds like Auburn fans can expect Mario Fannin to move back to RB soon, if Tuberville was speaking candidly this week. There might be plans to move him back to tailback after the receiver experiment has not gone as well as the coaches probably hoped. With Tristan Davis and Brad Lester leaving after this year, Auburn could use more RBs.

You've got to love Auburn DTs coach Don Dunn. After Auburn coaches and players said all week that LSU dominated the run game because Auburn lined up incorrectly, Dunn called that assessment "bull crap." Everyone gets signs from the sidelines, meaning if they lined up incorrectly, it was their fault. Good stuff and a rare breath of fresh air in college football.

Some of my fellow beat writers think Kodi Burns could play a bigger (read: any) role this weekend. I don't have the same read. We'll find out in a matter of hours.

As I wrote in today's game preview, it's interesting that Tennessee comes in to Jordan-Hare Stadium as a desperate team. The last time Tennessee came calling was in 2003. At the time, UT was the no. 7 team in the nation. Tuberville was on the hot seat after starting 2-2 with a team that several publications picked to win a national championship. Auburn won that game 28-21. How dangerous will a desperate Tennessee team be this week?

Question/comments? Leave them in the comments section. I'll respond to anything you might have. Thanks for reading.

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