Gus Malzahn

It’s no secret Auburn football hasn’t featured the same explosive offense this season we’ve grown accustomed to seeing in years past.

Head coach Gus Malzahn took responsibility for his team’s offensive woes during an appearance on Tiger Talk, via

Specifically, Malzahn says he’s got to do a better job calling plays on 1st downs.

“That was one of our focuses, too, the negative plays on first down. The first-and-15s, the second-and-18s, we’ve got to stay ahead of the chains there. … We’ve got to do a better job and I have to do a better job on these first-and-10s” calling plays.

Staying ahead of the chains, as Malzahn said, is crucial for offenses because it allows coordinators to dictate what they want to do to the defense, rather than having to react and scramble for ways to get out of trouble.

Everyone who has watched football at any high level has heard announcers talk about how much easier it is for an offense to convert a third-and-short as opposed to third-and-long.

Auburn’s offense has been far too often looking at third-and-long situations, due to busted plays on first downs or penalties. As a result, the normally potent Tigers offensive attack has been downright mediocre, earning just 85 first downs in four games, ranking No. 56 nationally in this category.

Even worse, the Tigers have converted just 18-of-46 third downs, which ranks No. 72.

The move to switch to Sean White after Jeremy Johnson’s early struggles has proved to be a positive development for Auburn, however. He was impressive in his first start against Mississippi State in Week 4, despite his interception, completing 20-of-28 passes for 188 yards.

“That’s the first experience in college he’s ever had, much less starting. The moment wasn’t too big for him,’ Malzahn said.

As the offense continues to develop with the freshman, and if Malzahn can get things dialed in on the play-calling front, then the Tigers could feature a dynamic offense once again heading into the second half of the season.

Jesse Reed
Managing Editor at Sportsnaut. Featured on Yardbarker and, and formerly was a breaking news writer/NFL analyst for Bleacher Report.