AUBURN, Ala. –Some members of the more traditional sect of Auburn’s fanbase shuddered when the news broke about spread offense guru Tony Franklin becoming the Tigers’ new offensive coordinator.
The spread offense? At Auburn? Running Back U?
Not to worry, Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville continues to declare. He might have decided to be a bit more forward-thinking in his approach toward offensive strategy, but the toughness that has been the trademark of his Auburn teams and those that preceded it will remain.
“If we wanted to consistently say, ‘OK, we’re gonna stay with winning eight, nine games, sometimes maybe win 10,’ I think we could have stayed with the two-back offense,” Tuberville said. “We are gonna run it. We’re still going to be physical.”
Franklin came to Auburn from Troy, where he turned an offense that was among the worst in the nation into one of the most productive in only two years.
He’ll face a similar reclamation project this year, hoping to turn around an offense that ranked 97th in the nation in total offense and 103rd in passing offense a year ago, when the Tigers were overly conservative in their playcalling.
“Over the years we’ve had a good football team. You know, just playing defense, solid kicking game, saying we’re gonna line up and run the football at you,” Tuberville said. “It’s hard in this league to consistently pound and pound the ball. People were ganging up on us.”
After Franklin was named as Al Borges’ replacement, he had only eight days of bowl practice to install his offense before the Tigers squared off with Clemson in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. And yet the difference in productivity was staggering.