March 22, 2013
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN - Kiehl Frazier. Tre Mason. Trovon Reed. Reese Dismukes.
Those are some of the offensive players who were around when Gus Malzahn's offense last took the field at Auburn in 2011.
Those players are back for the 2013 version, too, the one in which Malzahn is now the head coach and Rhett Lashlee is the offensive coordinator.
Is that a plus?
"It can only help to have some carryover," Lashlee says.
The roster is dotted with other players who were on board with Malzahn when he was the offensive coordinator. Other players were recruited to the system as well.
But not everybody is familiar with the offense, not after spending 2012 in a pro-set offense, and that's why Auburn will flip back to Page 1 of the playbook when spring practice begins Wednesday.
"We're going to approach it as it's completely new to everybody. We're going to start from the ground up. I think that's the way to do it," Lashlee said. "Any time you go from a completely new system to a different one there's going to be some learning curve. But I do think the system that we run the new guys will pick it up.
"I do feel good that we have good kids, good athletes, that have played a similar-style system, either in high school or junior college. There is some familiarity in what we do."
Malzahn's offense has produced records everywhere he's been. Auburn, too. So will the schemes and things seem like old times to Auburn fans?
"Big picture, yes," Lashlee said. "It's a system that Coach Malzahn has been running for 20-plus years. It's been successful at every level, and it's proven. "We're not going to re-invent the wheel. When people see it, they'll say, 'OK, yeah, from the no-huddle to the sets to some of the base plays.' But we're like everybody else in the country. You're going to evolve.
"Last year, we did some things (at Arkansas State) that we've never done before to fit our personnel. Our philosophy is we're going to do what we do, but we're also going to take our system and fit it to our personnel to give our guys the best chance to be successful."