Take Two: Does Gus Malzahn need to win big to save his job?
Take Two returns with a daily offering tackling a handful of issues in the college football landscape. Rivals.com National Recruiting Analyst Adam Gorney lays out the situation and then receives takes from Rivals.com National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell and a local expert from the Rivals.com network of team sites.
This was supposed to be the season Auburn’s offense went to another level. A new offensive coordinator in Chip Lindsey with a strong reputation. A junior college quarterback transfer who many on The Plains hoped could turn around a struggling bunch.
There was hope. And then there was Clemson.
Clemson sacked Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham 11 times in Saturday’s 14-6 win, many because there didn’t seem to be a short or intermediate passing game. Stidham tried to dodge and tried to move as best he could but the Clemson defenders never stopped coming.
It would be the end of Auburn on Saturday night. Holding the national champs to 14 points would probably mean a big upset victory and a statement that Auburn is a national title contender.
Instead, Auburn was held to two early field goals when both could have been touchdown drives and then its offense just got overwhelmed. But why no major, successful in-game adjustments?
And, so, the question? Is Auburn growing quickly tired of Malzahn’s inability to reinvigorate the offense? Does he have to win – and win big this season – to keep his job or does he have time to build things as he sees fit over the coming years?
FIRST TAKE: BRYAN MATTHEWS, AUBURNSPORTS.COM
“Gus Malzahn's seat is definitely warming up after the performance of Auburn's offense at No. 3 Clemson. Expectations were high after Malzahn brought in a new offensive coordinator and signed Stidham in January, but Saturday's 117 total yards and 11 sacks are the worst in Malzahn's coaching career. Clemson deserves credit for having a great defense but from Auburn's perspective, the offense has to pick up considerably in the coming weeks and definitely show up better against top 10 opponents, which Auburn has lost to five-straight times. As an added issue, Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs is also under fire due to allegations of mismanagement of a Title IX investigation into the softball program, and new university president Steven Leath just took over in June. Needless to say, there's a lot of uncertainty in the Auburn athletic department right now.” – Matthews
SECOND TAKE: MIKE FARRELL, RIVALS.COM
“Auburn had a chance last year to beat Clemson and the quarterback struggles kept that from happening. This year the Tigers just didn’t adjust properly to that Clemson pass rush. Offensive gurus such as Malzahn are supposed to make good in-game adjustments. You just didn’t see that Saturday. There was no adjustment whatsoever for the pass rush. Auburn didn’t change anything it was doing to try to get Stidham into a short passing game or into a faster rhythm. Malzahn's seat isn’t that hot. Clemson is a great team and Auburn lost on the road by eight points. Let’s not go crazy saying Malzahn needs to be fired. But there are a lot of concerns of quarterback development and offensive scheme as well as in-game adjustments.” – Farrell