Auburn will be looking to pick up the pace

By: sara hodges Email
By: sara hodges Email

*Auburn Media Relations*
AUBURN, Ala. — They still talk of trying to run at least 80 plays a game, but sometimes it takes a bit longer to get a feel for the offense, like this year; and sometimes they score just too darn fast, like when winning a national championship.

Auburn's Gus Malzahn would like to take control with at least 80 plays a game, and maybe that will come this season when quarterback Nick Marshall gains more control of the playbook that will surely open up.

"With our pace plays, I think he’ll get a little more comfortable in that situation," says tight end C.J. Uzomah.

Pace has a lot to do with Malzahn's hurry-up mentality, not so much about the number of plays. Already a subtle change may have taken place at halftime of last Saturday's 31-24 win over Washington State.

"I think just the adjustments we made at halftime, coaches coming in and telling us, ‘This is what they’re doing on defense, this is what we need to do. These are the plays we’re going to run to open up these plays,'" Uzomah remembers. "Obviously, we watched film and had an idea what they were generally going to do, but once we get out there and have a feel for the game it actually helps a whole lot."

Auburn ran 65 plays in the win. The Tigers will be looking for more in Saturday's 6:30 game against Arkansas State in Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Is there a magic number? Maybe not. Malzahn, as Auburn's offensive coordinator and now head coach, has run 80 or more plays four times and won them all. He's 5-3 when running 59 or fewer plays. He's been in the 60s 18 times. The national championship season? Ran between 61-68 plays six times. Ran 54 plays once. Hit the 80s once. Won them all.

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