Scot Loeffler Must Make a Change
By Matthew Osborne
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Auburn offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler must make alterations in order to positively impact the Tigers' season.
With Saturday’s 28-10 defeat at the hands of the Mississippi State Bulldogs, the Auburn Tigers have now started the season 0-2 for the first time since the 2003.
The loss to the Bulldogs also marked just the second time in their last 12 meetings with Mississippi State that the Tigers have come out on the losing end.
To this point in the 2012 campaign, the primary problem for Auburn appears to be their lack of offensive production.
After two games, the Tigers rank 110th in the FBS in total offense (295 yards per game), 111th in passing offense (159.5 yards per game) and 109th in scoring offense (14.5 points per game).
While neither dimension of the offense has been particularly impressive, it has become painfully apparent that sophomore quarterback Kiehl Frazier has a tremendous amount of room for improvement in the passing game.
Frazier has completed just 24-of-49 passing attempts this season (49%), and has thrown four interceptions to just a lone touchdown.
Although those numbers are certainly lackluster, Frazier cannot take the full brunt of the responsibility for the failures of the Auburn offense. The Tigers’ receivers have struggled mightily to find separation from opposing defensive backs, while the Auburn running game has been less than stellar in its own regard.
Truthfully, though, it is an Auburn coach who should take the majority of the blame for the Tigers’ early season ineptitude on offense.
Auburn offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler, who brought his pro-style offense to The Plains from Temple, has displayed a staunch refusal to utilize Frazier’s dual-threat capabilities through two contests.
Even though the Tigers have only played two games against quality FBS opponents, it has already become apparent that Frazier is not yet an elite-level passer. Although he possesses the physical tools to be successful, like many young quarterbacks who are first-time starters, the mental part of the game has yet to catch up with the physical part of the game.
Though Frazier’s current passing deficiencies have been on full display, Loeffler has inexplicably failed to take advantage of Frazier’s ability to run the football.
Thus far this season, Frazier has rushed for just 13 yards on 20 attempts, despite displaying a prowess for using his feet to escape pressure.
One of the main things which separates college football from high school football is a coach’s ability to recruit players who fit their particular scheme. Such a system makes it easier for a team or a coach to maintain consistency from year to year.
We have seen recent examples, however, of a coach changing his scheme to best utilize the talent at his disposal.
Most notably, Michigan head coach Brady Hoke quickly abandoned his tradition, pro-style offense for a spread offense thanks to the talents of quarterback Denard Robinson.
Thus far, Loeffler has yet to waver from his customary pro-style offense, and that is the biggest reason that Auburn’s offense has been unproductive this season.
To paraphrase a quote from the movie Saving Private Ryan, Loeffler’s inability to take advantage of Frazier’s running ability is a “serious misallocation of valuable football resources.”
At this point, Loeffler has two options to choose from in order to increase the productivity of the Auburn offense: Let Frazier run the football, or name Clint Moseley the starting quarterback.
Until one of those scenarios occurs, the Auburn offense will remain stagnant.
The Scot Loeffler era at Auburn is off to a rough start, but a quick and simple change to his offensive scheme could rapidly alleviate many of the current problems. His willingness to scrap his current offensive philosophy could be the saving grace in turning around what currently projects to be a sub-par season for the Tigers.