The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
With Auburn’s spring game set for Saturday, it seems like a good time to catch up with Tony Franklin, Auburn’s new offensive coordinator. Franklin, considered to be one of the gurus of the spread offense, joined Tommy Tuberville’s staff last December and began installing his system. The early results were good. He got enough of it in for Auburn to beat Clemson in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Here are some of the highlights of our conversation:
Q. What is the biggest adjustment that players must make to your style of offense?
A. The biggest thing is the faster tempo. We want to go no huddle all the time and ours is supposed to be a fast no huddle. We want to be ready to snap the ball as soon as the official marks it ready for play. We don’t always do that, but we want the defense to believe that we might. Right now, when our guys think we’re going fast, we’re really only going at half the pace we want it to be. It takes at least a good solid month of doing it to get the pace as fast as we want it.
Q. You were able to start installing parts of your offense last December before the bowl game. How much did that help you this Spring?
A. It was huge. What it meant was that when spring practice came around, this offense was not totally unknown. This offense is like a good car you’re heard about but you don’t know if you really like it until you take a test drive. They enjoyed the practice and the fact that so many people were able to touch the ball on this offense. Then we were able to go out and run it against one of the best defenses around (in Clemson) in the bowl game. It gave us a great head start for spring practice.
Q. Who would be the perfect quarterback to run this offense?
A. If you could combine Patrick White (of West Virginia) and (former Kentucky star) Tim Couch you would have the perfect quarterback for this offense. In a perfect world, he has to be somebody like (49ers great) Steve Young. You want a guy who can run the ball 60 yards for a touchdown but who can also make all the throws. The problem is, the Good Lord only makes about one of those guys every 10 years. So you take the quarterbacks you have and concentrate on what they do best. If he’s a running quarterback, he needs to be able to throw it a little bit. If he’s a passer, he has to be able to run a little bit. If you can’t at least do a little of both, the offense is not as effective.
Q. You have settled on two quarterbacks-Kodi Burns and (JUCO transfer) Chris Todd-and have said you will not name a starter until fall practice. What are the strengths of these two guys?
A. Chris has a few things that he does really well. He’s got great arm strength but he hasn’t been able to show it this spring because of arm fatigue. That will get better this summer. He’s a coach’s son and he knows this offense. He’s run some type of it for five years. Kodi is just a great competitor. He’s a winner who has a great feel for the game as a runner. He’s not afraid of anything. He’s not a good thrower right now but I think he will be.”
Q. Can you see using both quarterbacks once the season starts?
A. I don’t think there is any doubt that two guys will play unless one just jumps out way ahead of the other this summer. I’ve told them both that. The good thing is that they like each other and they understand that this is not going to be about stats. It’s going to be about winning. Some games we may run 90 percent of the time. Some games we may throw 90 percent of the time. Usually, our offense works out to be about 50-50. But I’ve told our guys that if you’re worried about stats you need to go play in another league. It’s too hard to win the SEC to think about numbers.