March 22, 2013
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN -- Rhett Lashlee played for, studied under and has worked for Gus Malzahn. Auburn's new offensive coordinator knows Malzahn's system as well as anyone.
And the thing he knows for sure, and the thing you should consider, too, is that for all the movement before the snap, for all the fast-pace excitement of a no-huddle offense, for all the big stats, Auburn will be a physical offense once the ball is snapped. That'll be the message when Auburn begins spring practice Wednesday.
Just to clear up any misconceptions from any outsiders.
"I don't like people acting like we're a finesse team," Lashlee said. "We run the football extremely well. That's a big part of what we do. We just happen to do it out of the shotgun.
"It's a system that is proven to win in the SEC and it has put a lot of guys in the NFL. I think the misconception of the offense is because it's a unique system. But the facts don't lie: We run the ball as much as anybody, but we just do it out of the shotgun and no huddle."
The last time Lashlee and Malzahn were together at Auburn? A 14-0 record, a national championship, two 1,000-yard rushers. Headline-grabbers, to be sure. But it all started with the basics.
"We want to be physical across the board, not just in the line where everybody expects it, or at running back or fullback or tight end. But at receiver, too," he said.
Lashlee knows about that. He helped coach the slot receivers as a graduate assistant at Auburn in 2010.
"The year we won it, our receivers blocked like crazy when they weren't getting the football. And that was the difference between a 10-yard run and a 60-yard run; that was the difference in a 30-yard run and a touchdown run. So those guys have to be physical playing without the ball. They have to be selfless. The quarterbacks have to be tough and physical. So, across the board, we want to have that physical mentality, sort of that edge about us."
Expect that to be the message all spring.
"At the end of the day, as Coach Malzahn has said many times, we've got to get our edge back. We've got to get that physicality back. That's what we want to be known for."