By LARRY VAUGHT
HOOVER, Ala. — Auburn used the no-huddle offense last year to win the 2013 SEC championship after going 0-8 in Southeastern Conference play in 2012.
“We’ve been running this offense system since 1996 and had success. I think if you look around the country, a lot of college teams are playing fast. Really if you look at the high school teams, the majority of the high school teams around the country are spreading it out, playing fast. You can look at the NFL, with Chip Kelly, the success he’s had. I just think that’s where the game’s going,” said Auburn coach Gus Malzahn.
Malzahn has had experience with first-year starting quarterbacks like Kentucky will have this year whether offensive coordinator Neal Brown goes with Patrick Towles, Reese Phillips or Drew Baker.
“Sometimes there’s some growing pains, especially early in the season as you’re learning your quarterback. You can go through practice and you can go through scrimmages, but there’s nothing like the real game,” the Auburn coach said. “In the past it’s usually taken me three or four games to really get a good feel for how he reacts to success, adversity, pressure, really all the different situations that come across in a game.
“I think back when we had Cam (Newton), went through spring. You find a lot about them, they win the job. It really took a good four games where I really knew fully what his strengths were, which he had a lot of them, really try to build around those. But it takes times.”
Florida coach Will Muschamp has a returning starter at quarterback, Jeff Driskell — even though he was injured part of last season. Still, like Malzone, he knows the value of experience at quarterback.
“I think having a quarterback back that’s played well and is an experienced guy, understands some of the venues we’re going to walk into is a little more relieving for me personally and certainly for our offensive coordinator,” Muschamp said. “As far as the new quarterbacks in the league, people are going to do what they do schematically. They may dress some things down to make sure they can execute more, be a little bit more simple.”