Auburn Tigers

Coaches rally against recent rule change regarding downfield linemen


Paranoia. Paranoia. Everyone is out to get the spread teams.

Last year, Alabama’s Nick Saban and Arkansas’ Bret Bielema were advocates of slowing down the game by changing the defensive substitution rules.

The NCAA Rules Committee shelved the discussion after numerous coaches came out publicly denouncing the potential rule change.

However, the NCAA did pass a rule last week that shortens the distance an offensive linemen is allowed to be downfield when a pass is in the air. The new rule states an offensive lineman cannot be more than a yard beyond the line of scrimmage during a passing play.

At least four prominent coaches that utilize spread offenses came out publicly and stated the change is merely an overreaction by the rules committee.

“I just want ’em to enforce the rule they have,” Arizona State head coach Todd Graham told USA TODAY‘s George Schroeder. “You’re not supposed to be more than 3 yards downfield. They need to enforce that.”

It’s not uncommon to see an offensive lineman five yards or more downfield due to the prevalence of packaged plays at the collegiate level. Quarterbacks are often given the option to hand the ball off, run or pass the football in a single play. Some signal-callers are adept at waiting until the last second before they uncork a pass. When that happens, there is usually an offensive lineman too far downfield, yet it’s rarely called.

Over the next two weeks, detractors of the rule change can provide comments to the rules committee. The NCAA’s Playing Rules Oversight Panel will then consider to move forward or not with the rule change on March 5.

“This is the second year in a row I’ll be involved in (pushing back against a proposal),” Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze told Schroeder. “I’m certainly not looking for things. If my understanding is correct, the reason they are proposing the rule change is based on a small sample size of plays that the (rules) committee viewed. In those plays, flags should have been thrown. … I think it’s a bad precedent to start changing rules of our game because things that were fouls weren’t called. I want to be clear: I don’t think we should be allowed to have linemen running free downfield (on pass plays). But the rule is a good rule.”

Graham and Freeze are joined by Auburn’s Gus Malzahn and Baylor’s Art Briles in asking the rule be withdrawn from consideration.

Surprise addition to NFL draft: Auburn’s Patrick Miller decides to go pro


Some decisions by players to enter the NFL draft come as a surprise. The Auburn Tigers coaching staff received one of those surprises Tuesday.

Offensive tackle Patrick Miller decided to forgo his final season at Auburn to join the professional ranks.

“Pat Miller has decided to make himself eligible for the NFL draft and pursue his goals to become an NFL player,” Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn said in a statement, via the Ledger-Enquirer. “I want to thank Pat for his contributions to the Auburn football program during his three years. I’m excited for Pat and wish him the best.”

It’s an surprise move, because Miller was never a full-time starter with the Tigers.

The offensive lineman was a highly-regarded four-star recruit in the 2012 class. However, Miller never lived up to expectations. The junior started 19 games over three seasons and struggled to overcome competition, a suspension and injuries.

Miller’s career seemed to end on a sour note once freshman Braden Smith started at right tackle for the Outback Bowl against the Wisconsin Badgers.

(Photo courtesy of Auburn’s athletic department) 

Auburn’s leading receiver ‘running late’ to arrive at Outback Bowl


A week ago, Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn wasn’t sure if the team’s leading receiver, D’haquille Williams, would play in the Outback Bowl against the No. 18 Wisconsin Badgers.

Williams didn’t practice last week due to an illness plus lingering issues with a knee he injured earlier in the season against the Texas A&M Aggies.

After not practicing with the team, Williams didn’t travel to Tampa, Florida for the bowl game.

While Sammie Coates is one of the nation’s most talented wide receivers, the Tigers lose a lot with Williams out the lineup. The JUCO transfer came into the program and immediately became quarterback Nick Marshall‘s favorite target. He leads the team with 45 receptions and 730 receiving yards.

Williams is also a better overall route runner than Coates. The junior, who is NFL bound,  is one of the nation’s top deep threats. Williams was far more willing to run the routes and make the tough catches over the middle, though.

UPDATE [7:00 p.m. ET]:  Due to D’haquille Williams‘ injury status, Auburn’s top target didn’t initially travel with the team to Tampa, Florida, for the Outback Bowl. However, Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn told reporters Friday night that the wide receiver will be at the game.

Malzahn never specified whether or not Williams will be cleared to play for the New Year’s Day affair.

Gus Malzahn uncertain of D’haquille Williams’ status for Outback Bowl


Auburn wide receiver D’haquille Williams continues to be bothered by lingering injuries and illness.

The Outback Bowl is 13 days away, but Auburn’s leading receiver isn’t currently on track to play in the game.

When asked about whether Williams would definitely play against the Wisconsin Badgers, Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn wasn’t willing to commit one way or another.

“Not at this point,” Malzahn told’s Joel A. Erickson.

Williams missed two of Auburn’s final three games due to a sprained MCL and a bruised knee that he suffered Nov. 8 against the Texas A&M Aggies. The JUCO transfer returned for the Iron Bowl against the Alabama Crimson Tide and caught seven passes for 121 yards.

However, the talented wide receiver hasn’t been feeling well.

“He has not practiced,” Malzahn said. “He was sick and he’s got some treatment things to do from the last game.”

Despite missing those two games, Williams still leads the Tigers with 45 receptions for 730 yards. The 6-2, 216-pound receiver has proven to be the security blanket for quarterback Nick Marshall.

If Williams can’t play, the Badgers will roll coverage toward Auburn’s deep threat, Sammie Coates. The junior will be playing his last game as a member of the Tigers before he’s NFL bound.

Report: Auburn hires Will Muschamp, becomes highest-paid coordinator


Will Muschamp entertained multiple enticing options after being dismissed as the head coach of the Florida Gators. Two positions as a defensive coordinator with an SEC team were reportedly available. Muschamp also interviewed for the Houston Cougars vacancy.

Instead of an attempt to redeem himself as a head coach at a smaller program, Muschamp decided to remain in the SEC.’s Thayer Evans reported Muschamp will take over defensive play-calling duties for the Auburn Tigers:

According to’s Phillip Marshall, Muschamp withdrew his name from consideration in Houston after interviewing for the position.

The hire is expected to be announced later this weekend.

Muschamp was also in consideration to become the defensive coordinator with the South Carolina Gamecocks. However, South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier told reporters five days ago that he hadn’t contacted Muschamp nor was he on the verge of hiring him.

Auburn’s financial incentive probably was enough to sway Muschamp’s decision:

Prior to being named Florida’s head coach, Muschamp was the defensive coordinator at Texas under Mack Brown. He served in the same capacity at Auburn under Tommy Tuberville and at LSU under Nick Saban.

Muschamp will replace Ellis Johnson, who was fired after the Tigers finished the regular season as the SEC’s 13th-ranked defense. Auburn surrendered at least 31 points in five of the team’s final six contests (excluding FCS opponent Samford).

With Muschamp directing the defense and head coach/play-caller Gus Malzahn designing the offense, the Tigers now own two of the brightest minds in college footbal leading their respective side of the team.