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Thursday, October 9, 2008
Ensminger gets another shot at Auburn

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

The offensive play-calling duties at Auburn have come back full circle to Steve Ensminger.

Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville confirmed Thursday that Ensminger would call the offensive plays and coach quarterbacks for the remainder of the season with this little caveat: Tuberville will also be heavily involved.

Ensminger is only a stand-in and isn't a candidate to replace Tony Franklin after the season, Tuberville said. Franklin was fired Wednesday as the Tigers' offensive coordinator.

Ensminger, who was coaching tight ends and inside receivers for the Tigers, will be in the coaches' box calling the plays on Saturdays. But Tuberville, whose background is on defense, said he would converse with Ensminger over the headset about which plays are called.

Wouldn't you like to be on that headset?

This is not Ensminger's first rodeo when it comes to calling plays for Tuberville. He was Auburn's quarterbacks coach in 2003 and also called the plays that season. He and Hugh Nall essentially shared the offensive coordinator duties, but they were demoted after the Tigers struggled on offense that season. They finished eighth in the SEC in scoring offense and 10th in passing offense.

Remember, too, that was the season that Tuberville was nearly pushed out when school officials and boosters took a secret flight two days before the Alabama game to meet with Bobby Petrino about replacing Tuberville.

Tuberville survived and brought in Al Borges to be his offensive coordinator that next season. The Tigers went 13-0 and shot up to first in the SEC in scoring offense, second in total offense and third in passing offense.

Borges made it four seasons before Tuberville fired him to bring in Franklin and his no-huddle, spread attack last December. Franklin only lasted six games, and now, Ensminger gets his second shot at Auburn as the chief playcaller.

Ensminger, who played quarterback at LSU, has been a member of Tuberville's staff since 2003. He's also been the offensive coordinator at Texas A&M, Clemson and Louisiana Tech and was the passing game coordinator at Georgia. He was coaching high school football in Louisiana when Tuberville hired him in 2003.

The really intriguing part of this whole situation is that it sounds as if Auburn will continue to run Franklin's no-huddle, spread offense. Tuberville will decide between Chris Todd and Kodi Burns as his starting quarterback in the next 24 hours, but reiterated Thursday that he wasn't abandoning the spread.

"We're not changing anything," Tuberville said. "The difference in what we were doing last year to what we ran the last two weeks is tempo. We want to keep all that. We think all of that is good. Obviously, what I want to do over the next few weeks after [the Arkansas game] is go back and simplify it a little bit, try and do as much as your players can handle."

How much of that involves committing more to the running game? We'll just have to wait and see.