SEC: Al Borges
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.
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville called it a "gut feeling" in explaining why he would fire Tony Franklin on Wednesday, only a day after voicing support for his embattled first-year offensive coordinator.
|AP Photo/Todd J. Van Emst|
|Tony Franklin was Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville's fifth offensive coordinator in the last 10 years.|
It doesn't make a lot of sense. But given the way things have gone for Auburn's offense this season, it's probably par for the course.
Here's something else that's a bit odd: Franklin is gone, but Tuberville said the spread offense is staying. Franklin was hired away from Troy last December to bring his no-huddle, spread attack to Auburn after Tuberville fired offensive coordinator Al Borges. Tuberville's rationale was that the Tigers had become stagnant on offense and needed a change.
Well, in the spread this season, they weren't stagnant. They were just plain bad, but apparently not bad enough for Tuberville to ditch it altogether.
Instead, he's ditching the architect.
"It's not going to change our philosophy," Tuberville said of Franklin's firing. "This is a good offense. Our guys like it. They understand it. They are getting better at it. Again, when I went to this, we were looking forward to going to it and we've learned a lot about it. But it's about getting the job done. I thought that over the last few weeks, we just haven't improved like we should have ... bottom line."
Make no mistake. This is a bottom-line business.
Some of what you're hearing out of Auburn is that perhaps Franklin, almost too candid for his own good at times, didn't fit in with the rest of the coaching staff and simply wasn't a fit at Auburn.
Several of the players following the 14-13 loss to Vanderbilt last Saturday also openly questioned the direction of the offense.
Clearly, the chemistry wasn't what it needed to be offensively for Auburn.
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