With Gus Malzahn leading the Auburn offense, the Tigers have competed in 39 conference games. The offense has averaged 430-yards and 32 PPG in conference play.
Auburn during this time frame has scored 30 or more points, 21 times with a 21-0 record, when they do so. Despite scoring 30 or more points in conference play 21 times, 9 of those game have been settled by 8 points or less (42.8%).
Auburn is 4-5 in conference play, when Malzahn's offense scores 20-29 points during a game. From 2003-2008, Auburn went 12-5 in conference play, scoring 20-28 points. It would be nice for the team to be able to lean on the defense occasionally during low-scoring games like this.
From 2003-2008 (49 SEC games), Auburn allowed the opponent to score into the 30's, 6 times or 12.2%.
From 2009-2014 (47 SEC games), the opponent has scored at least 30 points, 22 times or 46.8%.
One could argue the SEC has become more of an offensive league during the past 5-6 years (which is true) but not to the extent of failing to hold SEC teams under 30 points at least 25% of the time. It should be noted the SEC offenses faced from 2003-2008, averaged 359-yards per game. The SEC offenses faced from 2009-2014 have averaged 413-yards per game. Of the SEC offenses faced from 2003-2008, only 18.6% of the 49 teams averaged over 400-yards per game for the season. The conference opponents faced from 2009-2014, averaged over 400-yards, 57.4% of the time. This leaves no doubt Auburn has faced better offensive teams as of late.
We have seen a championship level offense in 2010, 2013 and 2014. The same cannot be said about the defense from 2009-2014. Yes, the defense has been strong in certain phases of the game but overall the final product has been lacking.
Strength of schedule should be considered too. From 2003-2008, Auburn faced ranked SEC teams 42.8% of the time with an overall win pct of .583. From 2009-2014 Auburn has faced ranked SEC opponents 57.4% of the time, with an overall win pct of .660.
It will be interesting to see what direction Gus Malzahn takes Auburn regarding defense. As an offensive coach, he certainly places a high premium on offense but as the head coach, he is responsible for all phases of the game. This is not a complaint about his vision or direction for the team (too early in career to say) but I am curious to what his defensive philosophy might be as a head coach.