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Would hiring Freeze as oc be a cure

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AL.com All-Access: Would hiring Hugh Freeze as offensive coordinator be a cure-all for Auburn’s offense?

Updated 9:50 AM; Posted 9:50 AM

Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze talks with Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn before the Ole Miss game Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016, at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, Miss. (Julie Bennett/al.com) (JULIE BENNETT)

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By Creg Stephenson | cstephenson@al.com

cstephenson@al.com

Once it became clear that Gus Malzahn will return as Auburn’s head coach in 2019, the rumor mill began to churn that he might bring in his old friend Hugh Freeze as offensive coordinator next year.

Freeze has been in football exile since his abrupt resignation from Ole Miss late in the summer of 2017, and is set to spend next spring as offensive coordinator of the Arizona Hotshots of the new Alliance of American Football professional league. But it stands to reason he’d drop that job in a heartbeat if Malzahn wanted to hire him to run the Auburn offense.

That’s all well and good, but my question is this: would Freeze definitely be an upgrade for Auburn’s offense? Let’s dive into the numbers, shall we?

Freeze spent five seasons as head coach at Ole Miss (2012-16). That nearly overlaps Malzahn’s first five years at Auburn (2013-17).

(For purposes of this discussion, we are omitting Auburn’s 2012 team, the guts of which was assembled to run Malzahn’s offense during his previous tenure on the Plains, as well as this year’s team, whose resume is not yet complete. Likewise, we’re leaving out Ole Miss’ 2017 team, which was coached by Freeze until about two weeks before fall camp started).

Here are Ole Miss’ national rankings in total offense in five seasons under Freeze: 49th, 22nd, 61st, 13th and 22nd. The Rebels topped 500 yards per game in 2015, and two other times were between 468 and 470.

Here are Auburn’s national rankings in total offense in the first five seasons under Malzahn: 13th, 12th, 86th, 52nd, 27th. The Tigers have never topped 500 yards per game under Malzahn, but topped 488 in both 2013 and 2014.

Here are Freeze’s scoring offense rankings in those five seasons: 48th, 57th, 69th, 8th, 42nd. The Rebels topped 40 points per game only once, at 40.8 in 2015 (I’ll get to that in a moment).

Malzahn’s first five teams ranked 12th, 27th, 56th, 49th and 27th. The 2013 team averaged 39.5 points per game, which is its most in his tenure.

Running the ball was the Rebels’ biggest weakness under Freeze, as they ranked 49th, 42nd, 98th, 58th and 89th nationally. They never topped 183.6 yards per game.

Malzahn’s Auburn teams have never rushed for fewer than 198.9 yards per game, ranking 2nd, 9th, 32nd, 9th and 21st nationally.

In passing offense, Freeze’s teams ranked 54th, 22nd, 37th, 9th and 10th, with a high of 335.6 yards per game in 2015. Malzahn’s have ranked 109th, 63rd, 110th, 110th and 68th, with a high of 233.2 in 2014.

In other words, Malzahn’s offenses have had a huge advantage running the ball, while Freeze’s have been far better passing.

One last stat here, which is an important one for the no-huddle offenses that Freeze and Malzahn like to run. In yards per play, Ole Miss ranked 66th, 35th, 55th, 7th and 37th (a high of 6.7 in 2015, a low of 5.4 in 2012) under Freeze. Auburn under Malzahn has ranked 9th, 6th, 79th, 42nd and 33rd (a high of 6.7 in 2014, a low of 5.2 in 2015).

Malzahn’s critics like to point out that his offense has depended on transfer quarterbacks, such as Nick Marshall in 2013-14 and Jarrett Stidham in 2017. They also say (and they’re right) that his offenses have gotten mostly worse since his first two years (though the Tigers had a nice bounceback in 2017).

The two quarterbacks that took most of the snaps under Freeze at Ole Miss? Bo Wallace and Chad Kelly, both transfers from East Mississippi Community College (highly-touted freshman recruit Shea Patterson took over for the last three games of the 2016 season after Kelly was lost with a knee injury, and the Rebels failed to score 30 points in any of those games).

So you could make the case that Freeze’s Ole Miss offense was mostly average except when he had an all-time great at quarterback: Chad Kelly for the 2015 season and most of 2016.

Does that sound familiar?

On the whole, Auburn has had better talent to work with than Freeze, though Ole Miss’ 2015 offense featured three players — offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil, wide receiver Laquon Treadwell and tight end Evan Engram — who were first-round NFL draft picks the following spring. Kelly probably would have also been a high-round pick in 2017 if not for his injury history and off-field baggage.

Would Hugh Freeze be a welcome hire at Auburn, just because it would mean some new ideas being brought into the offensive staff room? Absolutely.

But would it be a cure-all for a team that might benefit most next year simply by having a more-experienced offensive line? Hard to say, unless Freeze brings a stud transfer quarterback with him.

What do you think? Is Freeze the tonic Auburn’s offense needs?

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If he can bring along a stud OL coach, then HELL YES.

Edited by AUwent
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We won't know until about this time next year....

Wish I could trust Gus but too much history to prove otherwise.

I will say, since it appears he will be the HC next year, I would be glad to see Freeze.....or Kendall Briles.  At least that gives us hope and I don't have to be completely apathetic going into '19.  I much prefer hope to what Gus has created.

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7 minutes ago, Mid Atlantic Tiger said:

Bring a stud OL coach, but you STILL have to have real SEC talent to play on the line.

The OL repair will take years.  It's that bad.

BINGO!  

Even Hugh Freeze's superior recruiting and his propensity to pull a few of the nations #1 skill players won't be a quick fix to this oline, it took a few years to build this line and it will take a few more to fix it.

Hugh brought in exceptional 5* talent to OleMiss, there were one or two that were rumored to have committed to OleMiss before they even visited the campus.  He stole 5*'s from UGA/Bama/Clemson and many others in his time at OM.  So his recruiting resume speaks for itself and AU is a whole notch above OM in the pecking order, so we should see a really nice influx of 5* talent with HF on the trail.  

I wonder if Hugh will want a zone blocking scheme like Chip?  Will the existing players at AU be able to execute at an SEC level in a zone blocking scheme - they are having a tough time of it this season.

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i have mixed emotions about mr freeze. i believe he can get the job done but with all the cheating and sexual things following him would not be a good fit. we are still hearing the auburn are cheaters stuff from ramsey to cam and pearl. i am not sure we are ready for the onslaught. and you guys can say freeze did little and got dinged little but he was the man in charge. i would prefer the younger briles if he has the oc chops some think he does. there were bad things happening at baylor when he was there but he had bosses at least and he could very well be a good person in a bad situation. my main concern is what if gus handcuffs everyone that's  hired? if that is the case then why bring in folks with baggage if gus is not goon let his coaches coach? if i am missing something here let me know. not sure about young briles but does freeze actually live up to the auburn creed. and yes i know we have people that fall short but i have already seen posts making jokes about our beloved creed and i will be honest when i say it hacks my lily. are there not other guys we can turn to that can coach and have no baggage to bring with them?

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He recruited top heavy at Ole Miss so if he were to come to Auburn I’d hop he’d look for quality players at every position especially OL

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Why Freeze over Briles the younger? His offenses seem to be more dynamic than those of Freeze. Houston sits at number 3 in the country in total offense. He led FAU"s offense in 2017 to the 5th best offense in the country (Of course was it Briles or Kiffin? FAU has the 29th ranked offense this year)

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4 minutes ago, SumterAubie said:

Why Freeze over Briles the younger? His offenses seem to be more dynamic than those of Freeze. Houston sits at number 3 in the country in total offense. He led FAU"s offense in 2017 to the 5th best offense in the country (Of course was it Briles or Kiffin? FAU has the 29th ranked offense this year)

I agree. I would want Briles more than Freeze. Heck I would take Briles as our Head Coach today. But at the end of the day if they are allowed to do their thing EITHER is what this passing attack greatly needs. The strength of this offense is the young studs we have at WR.

Edited by GwillMac6
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1 hour ago, Mid Atlantic Tiger said:

Bring a stud OL coach, but you STILL have to have real SEC talent to play on the line.

The OL repair will take years.  It's that bad.

So there is no chance in your opinion some of the young guys can get better? This is a serious question. I know the depth can’t be fixed in on season but has it been written for these guys already?

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1 hour ago, keesler said:

BINGO!  

Even Hugh Freeze's superior recruiting and his propensity to pull a few of the nations #1 skill players won't be a quick fix to this oline, it took a few years to build this line and it will take a few more to fix it.

Hugh brought in exceptional 5* talent to OleMiss, there were one or two that were rumored to have committed to OleMiss before they even visited the campus.  He stole 5*'s from UGA/Bama/Clemson and many others in his time at OM.  So his recruiting resume speaks for itself and AU is a whole notch above OM in the pecking order, so we should see a really nice influx of 5* talent with HF on the trail.  

I wonder if Hugh will want a zone blocking scheme like Chip?  Will the existing players at AU be able to execute at an SEC level in a zone blocking scheme - they are having a tough time of it this season.

I had to laugh at his superior recruiting...you mean the recruiting that got him canned...just a laugh no harm intended..

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5 minutes ago, SumterAubie said:

Why Freeze over Briles the younger? His offenses seem to be more dynamic than those of Freeze. Houston sits at number 3 in the country in total offense. He led FAU"s offense in 2017 to the 5th best offense in the country (Of course was it Briles or Kiffin? FAU has the 29th ranked offense this year)

Bingo...

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Another guy I wish we would look at as well is Graham Harrell. OC at North Texas. His offenses at North Texas have been juggernauts the past 2 seasons.

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7 minutes ago, SumterAubie said:

Why Freeze over Briles the younger? His offenses seem to be more dynamic than those of Freeze. Houston sits at number 3 in the country in total offense. He led FAU"s offense in 2017 to the 5th best offense in the country (Of course was it Briles or Kiffin? FAU has the 29th ranked offense this year)

Just a guess, but Briles has a job and it would be a big gamble on his part if he were to accept a job at Auburn (see CCL). Freeze doesn’t have a job and is begging to get back in the game.  Gus doesn’t have to work hard to get him here and he “trusts” him from the get go.  My worry is if Freeze doesn’t want to come, who would Gus get?

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Not firing Gus, and allowing Gus to bring in yer another offensive coordinator that he "trusts" is only  prolonging the inevitable, Gus is going to  get himself fired.

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1 minute ago, ToomersStreet said:

Not firing Gus, and allowing Gus to bring in yer another offensive coordinator that he "trusts" is only  prolonging the inevitable, Gus is going to  get himself fired.

I mentioned in another thread we are just kicking the can down the road, but our buyout would be smaller.

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I could absolutely care less about what freeze chooses to do with his sex life. I do however care about what he has to offer as a coach. I think it would be an 8nstant improvement. he would also be someone Gus would trust enough to loosen the reigns. recruit a a couple of Juco linemen and good to go. 

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The thing that HF would give us is a coach that can develop a QB

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5 minutes ago, bigbird said:

The thing that HF would give us is a coach that can develop a QB

Wasn't HF QBs Juco transfers?  Same as Gus' good QBs have been.  

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Just now, corchjay said:

Wasn't HF QBs Juco transfers?  Same as Gus' good QBs have been.  

Shea Patterson. Even though he only was the starter for not even a full season.

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1 minute ago, GwillMac6 said:

Shea Patterson. Even though he only was the starter for not even a full season.

i would hardly say Shea was a good QB his first year.  

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