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Malzahn swiftly hires vet, protege as coordinators

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 7, 2012 at 4:45 pm •  Published: December 7, 2012

They've got an uphill battle. Auburn ranked 115th in total offense last season. Lashlee and Malzahn are familiar with all three quarterbacks who started games: Kiehl Frazier, Clint Moseley and Jonathan Wallace.

Lashlee said that familiarity is a plus but they'll still install the offense "like they've never heard it before."

He broke the national record with 171 career touchdowns passes under Malzahn and led Shiloh to three state championship games and two titles.

"One of the most beneficial things I have is that I played quarterback in this system and now coach in it," Lashlee said. "When I'm coaching quarterbacks, I can identify with them even moreso than most. I know what they're seeing. I know what they're thinking. I've done those drops. I've thrown that route. I know all that. Not only am I telling them, 'here's what you should do,' but they know I've done it.

"It sometimes adds some credibility and resonates better. I get what they're going through."

Johnson, whose hiring was announced on Thursday, can relate to the challenge of defenses facing Malzahn's offense.

His South Carolina defense faced Malzahn and Newton twice in 2010, losing in the regular season and the Southeastern Conference championship game. Johnson would grumble that the proliferation of hurry-up styles "is starting to deteriorate some of college football."

He's backtracking now.

"Did I say that? Translated into Latin, that means, 'Somebody help us, we can't stop this,'" Johnson said. "All of us defensive coordinators complained over the last 5-15 years. Gus wasn't the first one but he kind of put it in warp speed."

His base defense is a four-man front with two inside linebackers and five defensive backs.

"It will be our foundation," Johnson said. "But Coach Malzahn wants an attacking, multiple defense, and that's what we're going to be. You can only be as multiple as your talent allows you to be. As we evaluate personnel on this football team, we'll find ways to create packages that complement that 4-2-5."

The coaching change has potentially taken a toll on a recruiting class that has been ranked among the top 10. Recruiting Web sites reported Friday that five-star linebacker Reuben Foster of Auburn High School has decommitted.