In the same week that Auburn pulled off a major upset in the Iron Bowl, we’ve learned that a former Alabama coach relied on some Auburn game tape to get the most out of his current quarterback.
In a Friday appearance on PFT Live, Panthers coach Ron Rivera explained how Nick Saban’s Tuscaloosa predecessor, Mike Shula, has gotten the most out of quarterback Cam Newton.
“We had a little bit of a slow start and during that slow start,” Rivera said of his first-year offensive coordinator. “One of the things that Mike and the offensive staff did was they went back and looked at — we have a library of all of Cam’s plays from college — they looked at what Cam did extremely well and said, ‘You know what, let’s adapt a couple of these ideas and incorporate them into what we do.’ [Shula] took three or four things that [Newton] did really well and we’ve incorporated that and put that into what we do as an offense. Mike has made it work and that has really helped us.”
Rivera explained that the study of Newton’s Auburn performances happened in September, after the Panthers fell to 0-2 with a loss at Buffalo.
“We went up to Buffalo, we were doing some things, took a step back and said, ‘What can we do to help the quarterback?’” Rivera said. “Mike and his guys said they were going to go back and take a look at it and Mike told me they really wanted to do it so we did it. He came to me and said, ‘Look, Coach, this is what I want to incorporate and this is why.’ Mike’s reasoning and his thought process is right on and I was really excited to hear, ‘Let’s take a look at some of these other concepts, somebody else’s ideas. It’s going to help the team, let’s do it.’ I was really excited to hear that.”
Other owners who are or may be looking for a new head coach could be excited to hear that, too. The flexibility and creativity hatched by Shula and nurtured by Rivera is the kind of thing that turns a 1-3 start into a 9-3 stretch run. And it’s the kind of thing that could get Shula onto the interview list for the multiple openings that inevitably will arise in less than a month.