DESTIN, Fla. - When Tennessee renews its football rivalry with Auburn this fall, both teams won't know exactly what to expect.
The traditional Tennessee offense, which dates back to coach Johnny Majors' days, will have been reshaped by new offensive coordinator Dave Clawson, a former Richmond head coach with no ties to UT's old system.
But Clawson's changes might seem more akin to a touchup when compared to the offensive overhaul instituted by Auburn offensive coordinator Tony Franklin, who beheld the glory of the spread offense long before it was acceptable to the masses.
Auburn's offense might as well don green and yellow uniforms. The new-look offense is almost as drastic, especially when you consider that a former Texas Tech quarterback will play a prominent role.
Yet coach Tommy Tuberville, who is attending the SEC spring meetings this week, insists he's not trying to become the Mike Leach of the SEC. Auburn might spread the field like Texas Tech, but it won't throw like Texas Tech.
"We're not going to throw the ball 70 times a game," Tuberville said. "You can't win in this league doing that.
"You've got to play good defense. You've got to play the kicking game.
"I'm just looking for more offense to score points and also be able to help the defense."
See. The veteran SEC coach hasn't lost touch with his traditional values. His heart still beats hardest for his defense, which he feels has been burdened to the point of exhaustion the last three seasons.
"If you're not any good on defense, it doesn't matter what kind of offense you run," Tuberville said. "We're just trying to get (an offense) to match up with our defense and give us a chance to get off the field.
"Over the last three years, our defense has been worn out at the end of the year. We just weren't very consistent on offense."
The offense implemented by Franklin, a former Troy State offensive coordinator, already has paid off for the Tigers. He gave them a cram course in it after the regular season and before their bowl.
First result: An Auburn team that averaged 56 plays per game ran 93 in an overtime victory over Clemson.
Second result: Wide receiver recruits viewed Auburn in a different light.
"We were able to recruit a little better in February because we ran this offense," Tuberville said. "We got the stereotype: 'Go to Auburn and you won't be able to catch a ball.' I'm just trying to show receivers we're going to get the ball to you."
Recruits don't have to take Tuberville's word. They only have to watch the Auburn-Clemson video.
Running backs won't be shortchanged, either. More plays will mean more passes, not fewer runs, is how Tuberville explains it.
"The difference in this offense is the tempo," he said. "We're still going to run the football a lot more than we're going to throw it.
Auburn is well equipped to produce another formidable running game. It's four-deep at tailback with Brad Lester, Ben Tate, Mario Fannin and Tristan Davis. Fannin and Davis likely will play a more versatile role, lining up at slot receiver as well as at running back.
The Tigers will add another running threat when Kodi Burns is at quarterback. He will share the position with former Texas Tech quarterback Chris Todd, a more proven passer.
So not only will you have a decidedly different offensive scheme. Opponents will have two vastly different quarterbacks for which to prepare.
And more problems for opposing defenses might mean more rest for Auburn's defense.
Sports editor John Adams may be reached at 865-342-6284 or firstname.lastname@example.org.