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Auburn Marching Band adjusting cheers to keep pace with Gus Malzahn’s hurry-up offense

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Defensive coordinators won’t be the only ones having to rethink their game plan this year when facing Gus Malzahn’s Auburn Tigers. The Auburn University Marching Band is having to adjust its between-play routines and cheers to accommodate Malzahn’s hurry-up, no-huddle offense, which is programmed to have the ball snapped no more than 12 seconds after the previous play is blown dead.

“Most of our cheers are longer than that,” says Amy Thorington, captain of this year’s Tiger Eyes, the band’s visual ensemble. “When they snap the ball we’re still playing and have to cut off early.”

No one wants that, says Auburn University Marching Band Director Dr. Corey Spurlin.

“That doesn’t necessarily make the band sound good, when we have to stop something in the middle,” Spurlin laughs. “We need to be very aware of what’s going on on the field. After we play a game we’ll get a better feel of what, if anything, needs to be altered or shortened.”

But Thorington says that the band has already prepared to provide the soundtrack for Bret Bielema’s worst nightmare.

“We added new cheers that are shorter, and changed offensive cheers to defensive so we wouldn’t always be cut off,” she says.

Spurlin says he’s also scouted how bands at other school’s have coped with keeping pace with up-tempo teams.

“We do research and everything like the coaches do,” Spurlin says. “I know Texas’ band is ramping up their tempo. A good friend of mine is one of the band directors there, and they’ve cut all cheers to under 10 seconds.”

Spurlin discussed the issue with Oregon’s band director while in Glendale for the BCS National Championship Game in 2011, and more recently with Ole Miss’ band.

“There’s a conference every summer for marching band directors, and that”—how to mesh with a hurry-up offense—”was one question I was asking those guys.”

Spurlin says the band rarely felt rushed during Malzahn’s tenure as Auburn’s offensive coordinator.

“It was a little bit of an issue, but it really depended on what point of the game we were in,” he says. “If we had a lead and were sitting on the clock, not snapping it quite so quick, it wasn’t an issue. But sometimes (the band had to adjust) in high-tempo mode.”

With now head coach Malzahn in complete control of play calls and pacing, Auburn’s offense is primed to move faster than ever. Ditto the band.

“Our job is to adjust to what we need to do, to make sure we’re in SEC rules and not play on top of the snap count,” Spurlin says. “We want the (game) atmosphere to be exciting and to do whatever we need to do to support the team.”

Auburn’s coaching staff appears to be taking the same approach with the band.

“To to be honest, without Coach Malzahn letting us be in the indoor facilities, I’m not really sure we’d be ready for the game,” Spurlin says.

The band’s practice field was practically under water during the week of band camp due to near-daily thunderstorms.

“They would let us know when they weren’t using it (the indoor practice field)” Spurlin says. “That’s something that really struck me about this coaching staff—how much they are about the Auburn family and everybody contributing to winning football games and being good ambassadors for the university.”

Spurlin says Malzahn and Co. met with him earlier in August. “They took the time to go up and talk to the (band) students and thank them and tell them how much they appreciated what they do.”

Now Thorington says everyone is ready to do it a little faster.

“We kind of have the hurry-up band.”


Related: J&M Bookstore tells Bielema, Saban to ‘quit your whining’ with new T-shirt.

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About Jeremy Henderson

Jeremy Henderson is the editor of The War Eagle Reader and co-host of Rich and Jeremy in the Mornings on Wings 94.3 FM in Auburn. Follow him on Twitter: @wareaglereader / @jerthoughts / @RichandJeremy

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