What Auburn is Getting in New OC Austin Davis

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DAVIS PHOTO PROVIDED BY SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

By Wil Crews
sportscrews@opelikaobserver.com

Eighteen days after Auburn fired 2021 offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, the Tigers have their new guy.

Austin Davis, a seven-year NFL veteran and current quarterbacks coach for the Seattle Seahawks was announced Saturday as the new offensive coordinator for Auburn.

“I’m honored and privileged to be the next offensive coordinator at Auburn University and to be a part of an elite staff led by coach Harsin,” Davis said. “Being born and raised in Mississippi, you know very well what SEC football is all about and I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity that is before me. I’ve been very fortunate to work for one of the best organizations in all of sports and would like to extend a special thanks to Pete Carroll and John Schneider for believing in me as a young coach. I can’t wait to get down to the Plains and get to work. War Eagle, y’all.”

Davis was a two-time All-Conference USA player at Southern Miss during his college days, and has spent the last three seasons with the Seahawks, learning under the tutelage of former USC head coach Pete Carroll and alongside Super Bowl champion and eight-time pro bowl quarterback Russell Wilson.

Carroll has called the 32-year-old Davis “one of the bright young minds in the game”, and stated “he’s been able to transition from player to coach unlike anybody I’ve ever seen. It was just so smooth for him, and he’s been thinking like a coach for a long time, obviously because he was able to capture the role.

“Russ (Wilson) thinks the world of him, Shane (Waldron) thinks the world of him and I do too because he is really, really good at what he does. He is going to really be a big benefit to their program.”

In Davis’ first season as quarterbacks coach, Wilson set the franchise record for touchdown passes, completions and completion percentage.

Wilson has called Davis “an amazing teacher,” and said that he will “be a brilliant offensive coordinator and potential head coach one day.”

High praise from one of the game’s best players.

But how will Davis transition to college coaching and will he fit in on The Plains?

Well, we know the Mississippian will have no trouble adjusting to a Southern lifestyle. His time spent in at Southern Miss hopefully built up some of his recruiting connections as well. He’s young, too, which will hopefully lend to him relating to the college players more easily.

But will he immediately take the reins of Harsin’s offense, or will we see some sort of conglomerate of offensive coaching in 2022.

With the way recent offensive coordinator hires have gone at Auburn — three have come and gone in as many seasons — I’m hoping for the later. And here’s why.

For starters, Harsin himself is an admitted offensive guy. He earned plaudits for the effectiveness and efficiency of his offenses during his time as offensive coordinator at Texas and head coach at Boise State.

To truly get the full Harsin experience, the head coach needs to be the one calling plays. Harsin calling plays doesn’t necessarily mean lessening the impact of Davis, however.

Hopefully, Davis can come into Auburn and immediately address one Cam Newton-sized hole within the program — development. I call it a Newton-sized hole because every quarterback since the 2010 Heisman winner has struggled to progress during their time on The Plains.

Under former head coach Gus Malzahn, quarterback development was arguably the main thing that held back the Tigers from reaching their potential. Sean White, Jeremy Johnson, Jarrett Stidham and yes, Bo Nix, all regressed during their time at Auburn. The only exception may be Nick Marshall, although his second season leading the team did not quite reach the levels of 2013’s National Championship-appearing Tigers.

With the help of trusted receivers coach — and former Fresno State offensive coordinator — Eric Kiesau, Harsin should be able to keep his focus on the weekly offensive game plan. Additionally, he will be assisted in elevating the talented quarterbacks on Auburn’s roster.

The fact that the three-year starter Nix is on the way to Oregon makes this fact even more paramount.

If Davis takes on this role and wholeheartedly buys into Harin’s system, Auburn’s offensive coaching staff could boast three elite-level football minds, all on the page and working toward the same goal. Maybe that we be enough to buck the recent O.C. trend and the marriage between Davis and the Tigers will be fruitful and long-lasting.

“From the first conversation I had with Austin, you could just feel his passion for coaching and teaching the game,” Harsin said. “He’s spent the past 10 years as a player or coach in the NFL, bringing that experience from the highest level into our offensive and quarterback rooms. He’s learned and been around some of the best in the business and has been on an upward trajectory since joining the coaching ranks. We can’t wait to get him teamed up with the rest of our staff.”

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