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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

SI's Mandel: Auburn not a 'one-year fix'

Saw this in Stewart Mandel's college football mailbag on SportsIllustrated.com. Seems like a pretty accurate assessment:

With everyone hyping Ole Miss, Alabama and LSU in the SEC West, do you think Auburn will sneak up on some teams with Gus Malzahn's offense?
-- @Sregit (via Twitter)

I honestly have no idea what to make of Auburn. On the one hand, I have a lot of respect for offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, who helped Arkansas win the division in 2006 and lit up scoreboards at Tulsa the past two years. On the other hand -- you saw Auburn's offense last year. It seemed at times the Tigers were literally trying to move backward. Obviously, the staff had as much to do with it as the players (Tommy Tuberville's old-guard staff neither embraced new coordinator Tony Franklin's spread offense, nor learned how to teach it to the players), but you don't finish 104th in total offense without some serious holes.

The hope on The Plains is previously forgotten quarterback Neil Caudle, who shined in the spring game, will beat out 2008 duds Kodi Burns and Chris Todd, and that the offense will morph into Tulsa-lite. The more realistic goal for this season is Auburn will at least cut down on the amount of mistakes it made last year, run the ball more effectively and not force the defense -- which should remain stout under respected coordinator Ted Roof -- to spend the whole day on the field. I could definitely see Auburn getting back above .500, but the Tigers will still be a step or two behind Alabama/LSU/Ole Miss. That team is not a one-year fix.

I don't know how much stock I would put into Caudle's A-Day performance (11-16, 161 yards 2 TD), considering it came against third- and fourth-stringers. The fact that he didn't beat out the competition in the spring tells me Malzahn isn't exactly enamored with any of his quarterbacks right now, which is a major issue heading into August.

I've long said Auburn fans should be happy with a 7-5 season and a return trip to a bowl game. I still think that is the most likely scenario.


campbellodeon said...

I hate to say it, but I would be thrilled with 7 wins and a bowl game. In reality, all Coach Chizik has to do is win 6 games -> that is more that Tuberville won last year and more than Coach Chizik won in two years at Ames.

I agree with Mandel that Auburn is not a one-year fix, thanks to Tuberville and his cronies. But I think a young staff with something to prove has us in better shape than we have been since complacency set in after the undefeated season.

Adam said...

Funny, because these are mostly the same players who were picked to win the West last year and were a preseason Top 10 team. I'm gonna have to disagree here, I see no reason Auburn shouldn't win 8 games or possibly 9 this year.

Matt said...

I tend to agree with you Adam. Depending on if the QB's play mistake free football and the amount of injuries that pile up on the O-line and LB corps, I think Auburn should win 7-9 games. The defense is still going to be solid as usual so managing to score 24 or so on average should at least have us in each game with a chance to win...just think if we had averaged that last year...

Seil said...

I beg to differ. I do not think Auburn is anywhere behind Ole Miss. Ole Miss has produced one winning season out of the last five, Auburn the opposite. I think a likely scenario is the predicted roles for Auburn and Ole Miss reverse by season's end. It is important to note momentum in college football does not carry from one season to the next. I would not be surprised by a dramatic drop off in Ole Miss' performance.