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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Reviewing your thoughts about Auburn football in 2010

The position-by-position reviews went over well, I think. If you missed them, click on the following to go back and read up: quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers/tight ends, offensive line, defensive line, linebackers, the secondary and specialists.

I also had polls for each of the position groups (except for the offensive line for reasons that I cannot explain). Let's see how the masses feel about Auburn football in 2010:

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QUARTERBACK: Who will be Auburn's starting quarterback in 2010? (out of 1,171 votes)
  1. Cameron Newton: 1,020 votes (87 percent)
  2. Neil Caudle: 59 votes (5 percent)
  3. Tyrik Rollison: 31 votes (2 percent)
  4. Clint Moseley: 28 votes (2 percent)
  5. Barrett Trotter: 20 votes (1 percent)
  6. Kodi Burns: 13 votes (1 percent)
There was no debate here. The vast majority of fans think Newton will win the job and I don't necessarily disagree. It will be interesting to see how quickly he picks up the offense. But, as these results suggest, he might be talented enough to win the job even if he doesn't have a working knowledge of the offense on Caudle's level. It is interesting, though, that in the matter of less than a month, Auburn fans are so sure that someone who just got to campus will lead the offense.

RUNNING BACK: Who will finish with the most carries next season? (out of 955 votes)
  1. Michael Dyer: 505 votes (52 percent)
  2. Mario Fannin: 354 votes (37 percent)
  3. Onterio McCalebb: 96 votes (10 percent)
The majority went with the freshman on this question. Judging by many of the comments, that was mostly because of trepidation on fans' part that Fannin can be called upon to be an every-down back. I have no doubt that Dyer will play. Many recruiting analysts are calling him the most talented running back recruit in the country and capable of stepping in right away. And I trust their judgment. I'm still curious how quickly the coaching staff will give a large share of carries to Dyer. He might be talented enough to do it right away, but there's always a comfort level coaches have with someone who has been there and done it before. I think that person is Fannin, but clearly a lot of people disagree with me.

WIDE RECEIVER: Which receiver will break out next season? (out of 1,046 votes)
  1. DeAngelo Benton: 460 votes (43 percent)
  2. Emory Blake: 149 votes (14 percent)
  3. Travante Stallworth: 128 votes (12 percent)
  4. Quindarius Carr: 113 votes (10 percent)
  5. Trovon Reed: 107 votes (10 percent)
  6. Anthony Gulley: 41 votes (3 percent)
  7. Antonio Goodwin: 28 votes (2 percent)
  8. Jeremy Richardson: 20 votes (1 percent)
No surprise here really, considering the coaching staff -- especially receivers coach Trooper Taylor -- continues to bang the Benton drum loudly. I think this comes down mostly to who can create a niche for themselves in the offense. Darvin Adams and Terrell Zachery aren't going anywhere, so if you're their backup, I can't imagine that working out too well for you in terms of playing time next season. But if a reliable receiver can develop in the slot, someone who is capable of settling down in a coverage and being a safety valve for the quarterback (a Wes Welker type), that could be someone I envision getting some looks from the quarterback. If that's Benton or Blake or Stallworth, I don't know, but I think that style of receiver if the next one to make an impact.

DEFENSIVE LINE: Whose play next year will be most integral to the defensive line's performance? (out of 903 votes)
  1. Nick Fairley: 366 votes (40 percent)
  2. Antoine Carter: 332 votes (36 percent)
  3. Nosa Eguae: 132 votes (14 percent)
  4. Michael Goggans: 32 votes (3 percent)
  5. Mike Blanc: 28 votes (3 percent)
  6. Dee Ford: 13 votes (1 percent)
I put this up fully assuming that Carter would get the most votes, just because he will be charged with replacing Antonio Coleman as a pass-rushing force. But now that I look at the results, the fact that Fairley came out No. 1 was really a solid choice. Fairley made plays last year, stepping up in big spots and not looking overwhelmed by the situation. Auburn needs someone like that at tackle. He obviously had his shortcomings, otherwise he would have been on the field more (defensive coordinator Ted Roof said earlier in the year that Fairley's alignments weren't always right). But he clearly showed flashes of his talent. If he can put it all together, that's another play-maker on the line at a position that's usually reserved for run-stoppers.

LINEBACKERS: Who will have the better senior season? (out of 701 votes)
  1. They'll both be about the same: 317 votes (45 percent)
  2. Josh Bynes: 284 votes (40 percent)
  3. Craig Stevens: 100 votes (14 percent)
This one surprised me a bit. I can completely understand the top vote getter, since Bynes and Stevens are lumped together whenever you mention Auburn's linebackers. But Stevens had the better year in 2009. True, Bynes had more tackles (104-95). But he should; he's a middle linebacker. Stevens had the edge in tackles for a loss (8.0) and sacks (2.5), which I guess you can attribute to him being an outside linebacker. But it was Stevens who won co-defensive MVP honors with Coleman. It was Stevens who Roof praised on a daily basis throughout the spring and into the fall. And it was Stevens, at least from my recollection of watching the games, who had fewer missed tackles. Perhaps this vote was more form a perspective that Bynes has a greater room for growth in his senior season, but in a one-on-one competition of who will have the overall better year, I'm kind of surprising Stevens finished so far behind in the voting.

SECONDARY: Who from the secondary is in line for a breakout 2010? (out of 653 votes)
  1. Demond Washington: 238 votes (36 percent)
  2. Neiko Thorpe: 209 votes (31 percent)
  3. Daren Bates: 208 votes (31 percent)
The most difficult question to answer also proved to be the closest final tally. Auburn has enough relatively young defensive backs (in Washington's case, he's young from an experience standpoint) that there's plenty of potential to be realized back there. I like the Washington vote. He was beginning to come into his own as a cornerback and played well as a safety once he was moved there. Give him a full spring at corner after a full year of playing at the FBS level and he probably has the biggest room for improvement. Thorpe was a popular pick for having a breakout 2009, although he had his struggles. Sometimes those leaps in development take longer than anticipated. Remember, he's only a rising junior. And Bates played admirably for a true freshman, especially considering his only practice in the system was in August. Imagine what he'll be able to accomplish with a full complement of spring and summer workouts. Now that I write that, I might vote for Bates on this one.

SPECIALISTS: What is Auburn's biggest concern on special teams next year? (out of 579 votes)
  1. Catching the dang punt! 399 votes (68 percent)
  2. Kickoff coverage: 155 votes (26 percent)
  3. Replacing Clinton Durst: 25 votes (4 percent)
Durst was good, but Ryan Shoemaker, as many astute readers pointed out, was an All-SEC preseason pick a few years ago. So he could be OK. Kickoff coverage stunk last year, but Auburn should get better just by having more scholarship players to play on those teams. The most glaring problem, obviously, was the punt returners' inability to catch the ball. And it's something that sticks out every time someone puts the ball on the ground. No doubt in my mind that that's the biggest concern.

That wraps up our wrap-up. I'll post a new poll right now that I'll leave up there for a while. It concerns what Auburn should do about Chizik and his contract. Let's see what the masses think on this one.

8 comments:

Aubie, MBA, PhD., ESP said...

Great job! Love the articles and the Twitter updates.

Marmot said...

I hate college football fanpolls (like fans have any clue), but your blog is otherwise great. Take a poll of the team or coaches... now that would be interesting.

Andy Bitter said...

Well, we're a blog of the people. My goal is to increase interaction on the blog. This was just one way.

And like I said, I don't necessarily agree with everything people vote for. But it at least is a gauge of what the fan base is thinking.

Anonymous said...

The biggest reason everyone thinks, including me, that Newton will start is because he was brought in to start. Not saying he was guaranteed the job or anything. But it would have to be considered an upset if anyone else beat him out of the job.

You made some good points on the receiver question. I think blake and stallworth have the best chance for a breakout season simply because they have a clearer path to the field as slot type receivers.

Running back is the biggest question mark for me. I just can't see a true freshman getting that many carries right off the bat. But Gus seems to really like mario as an H-back so who knows what will happen. Watch the scott kid out of lincoln come in a shock eveybody. War Eagle!!

Anonymous said...

I meant howard from lincoln...no idea why i said scott.

ExKnightMike said...

My thought on QB is: If the coaches were happy with their existing options, they wouldn't have gone after Newton.

I think Newton is a big-time talent and should out perform the competition in spring practice and fall camp, thus winning the job.

Simmons B. Buntin said...

Great review, Andy. Thanks.

War Eagle AC-47 said...

Newton has more game experience than Caudle. Newton took his team to a championship. Newton is not prone to throw interceptions. That is why he is more likely to start. I certainly hope he is poring over the playbook every night, and maybe some smart players are tutoring him in "Malzahn Offense 101."

I voted for Fanin, but he fumbles too often because he still carries the ball away from his body. He's in college and still hasn't mastered one of the basic fundamentals as a running back. This is a serious shortcoming and is a good reason why the new kid should get more carries. Ball security may equal job security, all other things (YPC) being equal.