photo by Julie Bennett/al.com
How’s it possible to lose four of your last five games, your starting quarterback and the league’s top rusher and still be the media darling heading into the 2015 season? Is Auburn and its fans being set up for too much, too soon?
That’s the narrative that will be discussed ad nauseam over the next six months. Can the genius of Gus Malzahn and Will Muschamp make up for the inexperience and youth that will come with this year’s team?
Clearly, the national media thinks so. Sports Illustrated has them ranked third in their early preseason poll and ESPN’s Brad Edwards picks the Tigers to win the SEC and qualify for the playoff.
Are we maybe a year too early on the hype?
Fueling Auburn’s rising stock is the off-season hire of Muschamp combined with the favorable home schedule that brings both Georgia and Alabama to Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Despite the screams, are we sure that Jeremy Johnson will be as effective in year one as Nick Marshall? Are we certain he’s even going to be the quarterback? A year ago this time, those to the west were waiting on the coronation of Jacob Coker.
There’s a lot of ground to cover between now and September, and even more before we reach Iron Bowl time. Behind that inexperience though is a ton of horsepower. That’s what has so many believing.
Perhaps just as important as coaching and schedule is what Auburn gains that it didn’t have last season. In that category, no one looms larger than Carl Lawson. With just an average pass rush last year, Auburn’s season would have looked different; and certainly would have made a difference against Alabama.
Throw in the heady expectations from Auburn’s highest rated recruit ever, Byron Cowart and you have to believe things will look drastically different on defense. An off-season of work under Muschamp for Kris Frost and Cassanova McKinzy should pay dividends from the start.
Malzahn will have more under the hood than just good play calling. Regardless of who’s over center, he should sleep well knowing what’s returning at tailback. While some believe Roc Thomas will inherit the mantle of league’s top rusher, others believe it will be passed to the nations’ top junior college recruit, Jovon Robinson.
The biggest key could be the return of Duke Williams for his senior year. Widely considered to be one-and-done, Williams will keep Malzahn’s offense lethal. Should Johnson win the quarterback battle, the connection could be lethal down the stretch.
Does it add up to another SEC title? There are way too many variables to know. One thing is certain: a five loss season is not in the realm of possibility. What becomes of this team is being accomplished now, in the dead of winter. It will continue through the Spring.
There are a lot of new talented faces. The biggest question is whether the senior leadership will be there to succeed.
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Auburn is having the biggest crowds in over a dozen years. So far this season the Auburn Arena has been filled to 85.7 percent capacity - the third-highest among SEC teams, trailing only Florida (91.9 percent of capacity) and Kentucky (102.1 percent of capacity).
Those of you who knew who the above lady was before there ever was such a thing as a Psychic Friends Network will get this a little better--and the irony at the end. What do you get when you watch football? You see evil teams become ...Read Full Story
Please note that comment totals displayed on the front page counter are not the actual amount. As this is an Open Thread, you must click on the "Read Full Story" button to view all the comments. The last comment will be posted at the top of the thread under "New Entry". - It was a great day to be an Auburn Tiger.Read Full Story
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