While there is plenty of blame to go around for Auburn’s inept offensive performance this year, you can’t discount the fact that injuries and graduation have played a big part in the Tiger’s downward spiral. That’s only half the story, but still a big part of it.
As we talked last week, the loss of starting center Joe Cope is a big deal. He not only brought stability to a very important position, but he also brought leadership, which is something sorely missing right now. Give credit to backup Jason Bosley. He graded 89 percent for the game and generally played well. The question is, can he do it against Florida?
Auburn has yet to find an adequate replacement for senior tight end Cole Bennett. Don’t get me wrong, to be red-shirt freshmen, Tommy Trott and Gabe McKenzie have performed above their years. The problem is you don’t replace the senior experience and leadership of Bennett. A red-shirt freshman is a freshman. Period.Something else that can’t be dismissed is the loss of Marcus McNeill. He’s probably the best SEC lineman to come along since Chris Samuels a few years back. He’s starting as a rookie for the San Diego Chargers. No matter how deep you are, you don’t get over that loss quickly.
Combine those things with the turf toe injury to running back Kenny Irons and the continuing leg injury to quarterback Brandon Cox and it becomes clear why Auburn has struggled.
I know what you are saying. Auburn has the talent, their just not calling enough creative plays. I agree with you 100%. That is a big part of it. There’s no question that Al Borges has reduced the play book this year and gone conservative. But I can understand why to a point.
He’s got a brand new receiving corp with the exception of Courtney Taylor. He started the season with an offensive line that he thought would be a strength. And most importantly, he has the most gifted back in the country in Irons.
If you’re Borges you have to think, why not just line it up and run at them. And let’s face it, it worked for the first five weeks. But that’s his mistake. His play calling has become so simple and so predictable that other SEC coaches have caught on. Auburn’s offense is fairly easy to read and as a result, easy to stop.
The question now is whether it’s too late. Can Borges open up the offense half way through the season and have success? I’m not so sure. Can we depend on Rod Smith, Lee Guess and Prechae Rodriguez to make the big catch when they’ve played a bit part in the offense so far?
Good or bad, we’ll find out in a hurry Saturday night. Auburn’s season hangs on what this offense can do against Florida. And it won’t be easy. We’ll see if this group can grow up and overcome these nagging problems.