It Feels Like an Auburn Kind of Year

By Posted on: August 5th, 2013 in Football 15 Comments »

Gus Malzahn ReturnsCall it early season optimism. Call it crazy. However you label it, this season just feels like an Auburn kind of year. Expectations couldn’t be lower heading toward Washington St. Gus Malzahn’s squad was one of only three SEC schools that didn’t collect a single vote in the recent Top 25 Coaches Poll.

In other words, nobody is given this team a chance. History tells us this is when Auburn is most dangerous.

Whether it be 1972, the year following the graduation of Pat Sullivan and Terry Beasley or the magical season of 1993 following the run of Pat Dye, Auburn tends to surprise when you least expect it.

While Auburn had talent coming back in 2004, everyone thought their best chance had blown up in smoke the prior year. And nobody could have predicted 2010.

So what would be considered a surprise season? It’s fair to say that anything above six wins would be overachieving. An eight or nine win year would be mind boggling when you glance at the schedule.

It goes without saying that this is not your granddaddy’s SEC. Auburn could be substantially better than a year ago and it hardly register in the win column. When five of the top ten teams in the country are from your conference, progress can be tough to measure.

Assuming Auburn gets off to a quick 2-0 start, back-to-back dates in September with Miss St. and LSU will set the stage for the rest of the year. A win over the Bulldogs at home and an upset at Death Valley would put this team in big-time over-achievement range.

Should Malzahn’s offense get rolling in week three at home, Miss St. is more than winnable. And don’t write off LSU just yet. While we’ll stop short of calling this a rebuilding year in Baton Rouge (do they still have those?), this team is nowhere near as talented as last season. Getting a split is more than achievable.

It would not be surprising to see Auburn heading to College Station in October sitting at 5-1. With Johnny Manziel melting down by the second, he may not be on the field by the time the leaves change.

This scenario makes a lot of assumptions and we all know what that’ll get you. You can bet that Malzahn knows the importance of winning early. Don’t be surprised to see a quarterback named by this time next week.

Time is of the essence. A fast start could mean something special; a slow one could spell disaster.

Since we are in early August, we don’t have to go there yet. Regardless of what you hear, this Auburn team is mighty talented in a lot of places. Its psyche right now is fragile at best. A good September will put that all in the past.

Ask the 1993 team.

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  1. restless6 says:

    Nice read!

    I share your optimism. I believe 10 wins is a possibility. Auburn can win one of those last 2 home games, maybe both.

  2. AubTigerman AubTigerman says:

    Good read Jay,

    Your right of course, “A good September” will go along way to restoring the team’s psyche. A good start is more than desirable … it’s imperative.

  3. AUJTJarhead AUJTJarhead says:

    Good point about the strength of the SEC overall. We could indeed be much improved and only win six or seven. I hate losing as much as the next guy, but if losses are close, I see that as improvement. Just don’t know what Gus can accomplish in his first year. I do know he will get more out of the talent than Chizik did.

    • Jay Coulter Jay Coulter says:

      I’m with you. Just get better every week.

      • GreenvilleAUfan GreenvilleAUfan says:

        Agree Jay that’s the important thing.
        Also thanks for the excellent coverage here at TET. You guys are getting my motor running for the season to start!

  4. Third Generation Tiger Third Generation Tiger says:

    Coach Dye faced some highly ranked SEC teams during his first season on The Plains. That team went 5-6 but served notice to anyone paying attention that Auburn was on it’s way back to the top. If the ’13 Tigers display the same kind of effort and heart that Coach Dye’s team displayed, then we will no doubt be headed in the right direction.

  5. MyAuburn MyAuburn says:

    With the talent we have on the Plains, the coaching staff, and the Gus Bus already in high RPM mode it is hard not to get excited about 2013. I will not be surprised at any overachieving this years team does.
    6 or 7 wins is probably right, but I won’t bat an eye of we get 10. Of course I will tell everyone after the season that I knew it would happen.

  6. Todd92 Todd92 says:

    Good read Jay.. I still say worst case scenario is 7 regular season wins and I think the psyche of the team is better than you think. I think this team is filled with an undeniable resolve to show that last year was not indicative of who they are and no matter what they will not fracture or quit. As Nietzsche said “that which does not kill us only makes us stronger”….

  7. Tigerstripe Tigerstripe says:

    I want to see the injury report after week 4; if we have a healthy 3-1 team that played LSU close…get excited. We lose to LSU because it’s early and it’s an away game and our boys don’t know how to beat them at their place yet.

    I think we will peak during the second half of the season and end up in a good bowl game along with top 5 recruiting class. We go 9-3 and surprise uga or bama. Next year, expectations will be very high.

  8. AUJTJarhead AUJTJarhead says:

    Excellent point about Dye’s first team. Much as I hate to say it, (and I really hate to say it) Saban had a tough first year too.

  9. wde1988 wde1988 says:

    I can agree pretty much about the talent that SHOULD be on the Plains right now. AU’s recruiting classes have been decent over the last 4 years. Yet we continue to lose people. But after last year’s melt down… I can honestly say my expectations are hovering around .500. I see nothing that would suggest a change except different coaches.

    Watched some practice video of the offense: I am pretty disappointed. We are STILL student body left… student body right AGAIN. I can only hope our offensive line is significantly better.

    I also listened to Coach Ellis comments. I don’t know why but I am getting visions of the ‘Stache saying “it’s a long road back.” Really? Still?

    Can someone tell me when do we get back to AU football? I miss the 3 yards and a pile of dust.

    WDE

  10. Malakai Malakai says:

    I was ecstatic when I heard that CGM was coming back to the plains and for months I’ve been on a AU high. Now, watching and listening to the coaches and players a sense of foreboding is starting to creep in. The practices seem to be run at such a fast pace with so many personnel changing positions day by day. So many people to evaluate. Some players learning more than one or two positions. How can any player really feel comfortable with less than a month to go when he doesn’t know where he stands on the depth chart or even what position he will be playing? Yes I’m used to Auburn not knowing who the starting QB is going to be, but analyzing four at once is just madness. Then again I don’t make the big bucks and analyzing athletic potential is not my forte. Still my gut tells me that Washington State will be one of the hardest games Auburn plays this year. They must sort out their impossibly intricate offensive and defensive schemes while at the same time loose the little voice in the back of their head that is the 2012 season.

    My fervent hope is that the offense and defensive depth charts will be settled and the QBs will be down to at least a two man race by Friday. Any longer than that and the eventual starters will just not get the reps they need proceeding into the 2013 season.