Call 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.
Tags: Auburn blogs, Auburn Football, auburn Tigers, Gus Malzahn, jay coulter, pat dye, pat Sullivan, terry beasley, trackem tigers