Morning Musings: At a Crossroads
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The departure of Sean White… is sad, to say the least. This is a guy that did everything that was asked of him last season. When he was healthy, he was one of the best in the league. But that was the problem, wasn’t it? He just couldn’t stay healthy. Coming into this season, White could have started for over half of the teams in the league. Jarrett Stidham, however, was just simply better.
A tough pill to swallow for a competitor that fought so hard to get to the top just to see it be taken away by a newcomer. I wish Sean the best moving forward.
It’s only week four… and we’ve already reached the point of the year where we realize that in the SEC, Alabama is far and above the rest of the pack—and it’s not even close. Now, if you look past the SEC, there are a few contenders. And I feel confident in saying that Alabama, Clemson and USC will make the playoff this season. Insert the Big 12 champion and you have yourself a complete slate.
Now, Alabama has yet to hit its stride—that seems pretty apparent. But the ceiling for the Tide is much higher than any other team in the SEC, and that spells trouble for Auburn and any team Alabama may face toward the end of the season on its path to yet another championship. I do expect this to be the strongest crop of playoff teams yet. With Clemson, you have one of the best defensive lines in college football history. USC has a quarterback that resembles the playing style of Aaron Rodgers—calm, cool and collected down the stretch of a tight game. And I have full confidence that the Big 12 will be sending its absolute best, considering how the strength of the top quarter of that conference.
The offensive line play… has me much more concerned than any fumbles the Auburn receivers lost last weekend. Fumbles and simple mistakes are fixable and are typically week-to-week issues. But the struggles from the offensive line that we’ve seen thus far feels like a much deeper, systemic issue. One that can’t be fixed by the time Auburn reaches the bulk of its schedule against teams like Mississippi State or LSU. That will be the biggest question mark for this team moving forward. If that issue can be resolved, there is no reason that Auburn shouldn’t be a one-loss team when they play Georgia.
However, on the flip side, if Herb Hand’s unit continues down this road and fails to improve, Auburn will be a middle-of-the-pack SEC team with four or five losses, and Gus Malzahn will be out of a job at the end of the season.
This weekend’s game against Mizzou… is about as much of a “sure win” that you can get in the SEC, especially on the road. Auburn is playing the worst team in the Power Five this weekend. A team that is in shambles at the moment. I don’t expect to see Missouri’s offense score more than 10 points, and after witnessing first hand Purdue’s offense scoring at will last weekend, even a team with as many offensive-line struggles as Auburn will have the capability to hang 60 on a mentally weak Mizzou team if it wants. We are approaching week four, and Missouri has already quit on its coach.
So for all of you that think things are looking bad right now on the Plains, you’ll see this weekend that it could be much worse. Believe me.