This and That for Your Weekend
I expect a big year for Auburn football
(Photo by Acid Reign)
War Eagle, everybody! We’ll take a break this week from the preview business, and take a look around the Auburn sports world. Next week, I’ll get back to Auburn’s opponents, when Auburn hosts a rebuilding Arkansas team in week 4. This week will be a more laidback affair.
The past year has been better than average for major Auburn sports, although softball took a step back, getting drummed out of the SEC Tournament in short order. However, the team is still alive in the NCAA regional tournament in Tallahassee, after knocking off Kennesaw State 5–2. A much more difficult game awaits tomorrow morning at 11:00 AM against host team Florida State.
Auburn’s baseball team has come along by leaps and bounds since the hiring of head coach Butch Thompson. Auburn walloped LSU 11–4 yesterday and needs to continue to win going into next week’s SEC Tournament. For most of the past 10 years, Auburn hasn’t even been able to make the tournament. This year, the Tigers have a legitimate shot to go deep into post-season play behind excellent pitching.
Auburn men’s basketball won a regular season SEC title, which was quite the feat for a short-handed squad. Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl has built a solid brand and an emerging program. Auburn is now a destination in basketball, not an afterthought.
Football musings after the jump!
The football post-season certainly had a sour ending, but we still have to remember that it was a championship season. Auburn got to the SEC title game, something 12 other squads did not manage. And those big double-digit wins over Georgia and Alabama last November remain in the record books. What’s more important is that the program seems to be built to be competitive for the foreseeable future.
I’m really looking forward to this year’s SEC football season. I think Auburn has a great chance. Alabama will be very tough, and that game is on the road, but there is turmoil elsewhere in the SEC West. LSU changed offensive coordinators and is having a quarterback carousel. Texas A&M will go from Kevin Sumlin’s spread to a more conventional Jimbo Fisher attack. Arkansas will try to climb out of the cellar under new coach Chad Morris. Mississippi State lost Dan Mullen to Florida. Ole Miss remains on probation. Barring an epic collapse, Auburn should be in the title hunt through November.
Auburn does have to travel to Georgia in the SEC East, but the other East opponent is Tennessee at Auburn. Tennessee was the worst team in the league last year, and I think new coach Jeremy Pruitt has a big rebuilding job ahead. Auburn’s nonconference slate starts in Atlanta with a tough Washington team, but after that Auburn hosts Alabama State, Southern Mississippi and Liberty. It’s definitely a manageable group of teams.
What was evident to me on the Auburn football roster is that depth is very good at a lot of spots on the roster, particularly on defense. I think Auburn has a deep running back corps also, but there just isn’t a huge amount of experience. Fortunately, Auburn has stockpiled players pretty well. Someone will get the carries and will do well, I’m confident.
At quarterback and receiver, I think Auburn is poised to do great things. Nothing beats experience in the SEC, and Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham has it now. Even in his first season, the offense was dangerous. Until the wheels came off in the post-season, Auburn was averaging over 40 points per game against SEC competition. That was done only one other time in 2010.