Thursday, August 14, 2008

Prelude to a Season... #10

#10.) Auburn

What You Need to Know: What you know about Auburn is all about to change. Head coach Tommy Tuberville thought it time for a shakeup on the offensive side of the ball. Enter new offensive coordinator Tony Frankin from Troy weeks before the Tigers faced off against Clemson in the season finale. The result? A 23-20 Peach Bowl victory and a season-high 423 yards on offense. Franklin brings a spread style attack into town and with it the opportunity to crank up the heat on opposing defenses in the SEC.

The Tigers had losses too, at both the player and coach level. Defensive Coordinator Will Muschamp is a new resident of Austin, TX. New defensive head men are nothing new to the Tigers, as Paul Rhoads becomes the 4th man to hold that position in 5 years. The Tigers have also lost 3-year starter at QB, Brandon Cox. However, some fans believe the loss will be mitigated by the new system, and Cox's sometimes ineffectiveness in the old one.

What stands as fundamentals of a Tuberville-led team is a strong defense, ability to run the football, and the ability to make plays on special teams. All that looks in place for the Tigers this year. The fact they are an SEC team will help them with strength of schedule, reputation, and ability to be seen by poll voters. But the odds of an SEC team going unbeaten is slim. But as LSU demonstrated, undefeated isn't a precursor to winning a National Championship.

Who You Need to Know and Their 07 Stats:
DE Antonio Coleman: 8.5 sacks, 18.5 TFL

Game To Watch: September 20. LSU. Winner controls their destiny in the SEC West.

They'll Do Well If...: The Tigers have the difficult task of running a new offensive scheme for the first year, but also replacing a three-year starter in the process. That could be a positive (as there isn't a former system cluttering up the mix in his head) or a negative (as he gets game experience).

Season Outlook: By all signs and indications, Auburn should be competitive for the SEC West. With a win against LSU, they are in the drivers seat for a berth in the SEC title game. That's a tall order, but LSU is a home game for Auburn. Undefeated will be next to impossible, but I look for Auburn to finish in at 9-3 (losses to LSU, Georgia, WVU), 2nd in the division.

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