Auburn 2011

(SEC) The Tigers play on a grass field at Jordan-Hare Stadium (seats 87,451 and Jordan is pronounced Jerdin)
  • Gene Chizik is in his third year as head coach at Auburn.  His Tigers went 14-0 last year and won the national championshipChizik also won a nice new contract.  In two years at Auburn Chizik’s record is 22-5.  Interestingly enough, in his two years as head coach at Iowa State he was just 5-19.  It’s amazing the difference a school, a conference (SEC) and perhaps an offensive coordinator can make.
  • How did Auburn win the national championship last year?

    Offensie Coordinator Gus Malzahn

    Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn’s no-huddle, up tempo offense.  He claims this is NOT a spread offense—and with the spread these days we mean option (teams “spread” out as a means to execute the option).  Malzahn has a creative approach to spread formations and a power run game. He likes to use myriad formations and motions and do it quickly…the scheme is secondary.

  • What you really need to know is that they move the ball the way most teams do with the same sort of plays, but they just start off in different formations so that it becomes more difficult for defenders to recognize the plays before they completely unfold. And the fact that they go so quickly means that defenses have less time to decipher these “new looks.” In addition, oftentimes in football the way players are taught to recognize what the other side is doing is by watching a particular person. For a defender, the offensive guard will generally tell you what the offense is doing by the direction he is moving in. Malzahn uses this against defenders by mixing up those key signals.
  • In 2010 Auburn combined a great rushing offense with a highly efficient passing offense.  They may not have passed for that many yards, but when they did choose to throw the ball, they were the #1 most accurate team in the nation.  Add that to the #5 rushing offense and you end up with the #7 scoring offense in the country.  Incidentally they ranked 1st in the SEC in all of those categories (rushing, scoring, passing efficiency).
  • What helped their offensive success last year was the fact that the offensive line was in great shape with highly experienced starters who were well-adjusted to the blocking system that had been implemented in 2009.  Unfortunately, this year they have just one starter return on the offensive line.
  • Last year they had #1 overall NFL Draft pick Cam Newton at Quarterback.  This year they are breaking in a new quarterback.  Whoever it ends up will be replacing a quarterback who this offensive system was practically designed for.  As of August, it still isn’t clear if that starting quarterback is going to be the junior Barrett Trotter, sophomore Clint Moseley or true freshman Kiehl Frazier who joined in the mix in May when he graduated high school.  Both Trotter and Moseley enter their third season under Malzahn’s scheme, which should be very helpful.   And even though Kiehl will be adjusting to a much faster and difficult game at this next level, he played in a similar offense in high school. According to Malzahn, there are still a lot of pieces to put in place on offense and they need to observe the intangibles as well to see who wins the job.
  • The top two receivers are gone.  But at least the offense has

    Running Back Michael Dyer

    running back Michael Dyer returning as he is just a sophomore.  He was the Offensive MVP of the BCS Championship game against Oregon.  Running back Onterio McCalebb also returns.  But despite these two great rushers, Cam Newton was the leading rusher on this team in 2010 and had more rushing attempts than Dyer and McCalebb combined.

  • On defense they return just one (yes, one) of their top seven tacklers from 2010 and lose 1st round NFL Draft pick Nick Fairley, who was also Defensive MVP of the BCS Championship game.  The defensive line was responsible for leading Auburn to the 9th ranked rushing defense in the country and this year just one starter returns.  Just one linebacker returns and that will effect both the rushing and passing defense.  And the passing defense really needs the help as this team somehow won a national championship with the 108th ranked passing defense in the nation.
  • Overall, the 2011 Auburn Tigers bear very little resemblance to the 2010 team that won the national championship.  The schedule is tough, especially with two tough games against Mississippi State and Alabama as well as road games at Clemson, at South Carolina, at LSU, at Georgia.  It would be very difficult for an Auburn team that returns only 6 combined starters out of 22 on offense and defense to be able to win those games, which makes a 7-win regular season seem more like their reality this year.  But what Auburn does have going for it by having to replace so many players is that they don’t have the issues of complacency or entitlement that can plague teams in their position.  This group consists almost entirely of a bunch of guys trying to prove themselves.  And hunger means a lot in this game.  Furthermore, if you look at the talent they are replacing, they only had 4 (yes, four) players from last year’s team drafted this past April.  And only two of them were taken in the first 6 rounds (that’s an example of using statistics to prove your point–why am I using 6 rounds if there are 7 rounds total?  Because two players were drafted in the 7th and final round).  Regardless of what happens, the Auburn Tigers are the defending national champions and get to enjoy that for the rest of 2011.

Related Posts