Auburn Tigers 2012

Auburn 2011 Statistics

(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 fourth year as head coach at Auburn. His Tigers went 8-5 last year.  This was somewhat disappointing following the 2010 National Championship. However, considering how many players they lost, including the #1 overall draft pick in Cam Newton, it was to be expected.  They returned only 6 combined starters out of 22 on offense and defense.
  • This year they return 15 on offense and defense, with most of their defensive starters back (9 out of 11).
  • The biggest different heading into 2012 is the loss of offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn.  It will change the look of this offense completely (and considering I give credit to Chizik’s success to Malzahn, that could make a big impact).  The new coordinator, Scot Loeffler (pronounced LEFF-ler), has a great resume and was most recently OC at Temple.  Most often what you will hear about Scot Loeffler is that he coached Tom Brady (and Tim Tebow).  He has coached both spread and pro-style systems, which is good because it means he can design a system around his talent (that ability in the college game is so critical to success, otherwise, you’re just hoping to get lucky).  This year he will be working with quarterbacks Keihl Frazier, Clint Moseley and (freshman) Zeke Pike to see who gets the next starting spot for Auburn at QB.  However, this will be a much different Auburn offense than we’re used to seeing from Gus Malzahn’s no-huddle, up tempo offense.
  • In 2010 when Auburn won the National Championship they combined a great rushing offense with a highly efficient passing offense.  They were the #1 most accurate team in the nation in passing and #5 in rushing.  Last year, they dropped down to 78th in passing efficiency and 32nd in rushing yards.  What a difference a year, and Cam Newton make (As a reminder, Newton, won the Heisman trophy, led his team to a championship and was selected #1 overall in the NFL Draft in April 2011).  This year the running game remains in question due to the loss of Michael Dyer, who was suspended for undisclosed reasons and ultimately chose to follow Malzahn to Arkansas State. Dyer was the Offensive MVP of the BCS Championship game against Oregon.  This year running back Onterio McCalebb will get the start and he has over 2000 yards rushing and 18 total touchdowns of experience to help.

Running Back Onterio McCalebb

  • The top receivers from 2011 all return, but then again, the passing game ranked 105th in the nation last year, so their success will really depend on whoever takes over at QB.  I went back to 1996 and couldn’t find a time that Auburn had less passing yards than they did in 2011 with 156 yards per game.
  • The offensive line that was so well-adjusted to the blocking system that was installed in 2009 took a hit last year, with just one starter returning.  This year they have three starters back who had been starters the last half of 2011.  They have more certainty and experience, which will help everything.
  • In 2011 on defense they returned just one (yes, one) of their top seven tacklers from 2010.  Three starters returned in total.  This year they have 9 back.  The defensive line used a lot of different players in their rotation system last year to figure out who should start and gain experience.  The numbers were not good as they were ranked 94th in the nation in rushing defense.  But this year the entire 2-deep (starters and back-ups) return so they should be considerably improved.  The linebackers lose one starter as do the defensive backs.  In general both of these units should improve with all of the experienced players returning this year.  Brian VanGorder is the new defensive coordinator, who comes to Auburn from the Atlanta Falcons (where he took their defense from 29th (out of 32) to 12th).
  • One positive thing about this defense from last year is that their passing defense increased tremendously up from the 108th ranked passing defense in the nation to 52nd.