It seemed like Auburn was back to being the quiet, above-average team we’ve all learned to love. Well, somewhat.
Despite being ranked 19th and 23rd in preseason polls, experts are questioning Auburn’s ability to win.
While I don’t believe Auburn will fail to become bowl eligible—like some are predicting—I think it may be a long year for the Tigers.
Although lack of experience isn’t anything new to Auburn, the Tigers are missing 17 starters from last year, which makes me believe this may be the year it catches up with the team.
I think naming Barrett Trotter the starting quarterback was the first step toward building a successful season.
Trotter arguably knows the offense better than anyone else on the team, and that’s crucial when Gus Malzahn is calling the plays.
Michael Dyer and Onterio McCalebb returning to the backfield will keep the ball moving.
Don’t forget, Dyer was only one of 27 players last year to rush for 1,000 yards.
Interestingly, McCalebb has been listed above Dyer at running back, but coach Gene Chizik is saying it’s not something fans should look too deeply into.
The receiving corps will also boost offensive statistics, despite having new starters.
Keep in mind, Emory Blake and Quindarius Carr saw the field a lot last year.
The issue of inexperience is most apparent concerning the offensive line and defense in general.
Auburn only has Brandon Mosley returning to the offensive line.
With that said, Chizik and company did a great job recruiting, so if there’s one group that’s going to surprise fans, I believe it will be the offensive line.
The defense, which only has three returning starters, is going to need the experienced players to step up quickly and the younger players to learn even more quickly.
While Auburn starts the season against Utah State, it is hoped one of the team’s easy wins, No. 20 Mississippi State, comes to town for an early-season challenge the following week.
If lack of experience does in fact catch up with Auburn and worst comes to worst, I believe Auburn could finish the year 4–8.
If Auburn can win all four games in September, two of which should be easy victories, we could be looking at an eight-win season, nine at best.