Thursday, August 21, 2008

Auburn Turns To The Spread Offense

SEC West #1 Auburn Tigers

2007 Results and Offseason

Auburn started '07 just 1-2 but quickly rebounded with a huge upset win at Florida. A last second loss at LSU was possibly the best game in the SEC last season. The Tigers won their 6th straight over Alabama. Before the bowl, Auburn hired OC Tony Franklin who installed his version of the spread in just a few weeks leading to a 23-20 OT victory over Clemson in the Chick Fil A Bowl.
2007 Record: 9-4, 5-3
Ret. Starters: 16

Ret. Lettermen: 48

Off PPG:19.5 (10th) RYPG 164.9 (5th) PYPG 154.8 (10th)

Def PPG: 17.3 (1st) RYPG 126.8 (3rd) PYPG 156.0 (1st)

Offense (9 RS 23 RL)
The QB situation is a dicey right now at Auburn where sophomore Kodi Burns and junior Chris Tood are duking it out. Burns played a lot in the bowl game, but Todd played under a similar system in HS. Either way, Auburn should see improvement over last year. The Tigers will move to mostly 1 back sets this year with Ben Tate and Brad Lester both getting reps. Auburn must do a better job of holding onto the ball though. Mario Fannin will also figure into the mix. The o-line went through some growing pains last season, but starting three true freshmen will pay off this year. Only 1 starter is gone. In the new offense, Auburn will need a lot more receivers. The top two return from last year - Rodgeriqus Smith and Montez Billings. Robert Dunn and Terrell Zachery are expected in many sets as well. The one thing this offense will do is generate many more plays per game than last year which should create more yards and points.

Defense (7 RS 20 RL)

Auburn has really made their mark in the SEC with their defense, but they have will to fight through another change in DC with Will Muschamp moving on to the place where Auburn coordinators go - Texas (Gene Chizik left a few years ago for Austin). Three of the top four tacklers return including two starters from the SEC's number one pass defense in '07. CB Jerraud Powers had four picks a year ago and five pass break ups. Gone of the the d-line are three starters including leading tackler Josh "Stump" Thompson and DE/LB Quentin Groves. Auburn will look to junior Sen'derrick Marks to replace Pat Sims and his 7 TFL in '07. The linebacking corp should be led MLB Tray Blackmon, but the junior has to learn to stay out of trouble to full advantage of his talent. New DC Paul Rhoads came from Pitt who finished #5 in ypg last season.

Special Teams

Both kickers are back including PK Wes Byrum picture above before doing the gator chomp in the Swamp. P Shoemaker was 2nd team All SEC. WR Robert Dunn will return punts and Fannin will likely handle kickoffs.

Recruiting - Link

Auburn plays vULM, vSo Miss, vUT-Martin, and a big one at West Virginia. From the East they get permanent opp vGeorgia, along with vTenn, and @Vandy. They play seven straight games before a bye before traveling to Morgantown on Oct 23. They also have a bye between Georgia and Alabama.

Final Thoughts
Auburn is not getting a lot of press due to the expectations in Gainesville and Athens. They have LSU at home which has meant good things for them lately having won the last four at home in the series. Tubberville is replacing both OC's for the second time, but that paid dividends in the past. If the receivers can step and be the game breakers needed in the spread, Auburn could sneak their way into the national title race.

Likely Wins: vULM, vSo. Miss, @Vandy, vTenn-Martin
Likely Loss: None
10-2, 7-1

Next Up - Georgia Bulldogs

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