My Season Outlook for Auburn
Auburn University and Auburn football are two things that have been rooted in me since birth. From kindergarten to high school, I consumed every ounce of Auburn football knowledge imaginable, while I watched the Tigers play each weekend — always cautiously optimistic we would pull out a win. Many of my memories from growing up are connected to Auburn football. For instance, I remember watching the 2009 Auburn/Tennessee game at Outback Steakhouse before my junior year Homecoming dance. Then there was the time we had a family reunion the same day as the Auburn/Georgia game in 2005, only to dip out a little early so we could get home to watch the 2nd half. As fun as it is to look back on those memories, I now turn my focus to this upcoming season for the Tigers. After falling well short of expectations last year, many Auburn fans are down about this year’s team and the state of the program. However, I get a different feeling about this Auburn team. I think they are focused and driven to exceed the mediocre expectations of their critics. Ultimately, I have hope for Auburn this season because I know the Tigers play their best when everyone counts them out.
Auburn is going to turn some heads this year
When I look at Auburn’s schedule, I break it down into 3 tiers.
Tier 1: Arkansas State, LA-Monroe, @ Miss State, Arkansas, Vanderbilt, and Alabama A&M. These are the 6 games Auburn should win; however, I think we only win 5 of them, dropping either the Arkansas or Miss State game. As hopeful as I am for this team, I think they have one egg in store for the Auburn faithful this season. Maybe losing at home to Arkansas might not be that bad of a loss, but it just feels like one of those years where we have them as 11:30 SEC Network game, come out flat and get beaten by two scores.
Tier 2: Texas A&M and @ Ole Miss. These are the 2 toss-up games on Auburn’s schedule. The point spread for both games will probably be 3 or less. With the TAMU game being at night in Jordan-Hare, I like our chances to right 2014’s heartbreaking home loss to the Aggies and pull off a big first conference win. The Ole Miss game is a little tricky because while I’m predicting Ole Miss is going to finish below expectations, for all I know Chad Kelly could carry them to a great season and they beat Auburn by 7. I’m sticking with the former, though, and pick the Tigers to go into Oxford and hand the Rebs another loss.
Tier 3: Clemson, LSU, @ UGA, @ Alabama. These are the 4 games Auburn will be considered an underdog. To me, the Clemson game might be the most important game of the season. Auburn doesn’t necessarily have to win but if Clemson trounces them 45–14 in a home night game, it will put the team and coaching staff behind the 8 ball for the rest of the season. I think Auburn comes out and shows they are here to play from the start. A couple of weeks ago, I had Clemson winning this game 20–14, but recently my gut feeling has swayed towards Auburn shocking the college football world and pulling out a W. Looking ahead to later in the season, I like Auburn to beat Georgia. Yes, I know Auburn has only beaten UGA twice since 2006, and hasn’t won in Athens since 2005, but with Mark Richt finally gone I think the Tigers change the course of this rivalry and get a much needed win against the Dawgs. Looking at the LSU and Alabama games, I’m just not that confident Auburn can pull them out. It would take a near perfect performance for Auburn to win against either one of these supremely talented teams. To sum it all up after walking through Auburn’s 3 tiered schedule, I have the Tigers finishing the regular season 9–3.
Auburn’s Offensive MVP — Sean White
I think Sean White is going to be the real deal this year. Last year he proved, as a redshirt freshman I might add, that he can get Auburn up and down the field. His biggest improvement this year needs to be efficiency in the red zone. Several drives last year fizzled out when Auburn was knocking on the door, and if he can convert those field goals into touchdowns, then Auburn will start winning close games again. My biggest concern for his success is 1.) the inexperienced WR corp and 2.) his health. Auburn has some very talented freshmen WRs, but you can’t expect all of them to contribute immediately. I see Nate Craig and one other freshman WR stepping up big for the Tigers this year, but ultimately it’s going to have to be Marcus Davis, Tony Stevens, and Jason Smith making the big plays down the stretch. If Auburn’s WRs struggle it could really put the Auburn offense in a hole. Sean White’s health is concerning because he wasn’t able to hold up last year. After his knee injury against Ole Miss, he played awful in the UGA and Memphis games. His health will be critical to how Auburn’s season plays out.
Auburn’s Defensive MVP — The Defensive Line
Over the years, what is the one constant in Auburn’s best teams — a dominant defensive line. I believe this year’s defensive line has that potential. With Carl Lawson leading the way, there is 4 and 5 star talent all along the line. I expect a definite increase in sacks this year, and to see considerable improvement in Byron Cowart’s and Montravious Adams’ play. New names to lookout for are Marlon Davidson (projected starter at DE) and Derrick Brown. Both have drawn high praises during the spring and fall. If Auburn’s D-line does step up this year and anchors the defense, it will only give me more confidence that this team can outperform the pundit’s expectations.
A new season is upon the Plains and I expect the Gus Bus is going to be coming out hot this year. Can’t wait to get in my recliner and see how the year turns out for my Tigers. Thanks for reading and War Eagle!!
In case you missed my SEC predictions here they are: https://medium.com/@CollierP/my-3-bold-predictions-for-the-sec-92a08c4cef#.3wsewxrqw