2008 Auburn Tigers Football Preview
Auburn 2007 Record: (9-4, 5-3 SEC)
2007 Bowl: Chick-fil-A Bowl vs. Clemson (W 23-20)
Auburn Head Coach: Tommy Tuberville (80-33 at Auburn, 105-53 overall)
Defensive Coordinator: Paul Rhoads
Returning Leaders for the Tigers:
Other Key Returnees: WR Montez Billings, LB Tray Blackman, C Jason Bosley, LB Chris Evans, RB Brad Lester, DE Sen’Derrick Marks, OT Ryan Pugh, LB Craig Stevens, OT Lee Ziemba
Key Losses: TE Cole Bennett, S Eric Brock, QB Brandon Cox, DE Quentin Groves, CB Patrick Lee, DT Pat Sims, FB Carl Stewart, DT Josh Thompson
Brandon Cox did not put up the greatest numbers in the world, but he was a solid quarterback for Auburn last season. Now it will be up to his backup, Kodi Burns, to take over the team. Burns did play during the Chick-fil-A Bowl and did a fine job. His ability to use his legs will fit well into the new system, but junior college transfer Chris Todd covets the starting job too.
The Tigers started three freshmen on the offensive line last year. The best is yet to come from Ryan Pugh, Chaz Ramsey and Lee Ziemba, but this year will not be too bad either…especially with seniors Tyronne Green and Jason Bosley providing the leadership in the middle of the line. Another year of experience for the line will benefit the quarterback and running backs Ben Tate and Brad Lester. The defensive line has a few more concerns than the o-line, but should still be solid. Replacing Quentin Groves, Pat Sims and Josh Thompson will not be easy, but Antonio Coleman had a great sophomore campaign and Sen’Derrick Marks has been a starter for each of his two years at Auburn. With all three starting linebackers returning, the Auburn run defense should be fine as long as Raven Gray, Mike Blanc and Jake Ricks can replace Sims and Thompson in the middle of the line.
There is enough talent around for Auburn to win the SEC West. But in order for that to happen, the team will have to quickly adjust to having new offensive and defensive coordinators. Auburn broke in Tony Franklin during the bowl game and the offense responded quite well. Franklin immediately helped what had been a stagnant offense by implementing his spread attack offense. That should help the running game, but is Burns or Todd ready to run, and capable of running, this offense on a consistent basis? Even if it takes a while to get the system in full swing, it cannot be much worse than last year when the offense had a lot more talent than they showed. The bigger problem is probably on the defensive side of the ball where coordinator Will Muschamp left for Texas. Paul Rhoads should not have a problem keeping the defense effective, but losing a coach like Muschamp is not a good thing.
The Bottom Line for the Tigers:
In order for the offense to be more than just the guys who are on the field to give the defense a rest, the wide receivers will need to play a bigger role. Rodgeriqus Smith is back after leading the team with 52 receptions for 705 yards and five touchdowns, but developing juniors Montez Billings and Robert Dunn into legitimate secondary options would be a big help to the quarterback.
2007 Auburn Tigers Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 156.92 (53rd in nation, 5th in conference)
Passing Offense: 178.23 (103, 9)
Total Offense: 335.15 (97, 10)
Scoring Offense: 24.23 (84, 9)
Rushing Defense: 124.69 (29, 5)
Pass Defense: 173.23 (6, 2)
Total Defense: 297.92 (6, 2)
Scoring Defense: 16.92 (6, 1)
Turnover Margin: .00 (55, 7)
Sacks: 1.69 (84, 10)
Sacks Allowed: 1.92 (51, 7)
By Joel Welser
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