2012 Auburn Tigers Football Preview
2011 Record: 8-5 (4-4 SEC)
Head Coach: Gene Chizik, fourth season (30-10 at Auburn) (35-29 overall)
Projected Returning Starters: 18
Spring Game: April 14th (Blue 36 White 27)
Notes: Auburn fans howled when Chizik was hired as head coach in 2009, replacing Tommy Tuberville. Tuberville spent ten seasons at Auburn, making bowl games in eight of those seasons (all except the first and last), going 5-3 in those games, including an undefeated season in 2004. Still, Tuberville was ran out of town and replaced by a coach whose best season was 3-9 at Iowa State. But Chizik surprised his critics, recruiting quarterback Cam Newton and leading the Tigers to a National Title in 2010 over Oregon. Last year was expected to be a rebuilding season, but the Tigers were still competitive after a sluggish start, going 8-5, including a win in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl over Virginia.
BVTSB Take: Auburn faced the tough task of replacing Newton; WRs Darvin Adams, Terrell Zachery, and Kodi Burns; NT Nick Fairley; and K Wes Bynum. In fact, Auburn had only five returning starters on offense last season, and four on defense. Auburn was 3-0 in games decided by a touchdown or less last season. Despite starting the season 4-1, Auburn finished 4-4 down the stretch. Quarterback will be the biggest question for Auburn. Kiehl Frazier, Zeke Pike, and Clint Moseley all saw time in the spring game. Barrett Trotter, who saw the majority of time last season, has transferred, leaving the open spot. Moseley and Frazier both saw limited time last season. Running back Michael Dyer has left for Arkansas State, joining former offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, who is now head coach. Onterio McCalebb returns though, as he averaged 5.7 yards per carry on 112 carries in 2011. He also had five rushing touchdowns. Leading receiver Emory Blake and tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen also return – the duo combined for over 800 yards receiving and 12 of the 17 receiving touchdowns last season. Temper expectations a bit this season, as Auburn is switching from a spread offense, which was used under Malzahn, to a pro style look under new offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler. The offense should be easier to adjust to, especially for a quarterback like Pike, who was classified as a pro-style quarterback by numerous recruiting services. Auburn faced Utah State, Clemson, Florida Atlantic, and Samford in non-conference, going 3-1. The Tigers nearly lost to Utah State, but a late comeback gave them the win. This year, Auburn faces Clemson (College Kickoff at Atlanta), Louisiana-Monroe, New Mexico State, and Alabama A&M. Outside of the Clemson game, the non-conference schedule is laughable. Auburn has a pretty favorable conference schedule as well, drawing LSU, Arkansas, and Georgia at home. The Tigers avoid Florida and South Carolina this season and travel to Mississippi State, Ole Miss, and Vanderbilt, all of which are winnable games. They do travel to Alabama, but the road team has won three straight in the Iron Bowl, including 9 of the last 15, dating back to 1997. Auburn should be a more consistent team this year, and has a great shot at contending for the SEC West title, if they can better develop the quarterback position under Loeffler.
2012 Early Projection: 11-1
To see the 2012 SEC composite schedule, click here.
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