Auburn Preview 2006
Posted Aug 8, 2006

Auburn Tigers Preview 2006

- Auburn Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart | Further Analysis

2005 was supposed to be a bit of a rebuilding year after losing the million dollar backfield of Jason Campbell, Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown, but this is a program that reloads under Tommy Tuberville

There aren't any more secret meetings with Bobby Petrino. There isn't a hot seat under Tuberville, and there's a lot of hope that Auburn just might be in the hunt for the national title. But this isn't a program that does well when the big-time pressure is on.

The Tigers need to be in the disrespected, no-one-believes in us role. Put them on the covers of magazines and say they're the preseason national title favorites, like in 2003, and things don't work out quite so well. Whisper that they were the SEC's best team at the end of last year after going on a four-game winning streak that included a thriller at Georgia and a whipping of Alabama, and then they go into the tank against a fired up Wisconsin team in the Capital One Bowl. No, this is a team that does far better when there's something to scream about. That's why this year might be so dangerous.

Head coach: Tommy Tuberville
7th year: (60-27)
11th year overall: (85-47)
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 23, Def. 25, ST 6
Lettermen Lost: 15
Ten Best Tiger Players
1. RB Kenny Irons, Sr.
2. QB Brandon Cox, Jr.
3. LB Will Herring, Sr.
4. CB David Irons, Sr.
5. DE Marquies Gunn, Sr.
6. DE Quentin Groves, Jr.
7. WR Courtney Taylor, Sr.
8. OG Tim Duckworth, Jr.
9. P Kody Bliss, Sr.
10. OT King Dunlap, Jr. 

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction:

9/2 Washington St
9/9 at Miss State
9/16 LSU
9/23 Buffalo
9/30 at South Carolina
10/7 Arkansas
10/14 Florida
10/21 Tulane
10/28 at Ole Miss
11/4 Arkansas State
11/11 Georgia
11/18 at Alabama

2005 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2005 Record: 9-3

Preview 2005 predicted wins

9/3 Georgia Tech L 23-14
9/10 Miss State W 28-0
9/17 Ball State W 63-3
9/24 W. Kentucky W 37-13
10/1 South Carolina W 48-7
10/15 at Arkansas W 34-17
10/22 at LSU L 20-17 OT
10/29 Ole Miss W 27-3
11/5 at Kentucky W 49-27
11/12 at Georgia W 31-30
11/19 Alabama W 28-18
1/2 Capital One Bowl
Wisconsin L 24-10

Auburn loses several good starters, but none of them, not even four of the top five receivers or All-American offensive tackle Marcus McNeill, will hurt that much. Out with the old, in with near mirror images of the players who left. In other words, Auburn should be even better than last year good enough talent to be ranked among the ten best in America with a schedule that makes a great team a national title contender. More on that in a moment.

Of course, Auburn does play in the SEC and sure-things, like 2005 Tennessee, have crashed and burned before. The defense is a bit shaky at tackle and safety hoping good prospects can produce right away. The offense needs WR Courtney Taylor to regain his 2004 form and is in huge trouble if there's an injury problem on the offensive line, but that's all nitpicking.

So here you go, Auburn. To get you in the proper frame of mind: You're not good enough to win the national title and you're not even going to win the SEC title. You had no business playing for the national title in 2004 or 1983, and you shouldn't have even been part of the discussion in 1993. Chuck Long deserved the Heisman, the real Tigers in the West are in LSU, and you'll always be second banana to that team in Crimson. 

There, hope that gave you what you needed. Now go play for the national championship.

The Schedule: Auburn has four road games, at Mississippi State, South Carolina, Ole Miss and Alabama. Any team worthy of saying the words national title has to win those four games. The home dates are nasty opening up against a Washington State team that's better than Auburn fans might give it credit for. LSU, an improved Arkansas, Florida and Georgia all have to come to Jordan-Hare. As rough as those games might, Auburn needs those tough wins to get the necessary love from the BCS.

Best Offensive Player: Senior RB Kenny Irons. What would've happened if Irons was given the ball in the opener against Georgia Tech? He only got one carry for six yards against the Yellow Jackets, was held to 28 yards on 13 carries against Mississippi State, and then ripped through everyone else with the only blemish a 27-yard day against South Carolina, but he scored twice. He has home-run hitting speed and he proved he can handle being a workhorse.

Best Defensive Player: Senior LB Will Herring. He's certainly the team's steadiest defender leading the team in tackles last year and cranking out 178 for his career at safety. Now he's being tried out at outside linebacker to get him even closer to the action. If he starts all 12 regular season games, he'll set the school record for most consecutive career starts. 

Key player to a successful season: Junior NG Josh Thompson. The only potential issue with the Auburn defense is at tackle. Since the D relies on athleticism, there isn't a whole bunch of size in the middle, but that doesn't mean run stuffers aren't needed. The 302-pound Thompson is one of the team's strongest players, but he must stay healthy for the defense to succeed.

The season will be a success if ... Auburn wins the SEC title. That would make it an extremely impressive two in three years. It's not every season you get so many big conference games at home and the Tigers must take advantage.

Key game: September 28 at South Carolina. Any talk of winning a title of any kind can quickly stop before the end of September. The Tigers have a showdown against LSU on the 16th in Auburn, but the real landmine could be against Mr. Spurrier in Columbia on a nationally televised Thursday night game.

2005 Fun Stats: 
- Second quarter scoring: Auburn 127 - Opponents 37
- Third down conversion percentage: Auburn 46% (73 of 158) - Opponents 33% (55 of 169)
- Rushing touchdowns: Auburn 28 - Opponents 11

The Last Time Auburn…
…played in a bowl game…2005 (Capital One Bowl vs. Wisconsin)
…missed a bowl game…1999
…pitched a shutout…2005 (Mississippi State)
…was shutout…2003 (USC)
…scored 50 points…2005 (Ball State) 
…went undefeated…2004
…won a conference title…2004 (SEC)
…had a 3,000-yard passer…1997 (Dameyune Craig)
…had a 1,000-yard rusher…2005 (Kenny Irons)
…had a 1,000-yard receiver…1999 (Ronney Daniels)
…had a first-round draft choice…2005 (RB Ronnie Brown, RB Carnell Williams, CB Carlos Rogers and QB Jason Campbell)

Related Stories
Auburn Preview 2006 - Offense
 -by  Aug 8, 2006
Auburn Preview 2006 - Further Analysis
 -by  Aug 8, 2006
Auburn Preview 2006 - Depth Chart
 -by  Aug 8, 2006

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