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2007 Auburn Preview

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jul 30, 2007


Auburn might have to rebuild on the offensive line, has issues at linebacker and receiver, and has to start from scratch in the kicking game, but if QB Brandon Cox can go from decent to great, this will still be one of the SEC West's most dangerous teams.

Auburn Tigers

Preview 2007

By Pete Fiutak

- 2007 Auburn Offense Preview | 2007 Auburn Defense Preview
-
2007 Auburn Depth Chart | 2006 CFN Auburn Preview 

After winning 33 games over the last three seasons (four more than Florida, two more than LSU, and three more than Ohio State), you’ll have to forgive Auburn if it’s ready to break something tasteful for being the nation’s hard-luck team when it comes to national titles.  

Tiger fans are still grumpy over getting passed over in 2004’s three-way debate with Oklahoma and USC, while LSU got the benefit of the BCS doubt in 2003 (and won) and Florida got the mega-break of all breaks when USC lost to UCLA to open the door to the national title. The success of the other SEC schools in championship games has once again opened up the debate about that 2004 team and what it would’ve done against the Sooners or Trojans.

Head coach: Tommy Tuberville
8th year: 71-29
12th year overall: 96-49
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 22, Def. 27, ST 2
Lettermen Lost: 23
Ten Best Tiger Players
1. DE Quentin Groves, Sr.
2. LB Tray Blackmon, Soph.*
3. DT Sen'Derrick Marks, Soph.
4. WR Rodgeriqus Smith, Jr.
5. RB Brad Lester, Jr.
6. QB Brandon Cox, Sr.
7. OT King Dunlap, Sr.
8. NG Josh Thompson, Sr.
9. LB Patrick Trahan, Soph.
10. CB Jonathan Wilhite, Sr.

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
9-3

Sept. 1

Kansas State

Sept. 8

South Florida

Sept. 15

Mississippi State

Sept. 22

New Mexico State

Sept. 29

at Florida

Oct. 6

Vanderbilt

Oct. 13

at Arkansas

Oct. 20

at LSU

Oct. 27

Ole Miss

Nov. 3

Tennessee Tech

Nov. 10

at Georgia

Nov. 24

Alabama

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
11-1
2005 Record: 11-2

Preview 2006 predicted wins

9/2 Washington St W 40-14
9/9 at Miss State W 34-0
9/16 LSU W 7-3
9/23 Buffalo W 38-7
9/30 at So Carolina W 24-17
10/7 Arkansas L 27-10
10/14 Florida W 27-17
10/21 Tulane W 38-13
10/28 at Ole Miss W 23-17
11/4 Arkansas State W 27-0
11/11 Georgia L 37-15
11/18 at Alabama W 22-15
1/1 Cotton Bowl
Nebraska W 17-14

Let it go.

Yeah, easier said than done in the grudge-holding world of college football, but the 2004 issue should actually help the team if it can get it close to the cup. Now, the voters would be more than happy to give Auburn the benefit of the doubt and get it into a national title game if there are several teams in the hunt, but first, Tommy Tuberville’s club has to be consistent enough to get into the discussion.

Every time the world is ready to gush all over the Tigers, they pull a dud out of the bag. Arkansas might have been really good last year, but it shouldn’t have gone into Auburn and come away with a 27-10 win. A 37-15 home loss to Georgia, with everything on the line, including being in the national title mix, was unacceptable.

This year’s team has the make-up and the talent to potentially get over the top, even if the schedule makes it too tough to actually do it. There might be some major personnel losses on the offensive line, and the departure of RB Kenny Irons doesn’t help, but the defense has the potential to be the best yet under Tuberville (and he’s had some killers), while the offense should be fine as long as QB Brandon Cox starts to be more of a playmaker.

Now it’s time to finish the job. It’s an overstatement to suggest Auburn’s window has passed, but Alabama is finally done with its probation and has Nick Saban patrolling the sidelines. LSU has gotten better and better under Les Miles, Florida has assembled a mini-NFL team, and the rest of the SEC is improving by the year. Tuberville and the program have to prove they haven’t hit a plateau.

What to watch for on offense: Is Cox ready to be a difference maker? Auburn has been blessed with some of the most talented backs in the game under Tuberville, but it’s no coincidence that the team has been at its best with a quarterback who rocked. Jason Campbell was flawless in 2004 after going through years of SEC battles. After two seasons at the helm, Cox has to be better against the top teams and can’t just be along for the ride. 

What to watch for on defense: The secondary will be dominant. Losing top corner David Irons hurts, but three starters return to one of the nation’s stingiest groups. Helped by a big pass rush from Quentin Groves and company, expect the Tiger pass defense to control games and force teams to try to run on the smallish front seven.
 
The team will be far better if … it keeps the foot on the throttle for a full season. You can’t blame Tuberville and his staff for resting starters in stretches during a light part of the schedule last year, but the team couldn’t find its groove once the lights came back on against Georgia. The offense was rarely consistent and didn’t show up against the top teams. That has to change if Auburn wants to be playing in the really big 2008 games.

The Schedule: Great at home, awful, awful, awful on the road. The four home games to start the year aren’t walks in the park playing Kansas State, South Florida, Mississippi State, and the high-octane New Mexico State offense before going on the road to face Florida. The three other road games are at Arkansas, LSU, and Georgia. However, if the Tigers can beat the Bulldogs, there’s a chance for a great run to end the year with Ole Miss, Tennessee Tech, and the Iron Bowl against Alabama in Jordan-Hare.

Best Offensive Player: Junior WR Rodgeriqus Smith. Smith goes from being a game-breaking home-run hitter to the number one receiving threat with the loss of Courtney Taylor. He led the team in touchdown catches (four) and cranked out steady production all season long. Now he has to prove he can make five-to-seven catches a game rather than one-to-three.

Best Defensive Player: Senior DE Quentin Groves. The Tigers got a huge life when Groves decided to come back for his senior year. Now he’ll be one of the nation’s most fearsome pass rushers with the potential to be a double-digit sack man if he gets some help from the other side. Few ends can change a game like he can.

Key player to a successful season: Cox. Auburn rolls out of bed and finds a productive running back. To be special this year and be more than just an SEC West contender, it needs Cox to make everyone around him better. Has he been average because the offense has had a great ground game, or is he just average? Being accurate isn’t always the same as being effective.

The season will be a success if ... the Tigers win ten games. While the four road games (Florida, Arkansas, LSU and Georgia) might not completely end and SEC title dreams before they begin, you can all but forget about the national title (think LSU of last year and its four rough road trips). Sweeping the eight home games will be expected, but don’t be shocked if South Florida, Kansas State or (gulp) Alabama pulls off an upset.

Key game: Sept. 29 at Florida. Of course the battle with Bama to end the season is a must-win, beating Florida at Florida would be even bigger on a national scale. If the Tigers can pull it off, they’ll likely start the year 6-0 and ranked in the top three with dates at Arkansas and LSU to follow.

2006 Fun Stats: 
- Third quarter scoring: Auburn 102 – Opponents 33
- Fourth down conversions: Auburn 11 of 14 (79%) – Opponents 8 of 19 (42%)
- Sacks: Opponents 35 for 205 yards – Auburn 29 for 190 yards

  

Related Stories
2007 Auburn Preview - Offense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 29, 2007
2007 Auburn Preview - Defense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 29, 2007
2007 Auburn Preview - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 29, 2007








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