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By any measure, the 2007 season was a success, and it wasn't
like the Tigers were slipping into a free-fall. Considering the
league they play in, going 9-4 with a Chick-fil-A Bowl win
over Clemson, finishing second in the division behind the team
that would win the national title, and beating the arch-rival
(again) would indicate that everything was on the right track.
Head coach: Tommy Tuberville
9th year: 80-33
13th year overall: 105-53
Off. 23, Def. 22, ST 5
Lettermen Lost: 18
Best Tiger Players
1. DT Sen'Derrick Marks, Jr.
2. DE Antonio Coleman, Jr.
3. LB Tray Blackmon, Jr.
4. CB Jerraud Powers, Jr.
5. OT Lee Ziemba, Soph.
6. OG Tyronne Green, Sr.
7. FS Mike McNeil, Soph.
8. SS Zac Etheridge, Soph.
9. RB Brad Lester, Sr.
10. WR Rodgeriqus Smith, Sr.
2008 Record: 0-0
Sept. 6 Southern Miss
Sept. 13 at Mississippi State
Sept. 20 LSU
Sept. 27 Tennessee
Oct. 4 at Vanderbilt
Oct. 11 Arkansas
Oct. 18 OPEN DATE
Oct. 23 at West Virginia
Nov. 1 at Ole Miss
Nov. 8 UT Martin
Nov. 15 Georgia
Nov. 22 OPEN DATE
Nov. 29 at Alabama
2007 Record: 9-4
L 26-24 OT
New Mexico St
Sept. 29 at
Florida W 20-17
LSU L 30-24
Georgia L 45-20
Dec. 31 Clemson W 23-20 OT
But behind the good
season and the final record were signs that things needed to be changed
up a bit. The defense was its usual nasty self and the running game was
decent enough, but the offense wasn't explosive and needed some work.
The Tigers finished 97th in the nation in total offense and time and
again had to hang on by the skin of their teeth.
it's a sign of a good team that it can win the close ones, especially
considering they're almost all close ones in the SEC, and the Tigers did
a great job of rebounding from a shaky start, they had to do something
different or risk potentially being pushed into also-ran status. After all,
juggernauts like LSU, Florida, and Georgia aren't going away, and
programs in the division like Alabama, Arkansas, and even Ole Miss, are
getting better and better. Something had to be done, and it had to be
done with the offense.
Seven of the games were decided by a touchdown or less, including three
of the four losses, while the 23-13 season-opening win over Kansas State
was much, much closer than the final score with a late fumble return for
a touchdown that ended up padding the stats.
The Tigers needed an offensive pick-me-up and they needed to be more
consistent and more dangerous. Exiting is Al Borges, who made the Jason
Campbell/Carnell Williams/Ronnie Brown 2004 offense such a monster, and
in comes Tony Franklin, a spread offense specialist who made QB Omar
Haugabook and Troy so dangerous over the last few seasons. While
Franklin would like to wing it around, he'll have the pieces in place to
run a more traditional, for lack of a better word, spread attack.
While normally the expectations would be tempered a bit with the new
offense being put in, there's no reason the Tigers can't be in the thick
of the SEC title chase in a year when almost everyone in the West is
revamping or retooling in some way. The defense, even with star coordinator Will Muschamp off to Texas, has the potential to be every bit as strong as
last season's group that led the league in points allowed and was second
overall, and the offense, even if it takes a little bit to get going,
isn't going to be worse.
The schedule works out well, the overall talent and athleticism is
there, and head coach Tommy Tuberville remains one of the nation's best
and most underappreciated head coaches.
No, this isn't a national title type of team, there will still be a few
too many ifs in the offense, but there's no reason to not going into the
year looking for a trip to the SEC title game.
watch for on offense: The quarterback battle. Who's going to run the
new attack? Kodi Burns, the hero of the bowl win over Clemson, finished
spring ball on a high note and is an emerging passer, but the
consistency won't be there for a full season; he needs a year before he
reaches his potential. Texas Tech transfer Chris Todd would be the ideal
option to start funnin' and gunnin', but he had a banged up shoulder
this off-season and will have to fight for the job. There's a chance for
a rotation unless one takes the job by the horns late this summer.
to watch for on defense:
The secondary will be
dominant ... again. It's a no-name bunch that was fantastic despite the
lack of a steady and consistent pass rush, and now it could be even more
productive with CB Jerraud Powers blossoming into a star and the rising
sophomore safety tandem of Mike McNeil and Zac Etheridge among the best
in the SEC.
The team will be far better if … it gets into the backfield
on a regular basis. Considering the ends were Quentin Groves,
Sen'Derrick Marks and Antonio Coleman, you'd think the Tiger pass rush
would've been lethal, but Groves got hurt early and was never right and
Coleman didn't get much help from anyone else. It's hard to argue with
the overall results of last year's defense, allowing fewer than 300
yards and 17 points per game, but the back seven could be even more
effective if the opposing quarterbacks felt more heat.
Schedule: There will be plenty of big-time games, but almost all of them are at
home. Going on the road to face West Virginia in a mid-season Thursday
night game is the only away date problem until the season-ender at
Alabama. LSU, Tennessee and Georgia are all good enough to win the SEC
title, but they're all coming to Jordan-Hare. It'll be vital to not be
tripped up at Ole Miss or at Mississippi State; the Tigers must take
advantage of the relative scheduling break. Yeah, AU deserves credit for
going to Morgantown to face the Mountaineers, but it makes up for it
with games against UL Monroe and UT Martin.
Sophomore OT Lee Ziemba and senior OG
Tyronne Green. The left side of the Tiger line will be dominant. Green
has grown into a devastating run blocker who'll make a ton of money in
the near future, while the 6-8, 288-pound Ziemba is one of the nation's
rising star tackles. The rest of the Tiger line is solid, but these two
should make it special.
Junior DT Sen'Derrick Marks. It's salary drive time. Marks was a great
end but is a more natural tackle. He has top ten overall draft pick
skills and will be moved around on the line where needed and where he
can be the most effective. In a perfect world he can star on the inside
all season long and use his tremendous quickness to be an unstoppable
interior pass rusher.
to a successful season:
Sophomore QB Kodi Burns and/or junior QB Chris Todd. Everything appears
to be in place for the offense to be decent. The line should grow into
something special, the backfield has its usual array of talents, and the
receiving corps is among the most promising in years. Burns doesn't have
to be Tim Tebow and Todd doesn't have to be Graham Harrell, but if one,
or both, can be effective, Auburn has a shot to win the SEC
will be a success if ... the Tigers win the West. That might seem like a bit of a tall
task considering all the big offensive changes, and yeah, losing
Muschamp really might sting a wee bit, but the schedule gets almost all
the big SEC games at home and there's enough talent on both sides of the
ball to be better than everyone else in the division. Ole Miss and
Arkansas are rebuilding, Mississippi State isn't as good as Auburn, LSU
might need a year to reload, and Alabama is a year away from being
special. The Tigers have to take advantage.
Sept. 20 vs. LSU. The better Tigers will likely win the West.
Considering Tennessee and Georgia will still be on the slate, and
there's that little road trip to Alabama to close things out, Auburn
can't afford to blow its early home date against the defending national
champion if it hopes to play for the SEC title.
2007 Fun Stats:
- Scoring in quarters 1-through-3: Auburn 225 - Opponents 127
- Scoring in the forth quarter: Opponents 84 - Auburn 81
- Interception return average: Auburn 17 (on 14 picks) - Opponents 8.1
(on 15 picks)