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2010 Auburn Preview
Auburn QB Cam Newton
Auburn QB Cam Newton
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jul 20, 2010


2009 was a positive year of transition for Auburn, but now head coach Gene Chizik has to show that his program has the potential to be among the elite. With a tremendous quarterback prospect in Cam Newton to build around, the Tiger attack could blow up. Check out the CFN 2010 Auburn Preview.


Auburn Tigers

Preview 2010
 

- 2010 Auburn Preview | 2010 Auburn Offense
- 2010 Auburn Defense | 2010 Auburn Depth Chart
- Auburn Previews  2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006

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By Pete Fiutak

Head coach: Gene Chizik
2nd year: 8-5
4th year overall: 13-24 br /> Returning Lettermen:
Off. 24, Def. 24, ST 2
Lettermen Lost: 20
Ten Best Auburn Players
1. WR Darvin Adams, Jr.
2. OT Lee Ziemba, Sr.
3. C Ryan Pugh, Sr.
4. RB Onterio McCalebb, Soph.
5. RB/WR Mario Fannin, Sr.
6. LB Josh Bynes, Sr.
7. LB Craig Stevens, Sr.
8. QB Cameron Newton, Jr.
9. PK Wes Byrum, Sr.
10. S/LB Daren Bates, Soph.
2010 Schedule

Sept. 4 Arkansas St
Sept. 9 at Miss State
Sept. 18 Clemson
Sept. 25 South Carolina
Oct. 2 ULM
Oct. 9 at Kentucky
Oct. 16 Arkansas
Oct. 23 LSU
Oct. 30 at Ole Miss
Nov. 6 Chattanooga
Nov. 13 Georgia
Nov. 20 OPEN DATE
Nov. 26 at Alabama

Considering how controversial, and somewhat bizarre, the hiring of Gene Chizik was after his 5-19 stint at Iowa State (which looks a bit worse in hindsight after the Cyclones went bowling last year), and considering the second-half issues losing five of the final seven regular season games, and considering that the un-cow college on the other side of the state won the national title, the 2009 Auburn season went about as well as anyone could’ve asked for.

Now beat Alabama.

Everyone acknowledged that some rebuilding had to be done after the Tommy Tuberville era went from elite to mediocre in a hiccup, and Chizik did a strong job from Day One of getting the right people in place (most notably offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn and defensive coordinator Ted Roof), and he and his staff have been fantastic on the recruiting trail. Considering Alabama’s reemergence as a superpower, and with all the other top SEC programs reloading, to bring in the 2010 class that the Tigers did was impressive.

Now beat Alabama.

The Tide won’t go away any time soon and should be among the elite of the elite as long as Nick Saban is hanging around, but Chizik and Auburn can find a niche starting this season. The goal has to be to play the SEC’s game of musical chairs by building up the team, tweaking it, adding a few key pieces, and then pouncing in that one year when the schedule and the experience appear to align the right way. LSU has been able to take advantage of those seasons, and Georgia hasn’t, while Florida and Alabama have gotten to a level where they’re going to be in the hunt for the whole ball of wax every year no matter what. This isn’t that year for the Tigers, but things are in place to take another step forward to get to that point, while also coming up with a big season if several key parts of the puzzle come together. Auburn might not be able to reach the lofty status of the truly consistent superpowers under Chizik, but that doesn’t mean an SEC title is out of the question in the very near future.

Now beat Alabama.

With 16 starters returning, a set of running backs with as much young talent as any in the nation, a veteran offensive line that should be as good as any in the SEC, a speedy group of veteran wideouts, a nice kicking game and strong special teams, and a no-name (in a positive, something to prove sort of way) defense full of crafty veterans and excellent linebackers, there’s a very nice mix of experience, burgeoning young talent, and enough depth to rely on, there’s no reason to not be a player in the West race and there’s no reason to not expect more. Wild and crazy expectations might be the norm around the SEC, but this team really does have enough talent and potential to do big things. Maybe not SEC title things, but enough to suggest that the Chizik hiring wasn’t so batspit crazy after all.

Now beat Alabama.

While Chizik benefitted from low expectations in his first year, the demand for championship level results will soon be there; just treading water and going bowling won’t be enough. Yeah, 2009 wasn’t awful for Auburn, but the warm fuzzies quickly go away when Tiger fans have to sit idly by and groove on the sight of yappy crimson-clad fans parading through a Wal-Mart to view the BCS crystal football thingy.

Because of the recruiting class and because of the young talent already in place, Chizik will get one more year to be above-average, and in the SEC that means nine wins with a New Year’s Day bowl win. But after losing to Alabama 26-21, and with two straight Iron Bowl losses after dominating for a stretch, it really will come down to winning the big game since now, because of Bama’s status, the game means more than just 365 days of bragging rights.

Arkansas might be the X factor in the West, LSU might be some decent line play away from being a national title contender, Mississippi State is improved, and Ole Miss is going to be much, much better than it’ll get preseason credit for. It’s not going to be easy for Auburn, but this is going to be a strong team that can battle with everyone.

And that includes Alabama.

What to watch for on offense: The attempt to quicken up the pace. Almost all offense in today’s day and age want to speed things up a bit, and Auburn is no exception as offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn would like to take the training wheels off his attack. With so much experience across the board and almost everyone with a year in the system, the goal is to get everyone to quicken their pace a bit, be crisper, and be more decisive. However, that only works if the quarterback play is sharp, and that isn’t going to be a given early considering Cameron Newton (the likely starter) will need a little while to figure out what he’s doing.

What to watch for on defense: The safeties. The Tiger secondary has the potential to be fantastic if everyone is healthy, but that’s a long shot. Aairon Savage (knee), Mike McNeil (broken leg), Zac Etheridge (neck), and Drew Cole (foot) are all banged up to various degrees and all trying the secure spots at safety. Not only do the Tigers need playmakers at safety, but they also need to be healthy to provide depth for a rotation. If the position is a problem, then Daren Bates, a starter in the secondary last year, will have to move from linebacker back to the defensive backfield and then the linebacking depth becomes extremely thin.

The team will be far better if … it can consistently force interceptions. As long as the Tigers are ahead of the game in turnover margin, or even, they should be okay. Last year, they picked off 17 passes with 16 of them coming in the eight wins and just one (Arkansas) coming in a loss. Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky and LSU hardly lit it up through the air, but none of the four threw any picks and everyone but Georgia lost one fumble. The margin for error in the SEC is always going to be relatively thin, and as long as the Tigers are making big plays in the secondary, the offense can afford to take a few chances.

The schedule: If the Tigers are sharp out of the gate, there's no reason to not start the season 7-0 before dealing with the meat of the SEC West schedule. That might be asking for a lot with Clemson, South Carolina, and Arkansas to deal with, bout those three games are at home. Going to Mississippi State and Kentucky aren't going to be layups, but any team hoping to win the West should be good enough to get through those in a survive-and-move-on sort of way. The LSU game is at home, but going on the road to face Ole Miss could be the make-or-break moment in the Auburn season coming off the showdown against the Tigers. On the plus side there’s a week off before playing Alabama, but the game is on the road

Best offensive player: Junior WR Darvin Adams. Tackle Lee Ziemba could end up being the highest rated all-star on the offense, and running backs Onterio McCalebb and/or Michael Dyer are probably the most talented, but it’s Adams who brings the explosion. The 6-3, 192-pounder broke out in the new offense averaging 16.6 yards per catch with a team-leading 60 grabs with ten scores. While he was decent throughout the year, highlighted by a three-score performance against West Virginia, he blew up late with 115 yards and three scores against Furman, four catches for 138 yards and a touchdown against Alabama, and 12 catches for 142 yards against Northwestern.

Best defensive player: Senior LB Josh Bynes and/or Craig Stevens. They appeared to wear down a bit with little depth to help the cause last season, but they came up big time and again finishing 1-2 in tackles (Bynes with 104 and Stevens with 95) as the consistent playmakers who cleaned everything up. They each have good size, nice range, and make every stop that they have a chance at, and considering linebacker depth will be a bit of a concern going into the season, they need to be rocks.

Key player to a successful season: Junior QB Cameron Newton. It seems like years since Auburn has had a settled quarterback situation, and this season isn’t any different with four viable options all capable of making the attack go. But it’s the 6-6, 247-pound Newton who has the talent and upside to make the offense special. The former Florida Gator left the program after an issue with a stolen laptop, but now he appears to be a changed man with the ability and the maturity to become the face of the program. With the arm and the mobility, the skills are all in place, and now he’ll have to keep the mistakes to a minimum and be consistent.

The season will be a success if … the Tigers win nine games … and beat Alabama. The schedule couldn’t work out better with just three road dates before November 26th, no Florida, LSU and Georgia coming to Auburn, and with some nice fillers in Arkansas State, ULM, and Chattanooga. There’s no reason to not win eight of the first 11 games, which would allow for a split of some sort against Clemson, South Carolina, Arkansas, LSU, and Georgia (which are all at home), and budgeting in one road loss at either Kentucky (who’s better than you think) or Ole Miss (who’s much better than you think). Even though the Alabama game is on the road, it’s time to come up with a win again in the rivalry to make the year a true success.

Key game: Besides the Nov. 26th game at Alabama, for obvious reasons, it’s the September 9th date at Mississippi State. The Bulldogs are going to be looking to make an early home statement in the SEC race, and Auburn will be in trouble if it’s not fully jelled. If the Tigers can come up with a win, there’s a chance to go on a terrific run with three straight home games followed up by a winnable game at Kentucky. A loss would put the pressure on with Clemson coming up nine days later.

2009 Fun Stats:
- Punt return average: Opponents 12.9 – Auburn 4.5
- Penalties: Auburn 97 for 847 yards – Opponents 59 for 466 yards
- Fourth down conversions: Opponents 15-of-24 (62%) – Auburn 4-of-14 (29%)

- 2010 Auburn Preview | 2010 Auburn Offense
- 2010 Auburn Defense | 2010 Auburn Depth Chart
- Auburn Previews  2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006