Here’s a modest aspiration:
Auburn’s bold goal: At least eight completions of 30 yards or longer per game.
“We just firmly believe in that,” offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee said. “We’ve got wide receivers who can go down the field. We have quarterbacks who can. It puts pressure on the defense.”
Added Johnson: “I’m a good deep-ball thrower. Once we build that chemistry on the field, it’s going to be fun to watch.”
Keep in mind that in 2014, Auburn completed all of 24 passes of 30+ yards. If you’re counting on your fingers and toes, that’s less than two per game. And that was one of the better marks in the SEC.
In case you’re wondering, Baylor led all of college football last season in completions of 30 or more yards last season, with 39.
In other words, this is either classic bullshit, or somebody’s in for a big letdown. I know which way I’m voting.
I’ll be at G-Day, the good Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise. Here are a few things I’ll be keeping an eye out for:
- Quarterbacks. I’m not really sure how much of that judgment thing will pop out in a scrimmage, so I’ll settle for judging Bauta’s improved arm strength and Park’s mechanics.
- Running backs. AJ Turman – healthy, does he look SEC-caliber?
- Offensive line. Brandon Douglas said the starting five looked dominant at the last scrimmage. I want to see that. And I want to see how Isaiah Wynn is doing.
- Wide receivers. Is there any depth behind Mitchell? Is Scott-Wesley really feeling like he’s fully recovered? What’s McKenzie doing to get Richt’s confidence?
- Tight ends. Is Rome healthy?
- Defensive line. It’s the transition period between last season’s departures and the arrival of Trent Thompson, so who’s stepping up in the spring?
- Outside linebackers. Why was Amaechi moved outside?
- Inside linebackers. Competition is wide open for the two spots; does anyone look ready to step up and embrace the opportunity? (And can any of them function effectively in pass coverage?) Does Ganus look like an SEC player?
- Secondary. Hell, I don’t know… it’s Pruitt. But do either of the two early enrollees from MIssissippi look like they can be contributors this season?
That’s my short list. What’s yours?
Urban Meyer would like for the recruiting process to stop and smell the roses.
Not gonna happen, Corch.
If you had any doubts about how the new CFP would affect coaches politicking for their teams, look no further than Paul Johnson – Paul Johnson! – fresh off a banner year on the Flats that, according to some, saved his job.
Johnson is no stranger to pro-SEC chatter. Atlanta is the de facto heart of the conference, as the league plays its title game in the Georgia Dome, only three miles from Tech’s campus. Johnson still feels like he is fighting an uphill battle for his program’s perception. It’s easy to see why SEC wins can taste a little sweeter.
“There’s always pride,” Johnson says. “We’re stuck in the middle of it, and truthfully, you get tired of hearing about it. It’s a fixed game. You watch the polls this year, in preseason they’ll have 10 teams ranked again. I saw where one of the teams that is ranked in the preseason top 20, we’ve won more SEC games than they have. And we’re in the other league. And then what happens is you get them ranked in the top 10, when they beat each other, they don’t ever fall out.”
Well, that shouldn’t be the genius’ concern this season.
After all, this team just won 11 games and plays in the very winnable Coastal division. Duke, the only other Coastal foe to win more than four ACC games in ‘14, loses five starters on both sides of the ball.
Georgia’s busy passing laws criminalizing people who pay college athletes, while there’s a South Carolina legislator who wants to make it legal for the home state powers to pay theirs.