Give Bill Connelly a little credit. As more and more people keep rushing to the exit door labelled “Auburn, playoffs bound“, Bill takes a more measured tack in describing Auburn’s prospects.
Auburn allowed more than 40 points per game in its five losses, and Malzahn elected to replace coordinator Ellis Johnson with Muschamp, the former Florida head coach. Muschamp’s Gator defenses were stout, and now he doesn’t have to worry about that pesky “managing the offense, too” thing.
With the way Malzahn has been recruiting, it’s easy to connect these dots. Malzahn offense (which should be prolific no matter who’s in uniform) plus Muschamp defense (angry and aggressive no matter what) plus star athletes equals success. And that makes sense.
But I do wonder if we’re rushing things. Malzahn and Muschamp should be able to create a high baseline, but with turnover on offense and potential depth issues on defense, are we really sure this team is better than Bama?
There are good reasons to ask that question: (1) lots of turnover on the offensive side of the ball (depending on whether Williams returns to Gus’ good graces in time, they could be down to four returning starters); (2) depth issues on defense; and (3) speaking of Muschamp defense…
One other interesting variable: Muschamp vs. tempo. As Florida’s head coach, he employed a plodding offense that seemed like it was designed to buy time for the defense. Now he will be working opposite one of the most potent offenses in the country. His defense will be on the field more, which could create the need for more depth … which he might not have until 2016.
And in the end, that’s how you get to talking about karma and mojo in trying to analyze Auburn’s 2015.
It’s not impossible to see a top-five caliber Auburn running the table, easing by LSU and Arkansas on the road and finishing with home wins (probably dramatically) over UGA and Bama.
I’m struggling to picture that. While I’m not a betting man, I would have long ago learned not to bet on Auburn regardless. They turn when you think they’re going to twist, zag when most teams would zig.
But a team with normal karmic ebbs and flows, ranking somewhere in the top 10 or 15, would probably lose at least a couple of games here. In fact, despite a No. 11 projection, the Football Outsiders Almanac 2015 (college-only version available for only $6 in PDF form) gives the Tigers only a 15 percent chance of finishing 10-2 or better. And no, mojo is not one of the projection factors.
It’s worked for Malzahn before, so who am I to say it won’t again? But I think I’ll wait and see first before I rush to the exit.
(By the way, one thing about Bill’s stats that’s starting to drive me crazy is the way Georgia keeps popping up as the team that administered the worst beat down on an opponent’s 2014 schedule. First Mizzou, now Auburn. Sheesh, guys… how could you lose to Florida?)