Boom is running defensive backs off like lepers.
While the Tigers didn’t lose any starters, the secondary can’t sustain many more losses. That unit has lost five players since December, and only nine scholarship players are on the roster at present. One of those nine is a true freshman signee, and four more true freshman are on the way (three 4-stars and one 3-star). Auburn is looking at opening fall camp with 13 players in the backfield, which isn’t a lot.
Thirteen is more than Pruitt had to work with last season. And Georgia wound up second in the conference in pass rating defense. We’ll soon see if Muschamp earns his money as a defensive genius.
By the way, note that the generosity of Second Chance U only extends so far.
Auburn safety Derrick Moncrief has been granted his release, hours after telling the Advertiser he hoped to leave the program Friday morning.
Moncrief said the only restrictions Auburn put on his release are for other SEC teams and anyone on the schedule in the next two years. Auburn plays Louisville to open the upcoming season and hosts Clemson in 2016.
Sorry about that, Todd.
So, do we give Gus the usual “Second Chance U” snark for this, or pat him on the back for showing up Corch?
Michael Carvell caught this little gem:
I’m assuming this is meant as some kind of taunt. If it were a recruiting pitch, you’d think there’d be something about second chances in there.
ESPN is in the throes of a serious schoolboy crush over the Tigers. Here’s a link to a piece observing that Schlabach has them sitting fourth in his preseason rankings, while another writer has them upsetting Ohio State and playing for the national title for the second time in three seasons. And Ed Aschoff has Auburn topping his SEC post-spring conference power rankings.
Maybe it’s nothin’ but the Dawg in me, but I’m not buying it.
My skepticism isn’t over the offense, at least not exactly. Malzahn knows what he’s doing and I expect Auburn to do just fine on that side of the ball. Sure, he’s breaking in a new quarterback, but Jeremy Johnson’s a talented thrower and after watching what Gus did with Chris Todd a few years ago, I don’t doubt that he’ll have Johnson playing well in 2015.
But here are my three doubts for Auburn this season:
- The neighborhood. Auburn plays in college football’s toughest division. Even if the rest of the schedule isn’t daunting – more on that in a second – that’s still six games to negotiate without a hiccup. Add that Georgia is a tough draw almost every year, regardless of where the game is played, and that’s a tough row to hoe just to get to Atlanta.
- The quarterback. It’s not that I don’t think Johnson will turn in a fine season. It’s that he’s not the kind of quarterback who’s taken Malzahn’s offense to the promised land. Unlike Cam or Marshall, he’s not going to beat you with his legs. Maybe it’ll turn out that won’t matter, but I’ll have to see it first.
- The defensive coordinator. This is from where most of the unbridled optimism over Auburn’s chances stems. Defensive coordinator with good reputation who couldn’t cut it as a head coach, and so returns to the DC ranks to kick some ass… where have we heard that before? Oh, yeah – that was the story about Boom’s predecessor, too. Maybe Muschamp is an enormous step up from Ellis Johnson. But I wonder if whatever improvement we see out of the Tigers defense this season will come more from getting a healthy Lawson back. A good pass rush has the benefit of making a coordinator look smarter.
All of which isn’t to say Auburn won’t do well this season. But as I look at this schedule, it doesn’t shout 11-1 at me. And I’m not convinced a two-loss SEC team will be playing for a national title this year.
Fair is fair, so I gotta admit this is the kind of media smarminess I’ve been waiting to see.
Ready and steaming…
- Here’s a look at the post-spring SEC quarterback situation.
- Georgia’s incoming freshman Trent Thompson “becomes the team’s second biggest defensive lineman the minute he steps on campus.” Yeah, he’s got a good chance of playing this season.
- If you can’t get a second chance at Second Chance U, where can you?
- Florida’s Dante Fowler, Jr., on Todd Gurley: “What gets me about him is how fast he is. He’s a big guy so you would think that he’s slow, but he’s even faster in person than what he looks like on TV. We had a mean defense. We had Sharrif Floyd, Dominique Easley, Matt Elam—three first-round draft picks—and we had a top-five defense in the country. To see what he was doing to us, as a freshman, I was like, man, this guy is going to be something else.”
- The New York Times has a great piece on what’s happened to the members of the NFL’s first round draft class of 1990. It’s sad to see Ben Smith’s story.
- Nick Saban explains what up-tempo offenses have done to Alabama’s secondary, and how he’s working to fix that. (It’s been downhill since Jeremy Pruitt left.)
- Ben Jones talks about his favorite memory at Georgia, Jacob Eason, Mark Richt and more here.
- It’s insidious, but I fear I’m coming to like Jim McElwain. Bastard.