A look back at preseason expectationsPublished 9:30am Wednesday, October 24, 2012
By Andy Graham | Sportz Blitzoperator
Earlier this year, I was given the responsibility of writing a “sneak peek” column pertaining to the 2012 Auburn football season. It was very simply a preview of the challenges and expectations of the Auburn Tigers for the upcoming year. The column originally ran during the first week of July. I thought it might be interesting to go back and take a look at what I said before this Tiger train hopped the tracks and began careening toward disaster. These are, word for word, four excerpts from that original article:
“Loeffler has a very impressive résumé as a quarterback coach, but very little experience running the entire offense. His first and most important job will be to decide on the starting quarterback and coach that young man up to ensure he realizes his maximum potential.” – FAILURE – Loeffler and the offensive staff obviously decided on Kiehl Frazier to begin the season, but made a change at halftime of game five and inserted Clint Moseley. In five games, Frazier rushed 36 times for -9 yards and was 56-of-103 (54.4%) for 664 yards with two touchdowns & eight interceptions. In three games, Moseley has rushed 16 times for -66 yards and is 38 of 59 (64.4%) for 373 yards with one touchdown & three interceptions. Quarterback play in general has been subpar to say the least and that is a big reason why the offense has struggled so mightily.
“Brian VanGorder takes over the defense and has really nowhere to go but up after 2011. The defensive line is now filled with experienced juniors and sophomores like Jeffrey Whitaker, Gabe Wright, Devaunte Sigler, Dee Ford and Corey Lemonier.” – INCORRECT – While I do believe the defense has made some progress, giving up 351 yards rushing to Clemson right out of the gate was a step backward. The Auburn defense has also kept practically every game close for three quarters and given the offense an opportunity to win in the fourth quarter; however, every single time the Tigers absolutely need a stop, the defense has been as soft as a role of Charmin. The supposedly deep and talented defensive line has probably been the most disappointing aspect of the 2012 team.
“Auburn plays Clemson in Atlanta and then travels to Starkville in week 2. If Auburn handles Clemson, I believe they’ll also handle State. If they lose to Clemson, AU could be staring 1-3 in the face to start the season” – PROPHETIC – It was the nightmare scenario, but I was open to the possibility the Tigers could really struggle this year. I thought the biggest game of the season would be Clemson, because I was afraid of this team losing confidence early. It’s obviously become far worse than anyone ever imagined.
“I believe a very reasonable goal for the Tigers in 2012 is third in the ultracompetitive West. Kiehl Frazier steps up and leads the Tigers (9-3) to that respectable position.” – NOT EVEN CLOSE – This was truly brilliant analysis on my part. Now that I think about it, I’m almost certain this was a misprint. I could have sworn I had the Tigers record at 3-9 when I submitted it, but somehow it got transposed in editing. I blame J.D. Cowart. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Graham is a columnist for Sportz Blitz.