Auburn Football: Why the Tigers Were Not Ranked in the Associated Press Poll
With questions swirling around both sides of the football, it’s not hard to understand why the Tigers went unranked in the most recent poll release.
The Tigers did receive 53 votes—the third most among unranked teams—but they missed the mark to make the Top 25.
Digging into issues that face the Tigers this preseason, here are the reasons why the Tigers remained unranked in the AP preseason poll for 2012.
Quarterback Questions Remain
Despite the obvious assumption that Kiehl Frazier is the starter for the Auburn Tigers at quarterback for the 2012 season, no firm announcement has led to concern across the country—it showed in the AP preseason poll.
The Tigers have Clint Moseley and Frazier both battling for the starting position, but a shoulder injury has hampered the competition for Moseley, pushing Frazier into the starting role by default.
No official announcement has led to concerns, and the lack of true quarterback experience that Frazier has at the collegiate level also leads to question marks.
Frazier is extremely talented, but a new offensive system will lead to growing pains as he will navigate the Tigers through the toughest conference in the country.
Talented but Young Roster Leads to Questions
The Auburn Tigers coaching staff has done a phenomenal job landing top talent across the country over the past few seasons, but the Tigers still have a lot of young players that fill pivotal roles heading into the new season.
With an offensive line that will be layered with four underclassmen, there is a lot of concern for the Tigers heading into the new season as experience is an invaluable asset in SEC football.
The Tigers will be able to win games they shouldn’t by pure talent and playmaking alone, but there will also be some mistakes that will lead to losses that shouldn’t happen.
For those reasons, the voters are timid when looking at the Tigers for the 2012 season.
New Coordinators Will Have Growing Pains
The Auburn Tigers are completely starting over on the offense and defense heading into the 2012 season.
Gene Chizik replaced Gus Malzahn’s no-huddle spread offense with a more traditional pro-style offense with new offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler. Chizik also dumped a zone-based reactive defense for Brian VanGorder’s fast attacking, ears-pinned back style of play.
While the Auburn players have received the changes well, they are major changes for the Tigers. There will be times that they will play out of place and make the wrong reads—it happens.
By season's end, they should be very efficient in the schemes, but to start the season, it will be a tougher than expected transition for the Tigers.
Lack of Proven Playmakers at Skill Positions
Auburn is layered with talent at the offensive skill positions, but only two names have made waves that are currently found on the roster.
Onterio McCalebb and Emory Blake are proven playmakers, but outside of those two, Auburn is hurting for stars.
Mike Blakely, Corey Grant and Tre Mason will be big the options for success at running back, and guys like Travante Stallworth, DeAngelo Benton and Jaylon Denson will be looked at for big plays at receiver.
Other notables will be Trovon Reed, Quan Bray and Sammie Coates, but none of the players have had breakout-type performances just yet. This could turn into a strength for the Tigers quickly, but as it stands today, the skill positions are littered with question marks.
Toughest Competition in the Country
Auburn plays in the toughest conference in the country. They also play in the toughest division inside the toughest conference in the country—it’s a mouthful.
Putting the Tigers to work against some of the toughest competition in the country is a positive and a negative. The Auburn team will gain from big wins, but it is really tough to attain top wins against the likes of LSU and Alabama with the depth and experience they have on their rosters.
Auburn is about a season away from being in the top-tier of the conference during the preseason, and the competition they face is a big part of that reasoning. Push the Tigers into another conference and they will be at the top of the preseason expectations.