The Auburn Tigers are sitting at 1-3 entering their bye week for the 2012 season. Arkansas waits around the corner for the Tigers. Auburn has been using this bye week to keep the physical mentality alive and solidify positions. The Tigers still have ways they can turn the season around.
The Tigers have shown a lot of promise on defense, and the offense has had its spurts. Auburn has a lot of little changes that need to be made that could make big differences as the season continues.
Looking ahead, it seems possible for the Tigers to win five straight. Here are the five ways that the Tigers can turn around the 2012 season.
Kiehl Frazier has not started the 2012 season the way that most thought he would. A strong spring and summer practice session had Frazier being lauded by Auburn fans, saying it was only a matter of time.
At this point, there are a lot of concerns for Frazier. He has been impactful with his play, but for all the wrong reasons. Frazier has thrown seven interceptions and only two touchdowns. He has just barely completed more than half of his throws.
There are a lot of concerns for Frazier as there is not a lot of visible progression to this point. Something has to change for the Tigers. There are a number passing calls that are set up for easy completions, but Frazier is missing them.
Is Jonathan Wallace the future? At this point, that is a great question. Frazier has to get better or his time may be shorter than expected.
Auburn is having a lot of issues offensively. One glaring problem for Auburn is the time of possession. Auburn’s opponents are averaging nearly six minutes more on offense than the Tigers. Auburn is also only converting 28 percent of its third-down plays.
Both of those issues stem from a lack of commitment to the running game. Auburn is averaging six yards per carry on the ground, yet the Tigers are not relying on the ground game to sustain drives.
There is almost an apparent forced passing strategy. The Tigers are not getting the job done through the air right now. Putting 25 passes in the air makes no sense.
Auburn needs to average 35 carries a game down the stretch. If the Tigers can manage that, they will flip the time of possession advantage, and they should produce more third-down conversions.
Auburn showed a new level of aggression last game against No. 3 LSU. Auburn was expected to get rolled up in the game, but the Tigers defense stood tall and held the Bayou Bengals to 12 total points in the game.
The Tigers have not carried the defensive swagger they showed in a game since the 2006 season. There were flashes in 2010, but the overall defensive effort was not on the level of this past Saturday.
Auburn needs this defense to keep up the tenacious play. Auburn has a chance to run through five wins in a row, but to get those they have to ride a nasty defense to the win column.
For Auburn, it starts up front along the defensive line. The Tigers lacked a presence in the middle during the first three games, but Jeffrey Whitaker and Angelo Blackson turned it on against LSU. If they continue to progress and the rush ends continue to grow, Auburn’s defense will be very dangerous by season’s end.
Emory Blake is a great receiver, but there is only so much that Blake can do by himself. The Tigers have yet to find a secondary option at receiver through the first four games, which is hurting the development of the passing game.
Kiehl Frazier has made some plays with Quan Bray and Sammie Coates, but neither has taken major steps to become a consistent threat for Auburn.
The Tigers want to settle Frazier in the passing game. To do it they have to find another option at receiver. The Tigers have the talent on the bench. Trooper Taylor needs to find a way to get these guys to produce on the field.
To start the year, Auburn shuffled the secondary trying to find the right mix of defenders. There were a number of players who did not see time at all, who in the past two games have stepped up their game. Erique Florence, Robenson Therezie and Joshua Holsey are those players.
Holsey is a true freshman for the Tigers who made one of the best man coverage plays for Auburn in the past five years. He was able to stick with his man and stop a sure touchdown against LSU this past Saturday.
Florence and Therezie were laying the wood to the LSU ball-carriers and receivers, enforcing the second half of the defense. Auburn needs those big hits to continue.
The Auburn defense has also seen Demetruce McNeal step up his game a lot in the past few weeks. McNeal now has 40 tackles on the season and has been a showstopper from safety.
Auburn faces pass-heavy offenses down the stretch with Arkansas, Ole Miss and Texas A&M all left on the docket. The Tigers have to continue bringing the pain from the secondary if they want a winning record heading into November.