Hello again everybody, and War Eagle!
October is where Auburn's season must be in fourth gear and gaining significant speed. If they intend to stay with the front runners, October is the time to get it done.
No less than five consecutive SEC games. Three of which are on the road. So here goes...
Tennessee SEC Oct. 3, 2009-Knoxville, TN
With new coach Lane Kiffin making sure all eyes and ears are on Knoxville, TN this spring, and opening practices to the press for the first time in ages, the Volunteers have a lot to prove this coming season.
Questions remain at the QB position, and with their leading returning rusher gone, things look bleak offensively. The line is suspect as well. This doesn't bode well for the incoming "superstar" running backs, Bryce Brown and David Oku.
On defense, the Vols return an All-American strong safety in Eric Berry, who is an imposing pass defender. The defensive front returns strong man Dan Williams to the tackle spot.
The staff at UT has a ton of work to do to catch up with Kiffin's off-field antics. If they don't, it may be a long year in Knoxville.
Arkansas SEC Oct. 10, 2009-Fayetteville, AR
Coached by former Tiger offensive coordinator Bobby Petrino, the Razorbacks are poised for a breakout year.
The offense should be guided by QB Ryan Mallett, a transfer from Michigan. The Hawgs are also returning their school record setting tight end D.J. Williams. Williams caught a single game record 10 catches in one game and set the season high mark with 61.
Running back won't be a problem either, with Michael Smith coming off a 1,072 yard season a year ago.
If Petrino can find ample replacements for two linemen, then the Hawgs should be a force.
On defense, the Hawgs return nine starters. Last year's freshman LB Jerry Franklin led the unit in tackles. As a matter of fact, the top 10 tacklers return from 2008.
The D-line should be anchored by DT Malcolm Sheppard.
The true weak spot from last year is the special teams. Petrino hired John L. Smith to shore up any potential hazards there.
Kentucky SEC Oct. 17, 2009-Auburn, AL
Coached by Rich Brooks, this Wildcat team may be on the verge of stepping up to the podium in the SEC East. There are currently only 11 BCS teams that have won their last three bowl games. Yep, Kentucky is one of them.
On offense, the Cats have an experienced QB in Mike Hartline. However, the line has some gaps to fill at the tackles.
On defense, they have three superstars that decided not to enter the NFL draft. Trevard Lindley earned second team All-American honors last year while Micah Johnson racked up an impressive 93 tackles. Along with Jeremy Jarmon at the DE position, the "D" looks strong this year.
With a plethora of returning experience, and/or starters on both sides of the ball, and Coach Brook's best recruiting class, spirits are running high up in Lexington, KY. As they should be.
Do not make the mistake of overlooking these Wildcats.
LSU SEC Oct. 24, 2009-Baton Rouge, LA
Coached by Les Miles, the Bayou Bengals were a mystery last year. With two coaches sharing responsibility of the defense, and the Merry-go-round at the QB position, the LSU Tigers showed their confusion at times on the field.
LSU must replace two starters on the offensive line and settle on a QB. However, all is not lost; the returning running back, Charles Scott, will give whomever is QB some time to get settled. Add the skills of Brandon LaFell at WR to that and the job becomes much easier.
On defense, the Bengal Cats must find adequate replacement for both DT's and middle linebacker. Adding to that, the DE position returns only one player with significant time, Rahim Alem.
This game has determined the outcome of the SEC West Champ for several of the past years. Former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville has been quoted as saying that this was "the most physical game each year that Auburn would play."
Mississippi SEC Oct. 31, 2009-Auburn, AL
There is much to be happy about in Oxford, MS these days. Coach Houston Nutt has 15 starters returning and just reeled in a top recruiting class.
On offense, the Rebels have a dependable and experienced QB in Jevan Snead, along with two top wideouts in Shay Hodge and Dexter McCluster returning.
The only question will be replacing the three losses on the line.
Defensively, this unit was shaky at best last season. With no real "star" to point to, coach Tyrone Nix says it's back to basics this year.
Well, that gets us through October. I believe this is Auburn's toughest test. If they can somehow get through this unscathed, the sky will be the limit. Until next time...
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