Auburn Tigers Football 2010: Mid Season Report Card
Half of the season has already past. Pretty unbelievable, isn't it?
Auburn got out to a quick 6-0 start this season, with four of those wins being decided late in the fourth quarter or overtime. Drama has been a constant theme on the Plains so far. Here's a breakdown of grades for many facets of Auburn's team.
As always, comment, debate, and throw out your own grades!
Offense: A -
The 2010 Auburn offense, as expected, has been more potent with Cam Newton at the helm. His ability to run and scramble has added another dimension to Gus Malzahn's already impressive arsenal.
Auburn leads the SEC in rushing, with Mario Fannin, Onterio McCalebb and Michael Dyer all getting carries. Those three along with Cam Newton form a quartet that is tough to stop.
The passing game has been there when it has needed to be. Newton has made some throws indicative of a first year starter, but he's shown great touch on the deep ball and is completing nearly 65 percent of his passes. Darvin Adams continues to be a go to guy, while Emory Blake and Philip Lutzenkirchen have emerged as more reliable receiving threats.
The offensive line featuring four seniors has stepped up to the plate. They're a huge reason why Auburn leads the SEC in rushing and they allow Newton the time to make plays.
The offense has room to improve, but has definitely led the team this season. They receive an A-.
Defense: C +
The Auburn defense has been a roller coaster ride. They won the Mississippi State game on the road, while the offense didn't score a single point in the second half. Then, they gave up a ton of points early in the Clemson and South Carolina games.
But they've only allowed 13 points in the fourth quarter/OT all season.
The defensive line has been the strength so far. Nick Fairley has emerged as a SEC Defensive Player of the Year candidate, while Mike Blanc and Zach Clayton have also played well inside. Antoine Carter, Nosa Eguae and Michael Goggans have played well at defensive end. Opposing quarterbacks have felt nearly constant pressure all season.
Josh Bynes, Craig Stevens and Daren Bates have been solid at linebacker. The front seven has done a great job limiting opponents' run games. They have held their opponents to less than 100 yards per game on the ground. Ted Roof's emphasis all season has been on stopping the run. But...
The pass defense has to continue to improve. There have been good signs at times, like holding Mississippi State's Chad Bumphis at bay. However, Alshon Jeffrey came in and torched AU's defense, and Kentucky's Randall Cobb did the same thing. Needless to say, the secondary will get a huge test this week with Ryan Mallett coming to town.
There's still a ton to work on, but Auburn's defense has been good when they've needed to be. They're slightly above average, so I'll give them a C+.
Special Teams: B
This has been the biggest area of improvement for Auburn this season. Last year they would have struggled to even pass with a D, but they've improved almost across the board.
Wes Byrum, though he missed two field goals against South Carolina, has been mostly rock solid. Freshman Cody Parkey has come in on kickoffs and done a good job.
Demond Washington is on the verge of breaking a kickoff return at some point, and Quindarius Carr has been very solid at catching punts, something that Auburn lacked last year.
The punting game has been weaker with the departure of Clinton Durst, but freshman Steven Clark is getting a chance to show what he can do now.
Kick coverages have been drastically improved. Special teams standouts like Craig Sanders, Demetruce McNeal, and Shaun Kitchens are doing a fantastic job.
Auburn saw firsthand last year that special teams mistakes can cost a team football games. They've been well above average this year so far, earning a "B" grade.
Coaching: A -
Gene Chizik brought back his entire staff for year two, and it has paid dividends. The offensive personnel have benefited from being under Gus Malzahn for a second offseason, and all the position coaches seem to feel very comfortable at Auburn.
Offensively, Coach Malzahn has been willing to run and work the clock this year, which has been crucial. The offensive staff have been brilliant at adjusting to game situations. They continue to learn what Cam Newton can do, and adjust accordingly. They've entered each game with a solid game plan about how to attack each defense.
Many people question Ted Roof's ability as a defensive coordinator, which I understand. There have been good and bad moments for this defense. Every time they've needed a stop, they've been able to come up with one.
However, there are some fundamental things that need to be improved. Corners must try to find the ball more. There have been quite a few missed tackles, and a few complete breakdowns in coverage.
Gene Chizik, Trooper Taylor and company have this team believing they can win each week. They've rallied the fan base around them, and continue to tear up the recruiting trail. I'm not sure people could have expected any more from this staff when they were hired. I'll give them (as a whole) a B +.
Overall: B +
Obviously, Auburn is 6-0 and No. 7 in the country. Not many people (even Auburn fans) would have predicted that. So Auburn's overall grade has to be pretty high.
There's enough to improve on that Auburn definitely hasn't peaked as a team. Coach Chizik likes saying that Auburn hasn't played a complete four quarter game yet. And he's right on the money.
The Tigers have found ways to win, and simply outplayed their opponents late in games. The players and coaches deserve a lot of credit for that.
Considering that teams like Oregon, Boise State, TCU and Nebraska probably get A's or A+'s for their play so far, I'll give Auburn a B +, keeping in mind that they still have an upside and still must play the toughest part of their schedule.
What do you all think? Comment below!