Auburn College Football 2011: Football Is Alive and Well on the Plains of Auburn

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Auburn College Football 2011: Football Is Alive and Well on the Plains of Auburn
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After much collaboration and even more research this spring, a sound evaluation of the 2011 Auburn Tigers is now possible. With A-Day coming this Saturday, April 16, 2011 the news is very optimistic for Auburn fans.

After an offseason where the media vultures have incessantly attempted to derail the joy of college football, fans shall have a great season to look forward to in the SEC. While Alabama and LSU began the spring with huge advantages, neither team has progressed at the rate they had hoped.

Arkansas and Mississippi State have progressed at an exceptional rate that will make them factors in the SEC West come September.

The SEC East is once again up in the air. South Carolina has not taken advantage of their huge edge going into the spring. Georgia and Florida have closed the gap. With Tennessee looking even more solid for 2011, this leaves the SEC East up for grabs in 2011.

The Auburn Tigers face a tough schedule this fall. They must play LSU, Arkansas, South Carolina and Clemson in away games. These are all likely Top 25 teams. They also play Alabama and Florida at home. Mississippi State has come a long way in the off season, but they are not likely to be top a 25 caliber team in 2011.

With the difficult schedule in mind, it is now time to begin analysis of the 2011 Auburn Tigers.

Quarterback

The loss of Comeron Newton was rumored to be the demise of the 2011 edition of the Tigers on the plains. This is simply not the case. The quarterback battle has been fierce and is still an on going process. Most SEC teams would feel very lucky to have the kind of performance either of the top prospects has served up this spring.

While Clint Moseley has certainly put up a strong performance, Barrett Trotter seems to have a slight lead at this point. His advantage appears to be in the orchestration of the powerful rushing attack.

Running Back

Michael Dyer and Onterio McCalebb have both improved on what was already jaw dropping performance. If these two stay healthy, the Tigers will have one of the most formidable duos at running back in college football.

Anthony Morgan sprained his knee and Tre Mason will join the team this summer. These two should bring needed depth as the 2011 season matures.

H-Back

Philip Lutzenkirchen has continued to develop as one of the best tight ends in college football. He is only getting better with experience and will be a very strong performer in 2011.

Ladarious Phillips is the developing red shirt freshman fullback that will have an impact this season. His potential is almost unlimited and he continues to improve in both strength and agility daily. He could be a very important player in the overall success of the offense this year.

There is a wealth of talent expected to join the team this summer and contend for playing time at this position.

Receiver

Emory Blake reached “go to” status as a receiver in 2010. He is expected to continue to develop and improve this season. He could easily be a thousand yard caliber receiver this year.

Quindatius Carr has always been a superior deep threat, but seems to have developed more of the necessary intermediate skills this year. He will impact the 2011 receiving production in some capacity.

DeAngelo Benton appears to be developing into the receiver his abundant talent makes him capable of. He should be an impact player in 2011.

Trovon Reed is a threat to take it all the way every time he touches the football. He will be used for impact plays as a receiver and also for various rushing and wildcat sets.

Auburn goes eight deep with quality receivers this season. This will enable the offense to utilize their numbers and speed to deteriorate the coverage ability of every SEC team they face this season.

Offensive Line

The starting offensive line is not set in stone just yet. The overall performance of the unit has been rumored to have exceeded all expectations coming into this spring. It appears the depth on the offensive line will be better than it has been in years.

Auburn fans can expect solid performance from this reworked unit. They are big, strong and very athletic.

Defensive Tackles

This is a position that will see a change in 2011. The new defensive line schemes have these players performing a modified role, when compared to the 2010 version. Jeffrey Whitaker, Derrick Lykes, Jamar Travis and Kenneth Carter are especially suited to this new scheme.

Auburn fans can expect to see both four and three down linemen sets for the 2011 season. The defensive tackle position will be rotated regularly to match the defensive goals on any particular play.

Auburn does have a dominate defensive tackle that will require a double or triple team. This will allow for flexibility at the position. Pressure to the opposition quarterback will be sure and swift in 2011 and the rusj defense could be as good as or better than the 2010 version.

Defensive End

This position is absolutely loaded for Auburn. The speed and athleticism is simply off the charts. Nosa Eguae and Corey Lemonier seem to have anchored their positions. They have both improved their strength and explosiveness for this season. Craig Sanders and Dee Ford bring an element of speed and power that will be utilized as well.

Joel Bonomolo and Justin Delaine bring even more depth to this loaded position. Coach Mike Pelton is expected to use the incredible wealth of talent at this position to make life miserable for opposition offensive coordinators this year. Expect the tackles for loss and sacks to come in larger quantities this season.

Linebacker

This is another position of transition for 2011. The line between linebacker and defensive end will be blurred at times. This will be a very athletic group of linebackers that will fly around the field and make plays.

What should be an outstanding defensive line should make the transition at linebacker easier this season.

Jake Holland, Daren Bates, Jonathan Evans, ElToro Freeman, Jawara White and Ladarius Owens are all providing Coach Ted Roof a variety of options at this position. They will be very solid in 2011.

Defensive Backs

This was a position that was perceived to be a weakness on the 2010 team. While this was somewhat true against the pass, they were very solid against the run. This should change in 2011 with what appears to be upgrades at every position.

Neiko Thorpe and Demetruce McNeal are developing into a very solid pair at the safety position.

T’Sharvan Bell, Chris Davis, Jonathon Mincy and Jonthan Rose seem to have the corner positions well in hand.

Ikeem Means, Ryan White and Drew Cole will add depth. True freshmen Erique Florence is expect to come in and contribute this summer.

Auburn fans can expect much better overall performance from this unit in 2011.

Kicking

Auburn is replacing one of the most clutch kickers in their history this season. Fans can expect more touchbacks on kickoffs, but may see a falloff in clutch field goal performance. Cody Parkey and Chandler Brooks are competing for this position.  

Punting

This position seems headed for improvement in 2011. Steven Clark seems to be making progress in his second year.

Coverage

This is an area where the team will have to depend on true freshmen in 2011, as the roster is very talented, but thin in experience.

Returners

The return positions are up for grabs in 2011. Auburn has a wealth of talent competing for these positions.

Overview

Much has been made in the off season about the numbers on the roster at Auburn. This is hardly the problem it was in 2009, when several walk-ons had to be counted in the 60 man travel roster. While the scholarship numbers in 2009 are similar, the ones that are healthy and actually able to play are much better for 2011.

The 2011 Auburn team is very solid at every position and this will make for a formidable team. Auburn has the talent and ability to compete with every team on their schedule, with the expectation of winning.

The eventual success of this season will ride with new and largely inexperienced players filling the gaps left by departures. This process seems to be well under way and largely successful at this point.

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