Auburn Football: New Playmakers Stepping Up for Tigers

Matthew BrennanCorrespondent IISeptember 11, 2011

AUBURN, AL - SEPTEMBER 10:  Wide receiver Emory Blake #80 of the Auburn Tigers catches a pass against the Mississippi State Bulldogs in the first quarter on September 10, 2011 at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Alabama. (Photo by Butch Dill/Getty Images)
Butch Dill/Getty Images

The Auburn Tigers entered the 2011 season in need of some new playmakers on offense. With stars like Cameron Newton and Darvin Adams gone to the NFL, Auburn would need some new faces to step up if they were to continue 2010’s success.  

The Tigers already had some talented starters returning like running back Michael Dyer and tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen, but they weren’t going to be able to handle all of the load themselves. After Auburn’s 2-0 start to the new season, a few other players are beginning to make a name for themselves. Wide receiver Emory Blake, quarterback Barrett Trotter and freshman sensation Tre Mason are showing that Auburn isn’t rebuilding, but reloading after a national championship season.

Blake is a veteran who’s already contributed during his career, but 2011 has seen him thrive in his new role as the No. 1 receiver. He’s connected with Trotter for long touchdown passes in both games, and will enter the Clemson game as one of the top receivers in the nation with 203 yards. He has a chance to become Auburn’s first 1,000-yard receiver since Ronney Daniels in 1999.

Trotter was a question mark after winning the quarterback job in training camp, but so far he’s been a solid signal-caller while leading the offense to two victories. Although he is not a running threat like Newton, Trotter is an efficient passer whose experience in the offense is evident. He has an excellent quarterback rating of 177.6 after two games, with 407 yards and five touchdowns. Trotter should be able to compile some big numbers in Gus Malzahn’s offense over his final two seasons of eligibility.

On special teams, Mason has provided an immediate impact as a kick returner. A highly-touted recruit at running back, Mason started his career with a bang, returning a kick 97 yards for a touchdown against Utah State. Mason had another impressive return against Mississippi State and is also starting to see some time at running back.

Auburn had plenty of unknowns heading into this season, but after two games, many of the questions about how the Tigers will score points have been answered. It will be interesting to find out how close this new group of Auburn playmakers can come to reaching last season’s heights.