Recently, I've been hearing a lot of chatter about Auburn having a down season. Well, you could say that, I suppose, but we need to look into what a down season really is.
A down season is when you have expectations that you fall short of. If a team has the majority of their players on offense and defense coming back, the expectation is to be a contender for a title of either the conference, the national title or both, especially if you obtained either one the season before.
You could say that Alabama had a down season last year. Winning the national championship in 2009, most people expected 'Bama to repeat. Who wouldn't? Saban had the Heisman trophy winner returning at running back, with a backup that was considered to be even better, a senior quarterback and players on a defense that were very good.
But even though they were ranked No. 1 in the nation in the preseason, the drive to win wasn't like the title year. Coach Saban was on record saying that he was displeased with the attitude the team showed in 2010. By all accounts, the Tide had a down year, especially considering the players they had returning.
The 2011 Auburn team is much different than the 2010 national title winners. Auburn has only seven starters returning, ranking them 120th out of 120 schools.
This Auburn team is in transition. Auburn is having to transition a team full of mostly freshman and sophomores into an SEC contender.
It's one thing to be a star on the high school level, but to play at this level of speed and intensity takes time. The only way that can be achieved is to, well, play.
Right now, Auburn doesn't look to be on the same level with the LSU's and Alabama's, but with the experience these young Tigers are gaining, they will be a force in the SEC.
The road to Atlanta will go through Auburn.