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Why Auburn is a Contender not a Pretender in 2009

Ian Berg@@ShugJordanPkwyCorrespondent IJuly 18, 2009

What? Am I serious! What do I mean that Auburn is going to be a contender in 2009? Let’s begin.

When you look at the 2008 season and what became of the highly touted spread offense that was brought to Auburn to beat Clemson in Atlanta, you would have to assume that the Tigers would want to stay far away from the “spread” offense…..wrong.

As we all know, Gus Malzahn the high school coach turned college coordinator genius was hired by the very unpopular (at least initially) Gene Chizik and a lot of us had our initial flashbacks to the horrors of a 5-7 season and a win by one point, and we only scored three. What was different about this “spread” than the offense that led to the demise of a tenured SEC head coach?

The Malzahn System is a far cry from that of Tony Franklin. The ground game becomes the bread and butter of the system that turned Arkansas into and SEC West champion with Darren McFadden and Felix Jones in the backfield. The same system that put Tulsa, yes Tulsa, into the number one spot offensively. He did that in just two years. What does that mean for Auburn?

It is simple. Auburn has a lot of a really good thing. Auburn has and will always seem to have a great backfield. The running game for Auburn this year, barring any major offensive line injuries, should be stellar. This will take pressure off of the starting quarterback who is yet to be determined.

Whoever it may be, I am willing to bet that they will be able to thread the needle with the football. Whether it’s the likes of Kodi Burns, Neil Caudle, or possibly Chris Todd, the guy better be able to throw and throw it accurately. Malzahn has stated previously his quarterback doesn’t have to be a burner; he just has to be able to find the holes to run to when he can. But of course, being a burner probably doesn’t hurt your chances either.

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The Auburn defense is looking a little thin already and we aren’t even into fall practice yet. The good thing is that there seems to be a decent amount of depth on the defensive side of the ball. A lot of these guys seem to be stepping up and a unit that is still pretty solid across the board will have a chance to provide some solid leadership on and off the field.

With incoming freshman expected to help at the linebacker spot most likely, if coached properly that may not be such a big concern. An amazing story and example of that is Spencer Pybus. He didn’t receive his offer until signing day and broke onto the scene early in the season and saw decent playing time as a true freshman. This shows that good coaching with properly scouted talent will give you results.

The defense is the least of the concerns of the Auburn faithful. But the offense seems to be on the right track. No one will feel completely comfortable until the starter at quarterback is announced. Malzahn hopes to have that done by the first or second week of fall practice.

This has been a short analysis showing some evidence to support my theory. That theory being that Auburn will likely be a contender going into the final game of the season against Alabama. I don’t think anyone escapes the SEC West without two losses this season. That gives the top four a decent shot at the big game in Atlanta. Time will tell.

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