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Auburn Football: They Are Who We Thought They Were

Tiger HistalmosAnalyst IOctober 28, 2009

AUBURN, AL - SEPTEMBER 19:  A general view of Jordan-Hare Stadium during the game between the Auburn Tigers and the West Virginia Mountaineers on September 19, 2009 in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

It seems everywhere you look on the message boards and articles these days, someone is trying to explain the problem with Auburn. 

"Chris Todd's arm is giving out..."

"Gus Malzahn's offense isn't working..."

"The defense isn't good..."

I find the whole situation a bit disturbing amongst some of the Auburn faithful.  To me, the ones crying foul on the team are the same ones that were asking for crow sandwiches to be made by the dozen earlier in the season.

I understand fans want the team to be successful.  I am right there with you on that sentiment. 

The fact though is this:  Auburn is a not-so-deep football team who has played for eight weeks straight.  Depth is causing issues all over the place.  Lets break it down:

Offense:

On offense, it's easy to blame Chris Todd for the mishaps on the team.  Upon closer inspection though, it is easy to see that it's much more than just Todd. 

Onterio McCalebb has been hampered by an ankle injury that doesn't give him the speed he once had.

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Besides Terrell Zachery and Darvin Adams at wide receiver, there hasn't been anyone else who has stepped up in reserve behind them. 

As well as Ben Tate has been running, Auburn can ill afford to lose him.  He is the only true power back Auburn has this season. 

The offensive line has been blessed so far this season in not receiving a major injury to any of the starting five.  Needless to say, it doesn't mean they aren't beaten up. 

And in the midst of all these players, execution has dropped off.  It is as simple as the plays are not being made as they were earlier in the season. 

Defense:

The defense has been gashed at times throughout the season.  As the season has gone on, it has become more obvious that the lack of players is hurting the team.

Starting in the secondary, how many people realize that Auburn only has one true starting safety? 

If you guessed Zac Etheridge, then you understand where I'm coming from.

The linebackers only have four scholarship players, and every single one of them plays about the extent of each game.

The defensive line has been the luckiest group as far as bodies, but basically only six players rotate each game. 

Head Coach Gene Chizik has said earlier in the season that the margin of error for this team is very slim.  As the season has progressed, that margin has gotten thinner.

If you're looking for answers why teams have picked apart the defense, it shouldn't be to hard to see why.

Another point to be made is this team is not last year's team in the ways of being divided.  The division of the team last season came from the division with the coaching staff.  Auburn doesn't have that this season.

Regardless what others may say about the team, the word in town is the in-fighting isn't happening. 

The people who live in Auburn, the true fans, and the die hard supporters can understand what is going on.

If you still can't understand, then I don't know how much easier to spell it out.

Is Auburn a bad football team?  I wouldn't say that they are a good football team. 

Auburn is about where we all thought they would be this season.  A six- or seven-win team with a bowl date somewhere on the lower end of the bowl tier. 

Does that mean the coaching staff is not doing anything about the situation now?  I doubt that. 

They are trying to put the best players on the field to win each football game.  Unfortunately, especially on defense, the best players are banged up and tired. 

The coaching staff won't come out and say that this is a tired football team, but any right-minded person would realize that playing eight straight weeks will take its toll. 

Even for 18- to 21-year-old kids playing out their dream every day.

To conclude, Auburn is in a typical first year structure with a new coaching staff.  There is talent with these bunch of Tigers, but much of it is not battle-tested. 

We all got caught up in the five-win streak and how well this team might do, but reality isn't always as nice.

It's looking like with each passing week, Auburn is what we thought it would be.