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Auburn Football: State of the Tigers, Plus Week 5 Picks


The 2012 Mayan calendar, which supposedly predicts doom for humanity in 2012, actually doesn’t count leap years, meaning the world probably won’t end this year. However, don’t tell that to Auburn fans, as a 1-3 start has some of the Tiger faithful thinking it’s the end of the world.

The negatives have piled up for Auburn in the first four games. The defense has been a major disappointment outside of the LSU game. Kiehl Frazier has 2 TDs and 7 INTs. The Tigers have been outscored 31-3 in the fourth quarter this year. The offense can’t get it going offensively against good competition, averaging under 200 yards of offense per game in SEC play.

However, this season can be salvaged. The Tigers played great in a 12-10 loss to LSU. Brian VanGorder’s defense put on a fantastic show against the #2 team in the country. The schedule isn’t quite as grueling in upcoming weeks, but it isn’t easy. Next week, Auburn hosts a reeling Arkansas team who’s started the season 1-3 as well, being outscored 121-57 in the last three games against UL-Monroe, Alabama and Rutgers. This is a winnable game for Auburn. Heck, if Auburn plays as well defensively as they did against LSU for the rest of the year, a five-game winning streak going into the Georgia game isn’t out of the question.

Positives for Auburn this year: I’ve already listed the many negatives for Auburn, but there have been bright spots. The defense played well against LSU. Special teams have been special this year outside of the LSU game. Corey Lemonier has made his case for being the best defensive end in the country, and Dee Ford isn’t half-bad either. Sammie Coates has emerged as a big weapon and Jay Prosch has done his part to help make the offense click. The offensive line has played well this year, as most sacks given up have been a result of Frazier holding on to the ball too long. The holes have been there for a talented stable of running backs.

What does one make of the QB situation? Kiehl Frazier has obviously struggled. As of right now, it doesn’t appear he’ll be the QB of the future that we thought he would be. However, saying he is a bad passer would be inaccurate. I have no doubt he has plenty of talent. He can throw the football well. He’s had some perfectly thrown balls this year, including several against LSU. However, what’s kept Frazier from being a good weapon in this offense is his mental make-up. Once he makes a mistake, it seems to stay in his mind the rest of the game. He has no pocket awareness whatsoever, so he never throws the ball away and takes too many sacks. I don’t want to sit here and bash him, because he’s a good kid and he has potential. But if he wants to make a name for himself at Auburn and keep the likes of Jonathan Wallace and Jeremy Johnson off his tail, he’ll have to improve his mentality on the field.

Is Gene Chizik on the hot seat? No. OK, let me elaborate… HECK no. The guy is two years removed from a national championship, guys. This year has been disappointing to say the least, but Chizik’s earned himself until at least 2013. If Auburn continues to struggle next season, then hot seat talks will be legitimate, but right now? No. Auburn is technically young, but youth isn’t really an excuse this year. Chizik has a good staff (outside of Scot Loeffler… so far) and he continues to recruit well. Next year, Chizik will get guys like Reuben Foster, Jeremy Johnson, Carl Lawson and Dee Liner. If he can’t win with them, he’ll be in trouble, but right now? No. Don’t listen to the lunatic fringe that lives on the Paul Finebaum radio show.

Did John L. Smith take a cheap shot at Auburn? Not really. The fact that this is a controversy is amazing to me. The embattled soon-to-be ex-Arkansas head coach was asked whether Bobby Petrino would be likelier to land at Auburn or Kentucky, and he said Auburn. This wasn’t really a cheap shot at Gene Chizik, even though it is very good bulletin board material for the Tigers. However, you have to feel for John L. Smith. He’s over $25 million in debt, he recently suffered a loss in the family and his team is 1-3, so an entire state is calling for his head. He’s not having a very good time, so anything he says right now may not represent how he actually feels. His comment should be a non-story.

Auburn’s 1-3 start is disheartening, but the schedule could see the Tigers go from 1-3 to 6-3 going into the Georgia game, so all is not lost this season, Tiger fans. All is not lost.

Week 5 SEC picks:

#1 Alabama 41, Ole Miss 17 (Ole Miss off to nice start, but they’re not winning in Tuscaloosa.)

#3 LSU 52, Towson 0 (Somehow, someway, Jordan Jefferson will throw a pick. I don’t even…)

#5 Georgia 45, Tennessee 20 (Tennessee’s defense is pretty bad. Georgia’s offense is pretty good.)

#6 South Carolina 28, Kentucky 20 (UK plays inspired but South Carolina avoids the upset.)

Texas A&M 41, Arkansas 34 (Texas A&M gets their first SEC win, sends Hogs to 1-4.)

Missouri 30, UCF 13 (Why are they playing AT Central Florida?)

Other notable games:

Texas Tech 34, Iowa State 27 (In a battle of unbeatens, bet on Tommy Tuberville.)

Oklahoma State 38, #12 Texas 34 (Pokes ride home-field advantage, get 3rd straight win over Texas.)

#4 Florida State 42, USF 14 (USF lost to Ball State. FSU beat Clemson by double-digits. This one gets ugly.)

#2 Oregon 56, Washington State 24 (Oregon continues their march towards a 12-0 record.)

#9 West Virginia 63, #25 Baylor 38 (WVU’s offense rebounds from scoring *only* 31 points last week.)

#20 Michigan State 24, #14 Ohio State 16 (Worst spot for College GameDay in recent memory.)

#22 Nebraska 19, Wisconsin 14 (Yay… more exciting Big Ten football…)

Upset Special: Arizona 28, #18 Oregon State 24 (Great run for the Beavers comes to an end.)