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Fast 40 countdown: Auburn Tigers

August 31, 2011  |  By Benjamin Miraski

Auburn Tigers

Last season: 14-0, 7th in the MRI

The good: Auburn plays Utah State, Florida Atlantic and Samford, so they should win at least three games.

The bad: Here's to hoping Tiger fans enjoy the crystal football while it remains at Auburn (the NCAA should be calling any time now). The memories of last season's championship run will have to keep Auburn fans warm at night when the liquor and this year's version of the Tigers do not.

Auburn returns just six starters from last season. That means no Cam Newton, no stellar offensive line, no Nick Fairley, no repeat title run.

The Tigers were decimated by graduation and the lure of the NFL, but you can't blame the players who left. The high note that was last season was not going to be duplicated without the singular star that was Newton. Once he decided to go, it was just a matter of time before everyone followed.

Auburn does have Michael Dyer and Onterio McCalebb back from last season. Dyer put up 1,000 yards in a silent way running behind Newton and McCalebb added over 800.

But the offensive line that cleared the way for those yards is mostly gone. Only Brandon Moseley returns from last year's full time starters. That means there will be a lot more pressure on new quarterback Barrett Trotter and a lot less time to get through the holes and make it up field.

But maybe all the change is a good thing. Last year's Auburn defense (and the 2009 version) were not of the same quality as Tiger fans were used to. Newton was forced to bring the Tigers back into games time and again last season, and Auburn won six games by a touchdown or less thanks to a less than impressive unit.

The defensive lapses were the main reason that Auburn ranked so low in the MRI last year. The team gave up 368 yards per game, and more than 24 points for the second season in a row.

It was more shocking that Auburn went undefeated than anything, which is a testament to how good the offense was.

If anything, this Auburn team is almost impossible to preview because they will have the look of an entirely new squad. Nothing of the flash and dazzle is back.

It could be a long year on the plains.

Best name: While Ikeem Means deserves special mention, this goes to T'Sharvan Bell

Trending: Down - There is no way that Auburn will come close to last season's performance. If the Tigers at least played Vanderbilt, they would have a chance of winning an SEC game. As it stands, every team but Vandy is better than the Tigers in conference. With so many close wins last year, most of the based just on the singular performance of Newton, the losses should quickly pile up for the Tigers. Rolling Toomer's corner is going to be a rare occurrence in 2011. Look for Auburn far down the MRI list this season, possibly in the bottom 20 teams.

   

Posted August 31, 2011 1:28 PM

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