Here we go!! It's another year of Auburn football, and the first year of the Gene Chizik era. We're 2 games into the season, Florida is the clear-cut, unquestioned #1, and to date, nobody has stepped up to challenge them. USC's offense looks weak. Texas struggled in the first half against Wyoming. Alabama looked terribad for a time against FIU, (terribad means worse than terrible). Oklahoma lost, and Ohio State just plain sucks. Even SCHlobberin' Lew HoltzCH's prediSCHion about Notre Dame finishing undefeated is no longer valid, (Thank God). But, this is trackemtigers.com. There's only one team here that matters, and that is Auburn. So where exactly are we right now?
Well, quite frankly, we're right about where I thought we would be at the end of last year. I'm thinking 7 wins will be a good season, 8 or 9 wins will be spectacular. We still don't have a quarterback. Chris Todd, although he has some of his arm strength back, has yet to show very much improvement. He's still throwing a few floaters, still holds on to the ball too long before he throws it a lot of times, and still completely folds under pressure. However, in the big scheme of things, we're doing well simply because QB play is about the only real problem we have at this point. I think that there are a few early season heroes for the Tigers that warrent mention:
1. KODI BURNS. You simply can't say enough good things about this kid. There are almost no words. He loses the starting QB job, and instead of whining and acting like a baby, which is what a lot of high-profile athletes would do, he stands up in front of his teammates and gives a speech about commitment, and just wanting help the team win. He doesn't care about himself, he cares about Auburn football. WOW. Just......WOW. What maturity. What leadership. There isn't an athlete in the country, pro or amateur, that couldn't take a lesson in from this kid. On top of that, as the Wildcat QB for the team, he is giving opposing defensive coordinators nightmares. He's started a year at QB, so he's already head and shoulders better than anyone else in the country at that position simply due to experience. He can run, catch, and throw. When he's out there, literally anything can happen. Any play can be called. And as a defensive coach or player, the worst feeling in the world is not knowing what's next. Kodi provides that element for Auburn, and for that reason, when he's on the field, I predict that Auburn's opponents' defensive coaches will be keeping the companies that makes Kaopectate and Maalox quite profitable this season.
2. GUS MALZAHN. I don't know about you guys, but I'm ready to have his children. Auburn has one of the best offensive coordinators in the country in this guy. I can only hope that we get at least 3 or 4 good years out of him before the inevitable parade of FBS schools begging him to be their next head coach starts happening. His offensive play calling and schemes to this point have been absolutely fantastic. He's utilizing what has always been a huge strength at Auburn, the power running game, while at the same time incorporating the spread formation passing that has become so popular all over the college game. Auburn has a double-edged offensive sword now, thanks to this man, and is more dangerous offensively than we have been in years. Once the 4 and 5 star offensive recruits start rolling in, Auburn is going to be deadly. And believe me, they will. Top offensive players want to play for top offensive coaches, where they will score points, get numbers, and be looked at by NFL scouts. Malzahn provides that. As long as he is here, Auburn will be a school that is looked at by pretty much every top offensive recruit in the country, and that makes for winning a lot of football games.
3. ONTERRIO MCCALEBB. This guy is a beast. True freshman, disgustingly fast, and a smart runner to boot. They say that the guy can actually chase squirrels and catch them. He's looked fantastic the first 2 games, and is making a case for Freshman of the Year. This guy will be carrrying the ball on Sundays one day, mark my word.
4. GENE CHIZIK. The head coach warrents mention on this list. Why? Because, in my view, since he was hired at Auburn, he has done EVERYTHING RIGHT. He endured the meltdown that came with his hiring from the Auburn faithful that wanted Mike Leach, Steve Spurrier, Turner Gill, or ANYBODY but Chizik. I'll raise my hand as well, I was one of the meltdownees. But Chizik showed up, hired a great staff, hit the ground running and got some amazing recruits in, and has pretty much done everything that has needed to be done to help Auburn recover from the disaster that was the 2008 season. Since then, he's let his coaches coach, his players play, and he's stayed the hell out of the way and not micromanaged his employees. My hats off to coach Chizik for enduring us fans that wanted a 'big name' coach and doing a better job then they probably would have anyway. I, for one, and FIRMLY planted in coach Chizik's corner and am not going anywhere. He's my coach now, and I'm proud to have him. Us 'meltdowners' so far have been proven dead wrong, and I've never been more happy about it. War Eagle coach! We're all proud to have you!
Everything isn't perfect by any means, but it's way better than last year. Besides QB play, the defense is scaring me a little bit. We seem to have gotten away from pressuring the QB like we used to, but my sources are telling me that the coaches are purposefully playing a bit soft right now because they don't want anybody to get hurt.
From what I'm hearing, the defense is going to open up a bit more as the year goes on. I very much would like to see Chris Todd improve, because in my view, he is the weakest link on the team right now. There were times on Saturday night where I'd watch him and get excited, and there were times where I'd watch him and want to throw something at the TV. One word can describe him right now: INCONSISTENT.
There were throws that he made that were as good as anybody in the country could make, and there were throws that I could have made better. But all in all, from what I saw, against a good defense, and especially against pressure, Chris Todd will NOT make the plays needed consistently. I really hope I'm wrong, but I just don't think I am. His arm is definitely better than last year, but last year he made Danny Weurffel look like Brett Favre. His first real test won't be for a few weeks. Until then, all we can do is wait and see. One thing I do like about him, though: He isn't turning the ball over. That goes a long way.
It's going to be a wild ride this year, and so far the Gene Chizik era is off to a great start! I really feel like the sky is the limit for the Auburn football program right now, and it's a great feeling. War Eagle everybody!!!!!!!!