It feels good to be excited about AU football in March. Last year at this time there was a lot more worrying than anticipation going on. 2009 offered a lot of promise, but there were moments that left me not only frustrated but scratching my head (last drive against Kentucky anyone?) This year I want to see some things done differently. Although I give the team major kudos for what they accomplished last year, there is still major work to be done. Its a little early to discuss wins and losses I think, so I'm just going to focus on general x's and o's stuff. Here is my humble take on some things.
Malzahn's Offense: To say this is a concern is a bit deceptive. Its not really production I'm worried about so much as the way we produce in certain moments. Against Kentucky last season, we went straight Tony Franklin on the Wildcats. It is important to remember that we were in Malzahn's first year and our team was a little thin in experience and personnel but still. A few times, he showed questionable judgement, especially with the final offensive play(against UK). Against UGA, we came out guns blazin' and in the end fell by a TD to the dogs, only pulling within seven because of a Demond Washington return TD. In Baton Rouge, we were also off the mark a bit. Another thing I didn't like was the way the wildcat package was implemented, it got in the way more than it helped in my opinion. Ultimately though, I think Malzahn will have an even better offense game plan going into each game this upcoming season. After all, last year was landmark year for Auburn on offense.
Roof's Defense: I think Roof established himself with the Alabama game last year. He had a thin unit all year long and was able to squeeze more out of the D than almost anyone expected. I want to see a little more variety this year, and a good bit more QB pressure from his 2010 squad. Expecting this unit to be a wall is foolish, but I expect Roof to field a much much more capable defense that can help keep our opponents down more effectively. What I do like about Roof is that he has moved some guys around this spring and attempted to put more speed and talent on the field. Hopefully we can have some youngsters step up to bolster our defense even further.
Special Teams: No muffed punts. Point blank. I think I had 4 or 5 separate mild heart attacks last season. All coming on special teams plays where fundamentals were lacking. Kickoffs should be covered better too, but I have full confidence that Chizik will pushing hard in both of these departments.
Wide Receivers: Darvin Adams did a fantastic job year, I want someone to step up and help take some pressure off of this guy. He's going to be covered all year by our opponents number one corner and most likely doubled quite a bit. Someone, two guys even, need to take advantage of this and give us some more air support. If this happens, our offense could be moving the ball down the field scary fast.
Quarterback: I am hoping with every bone in my body that Newton is as advertised. I want a big time play maker at this position. A quarterback that can create positive plays out of seemingly dire ones can keep a team in games or win a team games that they would normally be out of. (See Arkansas). I've always wanted Auburn to have a Colt McCoy or Tim Tebow esque quarterback that could generate buzz around a team and be a big time leader for the program.
So thats all I've got for now. I got a lot more long winded than I wanted to, but I'm interested in what you guys have to say. I know its early on, but I just wanted to stir up some football talk. Overall, I am extremely excited about our potential this year. What do you guys think?