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Early Season Thoughts on Auburn and the SEC

After watching the replay of Saturday's contest with Arkansas State again, there's little question the Auburn defense is far from ready to face what's ahead in the coming weeks. Most startling was how often players were out of position Saturday. It was more than just tackling. And unfortunately, these things typically aren't corrected in a week.

Many will point to the absence of Craig Stevens or the liberal substitutions by Auburn defensive coordinator Ted Roof - including the play of many freshmen. Hopefully, that did play a role. But with Mississippi State, Clemson and South Carolina on the calendar in September, my suggestion is that Gene Chizik take off his head coaching hat and start working overtime with his defense. He may be their only hope.

One game doesn't warrant pushing the panic button, but there was not a whole lot of good out there Saturday night for this unit to hang its hat on. We should have a definitive answer on this group a week from Saturday night after Clemson visits.

Despite Saturday's opening performance, we still have a long ways to go before we know just how good quarterback Cam Newton will be in an Auburn uniform. But I'll go out on a limb and predict something now.

If Gus Malzahn returns as Auburn's offensive coordinator in 2011, Newton will be a Heisman Trophy finalist and make the trip to New York. With his talent and Malzahn's offense, Newton has a chance to break all of the SEC's single season passing records. If he succeeds, you can bet Auburn will be in the top five nationally. Put me on record now.

The SEC East could be decided on Saturday when Georgia visits South Carolina. This early in the season, it's hard to read anything into the week one results. Both schools were impressive in their openers. However, Florida struggled at times with Miami (Ohio); but it would be foolish to remove them as front-runners.

The winners of Saturday's matchup in Columbia will essentially advance to the division championship against the Gators later in the year. A loss by Steve Spurrier could signal the beginning of the end for him. For Georgia's Mark Richt, a loss will make the Florida contest in Jacksonville all the more important for his future.

Don't you love college football? Only in this sport can week two contests mean so much.

Don't forget that Acid Reign will be Live Blogging from here on Thursday night. If you've never watched a game while following his threads and giving your two cents, I highly recommend it.  I hope you'll join us! 

Until Thursday...

War Eagle!