I am sure you have read and heard all of the position battle stories that surround this version of Auburn football. In fact, you are probably sick of hearing them. I understand. Really, I do, it's just most of them center around the QB battle. I get that, and why many believe that it could be the most important battle. This post is here to argue that not only is it NOT the most important position battle this fall, it's not even the second most important one.
Let's go ahead, and debunk the myth that QB is a position of worry this season. Auburn has two QB's that have two or more years in his system. Gus Malzahn is the coach of this position and with his winning record average with is 8.5 games per season with that scenario, there shouldn't be many concerns among the AU faithful. There are at least four potential "Wildcat" candidates that would be a threat to any opposing defense, as well. They are, in no particular order, Trovon Reed, C.J. Uzomah, Onterio McCalebb, and Quan Bray. There could possibly emerge a couple others. Two or three packages for two of those candidates, plus the regular offense is too much firepower to worry about the QB battle. Barring any season ending injuries of course. That places this position battle as third most important on my list.
The second most important position battle is the offensive line. Ask former Tiger coach Pat Dye where games are won on SEC fields, and he'll flat out tell you the trenches.
This sentiment was echoed by several coaches recently during the SEC Media Days event, when asked what separates the SEC from most other conferences, to a man the coaches said "The play of the defensive linemen, in the SEC".
Creating a two deep rotation is very important here, so that Auburn can have strong and energetic play through the 4th quarter in each game. We have very little information to go so far, but this report by Jay G. Tate of the Montgomery Advertiser indicates that "all is not well in Metropolis"
• Eric Mack doesn’t look good to me. He spent part of his day jogging with John Sullen. Since Sullen said he’s a little over his weight ceiling and Mack certainly looks like he’s over his, I’m guessing the jogging is a weight-management enterprise. Sullen was making the rounds quite nicely. Mack was gasping for air.
Still, there are plenty of candidates that can play, and want to. Jeff Grimes will get his two deep, and they will be ready.
The single most important team* position resides on the defensive side of the ball. No other part of Auburn's defense was questioned, and maligned last season than were the defensive backs. Interception numbers were down from past AU secondaries, and coverage was quite loathsome at times. In some games it seemed we couldn't cover an out route if our very lives depended on it. Below average QB's had great games days on us, and one freshman phenom had an All-Star performance day on us.
This season's secondary can not afford to be inconsistent, and porous. There are too many areas of uncertainty that surround this team to have a major weak link in it's defense. There is however a plethora of talent that is available, and by all accounts Robenson "Cadillac" Therezie is very athletic, and very, very fast. I have asked if he was as fast as McCalebb, and will let you know when I find out.
This week we got the news that Anthony Swain, who was recruited as a true safety, came to Auburn in great shape, but at 235 pounds. He has been moved to linebacker, and this takes one more talented body away from the defensive backfield that we had all hoped would contribute early. No worries, there are plenty of talented individuals that can play back there. The two deep needs to be established quickly, the nickle and dime packages as well, so that repetition can build quality play before the season begins.
If there is an area of major concern, it's at this position, and therefore makes this the most important position battle for the Tigers in 2011.
*Punt returner is seen as a singular position. I knew you would ask.