#18 Auburn Football 2012 Preview

Auburn Tigers

Overall Rank: #18
#6 SEC
Auburn College Football 2012 Team Preview
Auburn Team Page


It is odd to say that a team that won the BCS National Championship just a year earlier would be happy with an 8-5 record, but that is the case with Auburn. The Tigers lost so much talent from their title team many pegged them as team that might not even reach a bowl in 2011. But instead they went 4-4 in SEC play and won eight games overall. This is a young group still growing up, so they should only be getting better. However, Coach Gene Chizik has new coordinators on both sides of the ball and that may take a little getting used to for this squad.

2011 Record: (8-5, 4-4)
2011 Bowl: Chick-fil-A Bowl vs. Virginia (W 43-24)
Coach: Gene Chizik (30-10 at Auburn, 35-29 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Scot Loeffler
Defensive Coordinator: Brian VanGorder

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Onterio McCalebb, RB, 641 yards
Passing: Clint Moseley, QB, 800 yards
Receiving: Emery Blake, WR, 613 yards
Tackles: Daren Bates, LB, 104
Sacks: Corey Lemonier, DE, 9.5
Interceptions: T’Sharvan Bell, CB, 2; Jake Holland, LB, 2; Demetruce McNeal, S, 2

Other Key Returnees: DT Kenneth Carter, CB Chris Davis, C Reese Dismukes, DE Nosa Eguae, LB Jonathan Evans, TE Philip Lutzenkirchen, S Demetruce McNeal, OT Chad Slade, G John Sullen, DT Jeffrey Whitaker

Key Losses: G Jared Cooper, RB Michael Dyer, LB Eltoro Freeman, OT A.J. Greene, OT Brandon Mosley, S Neiko Thorpe, QB Barrett Trotter

Even without Michael Dyer, the Auburn ground game is in good shape. Dyer rushed for 1,242 yards and ten touchdowns last season, but Onterio McCalebb and Tre Mason are ready to carry the load. McCalebb is the experienced senior who has been a great backup back for three years. Mason only carried the ball 28 times as a freshman, but he had a good spring and summer and will get a lot more action in 2012. Redshirt freshman Mike Blakely is an electric back, but needs to pick up the blocking schemes and do all those other unheralded things that running backs do besides run before he will make much of an impact. The offensive line is very young, but very talented. Center Reese Dismukes and tackle Chad Slade were thrown into the fire as freshmen and performed quite well. Redshirt freshman Greg Robinson will make his much awaited debut at left tackle this season. He is a big time recruit, but obviously inexperienced. The only likely starter on the line that is an upperclassman is guard John Sullen. On the other side of the ball, the defensive line has fewer issues. Their potential has pretty much already been reached. Tackles Jeffrey Whitaker and Kenneth Carter are back, but they will be pushed by sophomore Angelo Blackson. End Corey Lemonier totaled 9.5 sacks last season and will team up with Nosa Eguae and Dee Ford. The linebackers are strong too with the return of Jonathan Evans and Daren Bates. Those two seniors will be leaders on the defense. Bates tallied 104 tackles last season and will again be the main tackler for the Tigers. But junior Jake Holland may have something to say about that if he can take over the starting job in the middle. The depth at linebacker is not great, but freshman Kris Frost may fix that.

By SEC standards, the Auburn pass defense was awful last season. They ranked 51st in the nation, allowing 218.77 yards per game through the air, but that was dead last in the SEC. Chris Davis, T’Sharvan Bell and Demetruce McNeal all have starting experience and grew up last season, but it remains to be seen how much better they can be in 2012. With all of the pressure the deep front four should get on opposing quarterbacks, the secondary really should not be tested that much. But when they are tested, they need to avoid mistakes. The bigger question is at quarterback where Clint Moseley split time with the now departed Barrett Trotter. The results were not very good. Kiehl Frazier, a 6-2 sophomore, emerged from the spring camp with the starting job his to lose. Frazier saw a little action in 2011, but he mostly ran the ball. And that is what he can bring to the table that Moseley cannot. New coordinator Scot Loeffler wants a power running game first and foremost, but Auburn needs consistent play out of their quarterback as well. If Frazier can avoid mistakes and make things happen with his legs instead of forcing passes, he will be doing all Auburn is asking of him.

The Bottom Line:
Frazier’s job will be made easier too since Auburn has a great receiver in Emory Blake and a fine tight end in Philip Lutzenkirchen. Last year neither put up huge numbers since the Tigers had so much trouble throwing the ball. Blake is a big 6-2 wideout who led the team with 36 receptions for 613 yards. Lutzenkirchen is an even bigger target at 6-5 and 256 pounds. Seven of his 24 catches went for touchdowns, so Auburn will obviously look for him in the red zone. The offense should be better as long as the team can get consistent yardage from the running backs. That will open up space for Frazier to at least occasionally stretch the field. The defense returns way too much talent not to improve on their overall production. As long as they keep the turnovers down, the schedule is nice enough that this is a team that could be right in the mix for an SEC East title heading into the Iron Bowl.

Projected Bowl: Chick-fil-A Bowl

2011 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 182.31 (32nd in nation, 4th in conference)
Passing Offense: 155.54 (105, 9)
Total Offense: 337.85 (100, 8)
Scoring Offense: 25.69 (70, 7)
Rushing Defense: 189.23 (94, 11)
Pass Defense: 218.77 (51, 12)
Total Defense: 408.00 (81, 11)
Scoring Defense: 28.92 (78, 11)
Turnover Margin: .15 (44, 5)
Sacks: 1.69 (77, 9)
Sacks Allowed: 2.46 (91, 10)

Madness 2013 NFL Draft Rankings:
#83 Corey Lemonier

Madness 2012 Football Recruit Rankings:
#85 Ricky Parks
#86 Avery Young
#95 JaQuay Williams
#139 Ricardo Louis
#165 Joshua Holsey
#187 Patrick Miller
#189 Jovon Robinson
#232 Cassanova McKinzy
#238 Shane Callahan