I don’t much feel like recapping today’s game for obvious reasons. Wisler pitched pretty well, but the offense couldn’t score if you spotted them a thousand bucks and dropped them off in Bangkok. Here’s an Auburn preview instead.

“Farthest from your mind is the thought of falling back; in fact, it isn’t there at all. And so you dig your hole carefully and deep, and wait” – 506 PIR Currahee Scrapbook

To be an Auburn man is to understand that you are forever surrounded by bigger, more prominent, better funded state-name schools on all sides. It’s the kind of thing that begets patience, paranoia, and a bit of a mean streak. Last year’s season was a setback, no doubt. But you’ve come a long way baby when a setback is 8-5 as opposed to what would’ve been considered pretty good not too long ago. It does feel like the spring is back in their step this season.

They are a sexy pick for the playoff and widely considered to have a very good chance at another SEC title. There is still a schedule that has LSU, Georgia, Alabama, and the Mississippis on it every year, as well as at least one tough OOC foe in Louisville. The team looked pretty good through seven games last year only to come apart at the end, giving back all the luck they got in 2013 along with a less than stout defense.

The offense:
For a guy who started only a couple of games last year, Jeremy Johnson sure is well thought of. I suspect that’s because he looks quite a bit more like the prototypical quarterback than most. Big, tall, rocket arm and can move around in the pocket but not a run first guy like Marshall. Similarly, he’s got a lot of respected but less than fully vetted talent in the backfield with him.

Roc Thomas is explosive and Jovan Robinson was the top rated JUCO running back last season. Either is a threat to maintain Auburn’s run of SEC rushing leaders. Kerryon Johnson is an intriguing talent and an Alabama Mr. Football that looks to come in as a change of pace playmaker. The receiving corps is anchored by veterans Duke Williams and Ricardo Louis with plenty of depth.

Despite losing one of its historically great players in Reese Dismukes, Auburn’s o-line figures to be as good or potentially even better and a lot deeper. Avery Young figures to be a potential first round pick at tackle, and Kozan, Golson, and Coleman all have experience. Guard Braden Smith has been a beast this spring. I think we can all agree that a Gus Malzahn offense figures to be a good to great one year in and year out at this point.

The defense:
Well this is where it all went pear-shaped last year. And yet having said that, there is plenty of reason to think things will be much different. Will Muschamp has earned his rep of being a defensive guru, and bringing along Travarious Robinson and luring away Lance Thompson from Alabama will help.

As with the offense, the talent is already there. The big name of course is Carl Lawson, all-SEC freshman DE who was lost last year to injury. He has looked every bit as good post rehab. DTs Montravious Adams is an NFL lock when he decides to go, and redshirt Dontavious Russell also figures to start upfront. Bluest of blue chips Byron Cowart may well see significant time this year. Auburn gets back it’s best two linebackers in Kris Frost and Cass Mckinzey. Auburns secondary got torched regularly last year, but brings in experienced newcomers Tray Mathews formerly of Georgia and Blake Countess, all big 10 from Michigan to shore things up immediately. There’s not much depth in back, but the starters look a lot better.

Special teams:
Auburn routinely has a very good kicking game which dropped off a wee bit last year as Daniel Carlson had to do the punting as well as placekicking and field-goals. Ian Shannon figures to take over the punting this year and lighten the load. They have plenty of talented open field runners to get a return game going again, but fumbles killed them last year. That has to change.

Most Auburn fans can’t wait for the season to start, but then again we felt that way last year too. Still, scheduling favors us, as much as it can anyway, getting Georgia and Bama at home. Couple that with an offense that should be as good as ever and a defense that figures to improve a ton, and you get a great chance of going a long way. Too much has to go right for Auburn to go undefeated, but 10-1 should get them to Atlanta, and that’s what I’m going with. If that pans out, I don’t see any reason why they couldn’t win two more and carry on with their every year or so appearance in the national championship.

It’s great to be an Auburn Tiger these days – feels like the program will be elite for a long time to come. And if it doesn’t work out this year, well, we will dig our hole carefully and deep and wait.