2013 Auburn Football Preview

Auburn’s quarterback situation holds some mystery, but Auburn fans should not give up on Kiehl Frazier. Remember the job Malzahn has done with other quarterbacks. Find out about the QB situation and more in our 2013 Auburn Football Preview.

2013 Auburn Football Preview

Only three years removed from winning a BCS championship, the Auburn Tigers are coming off one of the worst seasons in its limited history, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. The Tigers ranked 114th in points per game (18.7) as Auburn’s quarterbacks managed to throw just eight touchdowns combined. New head coach Gus Malzahn hopes to change all that as he returns to the Tigers as the head coach after serving as offensive coordinator in 2009-2011.

Auburn’s season hinges on the Iron Bowl, as do most seasons for “little brother” down on the plains. Everything is judged in how they relate to Alabama. So does Auburn stand a chance? Find out in our 2013 Auburn Football Preview.

In the SEC, where a good defense trumps all, Malzahn has to get his quarterback play to a point it’s even average if he wants his team to be relevant in 2013.

Although there’s currently a battle for the starting quarterback position, coach Malzahn has dropped several hints that he’s slightly leaning towards Kiehl Frazier, a player he recruited extensively in 2011. In fact, Frazier is in a spot much like Chris Todd was in 2009. If Malzahn can develop Frazier even remotely similar to the job he did with Chris Todd, a virtual human statue, he’ll continue to earn the legend of being a quarterback developing genius.

Frazier, or whomever the quarterback ends up being, won’t shoulder the workload alone, and if coach Gus can optimize his offense, his quarterback shouldn’t have to do much more then manage the game based on the scheme of this offense. Furthermore, despite Auburn’s offensive line being built around the run, the athleticism of the front five will be aimed at giving the quarterback time to find the open receiver. The only question is, does Auburn have a quarterback on campus who can do this with consistency?

Running back Tre Mason (Auburn’s leader in rushing yards last season) will look to build off his 1,000 yard year as the offensive line has been tailored to accommodate his speed and ability. Even tight end C.J. Uzomah will see a lot of blocking schemes because of his large size and inconsistency in the receiving aspect of his game. There’s no doubt a majority of Auburn’s success or failure will be credited to Tre Mason and the running backs in general (including Tide transfer Corey Grant) due to the power run scheme Malzahn seemingly has implemented for this season.

The wide receivers on the roster will get their fair share of rush attempts as Gus Malzahn hopes to diversify his rush attack and keep defenses on their toes. Jaylon Reed and Quan Bray will most likely serve as primary targets for the Auburn quarterback who ultimately wins the job. Regardless of who that is, he’ll need multiple security blankets like wide receivers taking handoffs to keep the defense guessing until he can progress his talents and not be so reliant on the running game.

Luckily for the Tigers, they have a capable defense with a decent mix of experience and physicality. Up front, Auburn is good at getting to the quarterback for either a sack or a hurry. And as long as the front four do their job, the secondary is chalked with juniors and seniors that have been around the block and are savvy to the more intricate parts of how SEC offenses work.

Every offensive coordinator’s dream, Auburn middle linebacker Jake Holland.

One of the glaring weaknesses on the Tiger’s defense is their linebacker corps; inexperience and a lack of cohesiveness as a unit provides a hole in the middle for opposing offensive coordinators to salivate over. This could lead to several problems, and if these linebackers can’t assist in stopping the running game, that elusive first SEC win in two years may not make it on the menu. Auburn is not good enough on offense to outscore anybody, and Cam Newton ain’t walking through that door this August. So their defense has got to grow up and develop or the Tigers will be sitting home watching everybody else go bowling again this post-season.

Auburn may not be ready to make another BCS run (now or ever), but they do have a vastly improved roster from a year ago, and under the guise and group psychology that a new coach like Gus brings (though he’s been a head coach for one year at a lower tier school) maybe it will be enough to generate a good “rebound season,” leading the Auburn faithful to once again gather at Toomer’s Corner to roll some wires and concrete poles.

Thanks for reading our 2013 Auburn Football Preview. Check back tomorrow as we examine Missouri.

—Special to the Capstone Report by Alex DeRemer.