AUBURN, Ala. – Six months ago today, Gene Chizik and his Auburn football team was gearing up for a primetime showdown with Clemson at the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Classic in Atlanta.
Six months from now, Gus Malzahn and the Tigers will have just taken on Washington State in Malzahn’s grand return to Jordan-Hare Stadium.
It’s a new day, Gus has declared over and over again. And indeed it is.
Doesn’t mean last year never happened.
Today kicks off a new weekly feature on WarEagleExtra.com this spring. Every Friday from now until the end of May, I’ll hop in the DeLorean and provide a glimpse to the past – evaluating game tape from whatever game was six months prior – as well as one into the future, looking ahead to whichever opponent awaits six months from that date.
Now, before you fire off that rebuking e-mail … I get it. This is a brand-new system on both offense and defense. To view replays of Auburn’s 2012 struggles in the passing and tackling games and think that applies to the 2013 season, it would be ignorant and irrelevant … and just plain mean to fans, in all honesty.
That’s not the intent. When I asked most of Malzahn’s assistants last week how they planned to approach 2012 game tape, the consensus answer went something like this: they’ll watch it to evaluate athleticism and game reaction, but not so much to judge how, say, Chad Slade or Gabe Wright or Quan Bray or Demetruce McNeal will fit into these brand-new schemes.
Not a bad way to go about it. It’s lucid, really. Because, let’s be honest, there’s not one single player on this roster (other than punter Steven Clark and kicker Cody Parkey) I would bet my house or yours on absolutely topping the depth chart when Washington State comes to town Aug. 31.
Tre Mason and Dee Ford, maybe. But hey, guys lost their starting spots when Chizik replaced coordinators and altered schemes for the 2012 season, so changeover is to be expected once again.
So, let’s take the lead of these new Auburn coaches and make what we can out of last year’s evidence. Basically, each Friday on WarEagleExtra.com, you’ll read about the good, the bad and the ugly I see on game film, as these tidbits apply for next season.
And then, of course, a quick breakdown of the 2013 opponents will be included as well.
Obviously, we’ll start today with Auburn’s 24-19 loss to Clemson, which frankly was the Tigers’ best all-around game last year. Plus, we’ll look ahead to what Wazzu – led by Mike Leach, another offensive innovator like Malzahn – presents for next year’s opener.
I hope you enjoy. Believe me, I’m eagerly anticipating football season’s arrival as much as you are.
Aaron Brenner, firstname.lastname@example.org