StatTiger: Numbers Show AU Has Work to Do

Stuart Carter writes about the need for all-around improvement for the 2013 Auburn football team.

Since winning the BCS National Championship in 2010, Auburn has won 11 football games and lost 14, giving the Tigers the non-distinguished mark of posting the worst two-year record following a national championship season among the last 50 winners.

Georgia Tech was next to last with a 13-11 record following its 1990 national championship season. The average winning percentage among the previous 50 national championship teams two seasons after winning it all was nearly 80 percent.

Auburn's collapse since bringing home the crystal football resulted in the firing of Coach Gene Chizik, which also makes the rebuilding process for Auburn's new head coach, Gus Malzahn, a challenging one with a revamped coaching staff plus major changes in scheme on both offense and defense.

To obtain a better perspective of how far the Tigers fell statistically, one should look at the team's national rankings in the nine major statistical categories. This includes run offense, pass efficiency offense, total offense and scoring offense. It also includes run defense, pass efficiency defense, total defense and scoring defense. Rounding out the categories is turnover margin.

From 1997-2010 Auburn's average national ranking in those nine statistical categories was No. 43. During the past two seasons it has dropped to 84. Malzahn's staff clearly has major work to do to get the Tigers ready to once again challenge for SEC championships.

Auburn's average ranking of 84th over the past two seasons is the result of finishing in the bottom half of the nation in 16 of the 18 major categories over the past two seasons. This occurred only 30 times out of 126 from 1997-2010. The 2012 Tigers became only the third Auburn team in the past 30 years to fail at finishing in the Top 25 of at least one of the nine major statistical categories. They also became the only Auburn team over the past 30 years to fall in the bottom half of the nation in every major statistical category with an average national ranking of No. 94. The 2001 and 2011 Auburn teams were the remaining two to not have one Top 25 finish in the last 30 seasons.

Newcomer Cameron Artis-Payne, the Offensive MVP of Abuurn's spring game, will be counted on to get the Tigers back on a winning track.

Eight Auburn teams during the past 25 seasons finished with an average ranking of No. 30 or better in the nine major statistical categories. This list includes the 1988, 1989, 1993, 1994, 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2010 squads. It should be noted the 2006 team wasn't far off the mark, which would give those nine teams a combined record of 96-14-2.

This is the level of play most Auburn fans hope to return to under Malzahn's guidance. From where the Tigers finished in 2012, it would require his 2013 team to improve at least 50 percent across the board to win at least eight games and 68 percent to reach the 10-win level. This is why patience among the fan base will be essential as Malzahn begins the rebuilding and mending process.

In terms of reaching the championship level, the average national ranking in the nine major statistical categories for the Southeastern Conference champion since 2000 has been No. 20. Even the loser of the SEC Championship game since 2000 finished with an average statistical ranking of No. 24.

The winner of the BCS national championship had an average statistical ranking of No. 15 and the loser had an average ranking of No. 20. It could take Auburn a couple of seasons to go from No. 94 to a Top 25 statistical ranking and it won't likely happen this year. It has been a long time since an Auburn team rated so poorly across the board, which tends to diffuse the probability of a one-year miraculous turn-around even though the talent level is likely there for immediate improvement.

The new head coach has focused on player development through the strength and conditioning since taking over the program in December. Also, emphasis on offensive and defensive line play appears to be a top priority for the new coaching staff.

Regardless of schemes and talent at the "skill" positions, the foundation for success is almost always found within the trenches. There are indeed more championship seasons ahead for the Tigers, but the numbers from 2012 should be a strong reminder the Tigers' path to the top is not a short one.

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