Entering the 2015 season Auburn currently has the 21st highest winning percentage over the past decade among major college football programs. During this period Auburn has produced three 10-win seasons.
Seventeen other teams from a major conference have produced more 10-win seasons than the Tigers during this time frame. Ohio State, Alabama and Oregon have at least eight 10-win seasons from 2005-2014. This is the primary reason all three programs will likely be ranked very high in most preseason polls.
Though Auburn was in the national championship picture in 2004, 2010 and 2013, the Tigers inability to win as consistently as some other teams is something Coach Gus Malzahn and his staff are trying to do something about as they head into preseason practice. The Tigers are clearly capable of putting together a banner season in 2015, but compiling multiple 10-win seasons back-to-back has eluded Auburn.
So what has prevented Auburn from compiling back-to-back 10-win seasons since 1988 and 1989? The most likely answer is talent and competing in the SEC, the most competitive conference in the country. In the past Auburn has relied on experienced rosters to pave the way to a very successful season. The 2004, 2010 and 2013 Auburn Tigers were loaded with experience.
In recent years teams like Alabama, LSU and Georgia have been able to overcome a loss of a large number of starters and experience by relying upon their talent pool. If Auburn produces a 10-win season in 2015 it will be based on its current talent pool more so than level of experience.
The Tigers will enter the 2015 season with the fewest number of players with 20 games of college experience of any team in the Southeastern Conference. In the past this would likely result in a 4-5 loss season because of the lack of experience. Of Auburn's current scholarship players, 57.5 percent were rated as 4-5 star talent by Scout.com. This is perhaps the most talented overall roster, in terms or recruiting stars, Auburn has ever fielded to start a season.
From 2004-2014 the Tigers are 67-12 during the six seasons when the roster includes at least 20 players with 20 games of experience, including at least 10 with 30 games of experience. This includes a record of 22-4 in games decided by seven points or less.
During the five seasons without this level of experience, Auburn compiled a record of 33-30, including 12-13 in games decided by seven points or less. This illustrates how dependent previous Auburn teams were when it came to putting proven experience on the field to compete for championships. The 2015 Auburn Tigers won’t possess this luxury and will lean more so on talent.
Breaking down the scholarship roster, Auburn's average star rating on offense this season will be 3.68 on the defensive side of the football. Examining the projected 22-player depth chart on offense and defense, the defense is in far better shape when it comes to game experience. The two-deep on defense produces an average star rating of 3.8, 17.6 games of experience and an average of 7.2 starts.
Experienced players like junior receiver Marcus Davis will be counted on to lead the offense.
The two-deep on the offensive side generates an average star rating of 3.8, 12.0 games of experience and 4.1 starts per player
Of the 44 players found on the two-deep depth chart, Auburn will have 14 players with 20 games of experience. It will be instrumental for those 14 Tigers to become leaders for the younger players on the roster.
“We have some young guys that are extremely talented,” Malzahn points out. “We are going to be relying on those old guys to bring those young guys along so that is going to be a big key to our season, especially getting off to a good start. With the inexperience we have, and if you look at our schedule, especially starting out the season, we are going to have to play well, and we are probably going to have to win some close games to have that chance of winning the championship in our league.”
The Tigers get into league play in game three in what should be a challenging road trip to LSU.
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