You can’t point to one individual as the reason for Auburn’s struggles because football is truly a team sport. Obviously, the quarterback has the most critical role because he handles the ball on every snap, and there is no doubt that Jeremy Johnson has struggled.
It had gotten to the point where I think Gus Malzahn had no other choice and needed to make a change and give Sean White a chance to play the position, even though the redshirt freshman has never taken a snap in a college football game.
Regardless of how that turns out, from a coaching perspective I believe the move is the right thing to do for the team. Everything Sean White has shown so far is positive, but I think we will just have to wait and see how he does. I was certainly expecting Jeremy Johnson to play well this season and that hasn’t happened.
Regardless of the play at quarterback, the bottom line this week vs. Mississippi State is that the Tigers need to do a better job of playing football at the line of scrimmage on both offense and defense.
Right now this Auburn team is not playing with any kind of confidence. Offensively, there isn’t a go-to guy throwing, running or catching the football. Gus Malzahn has proven over the years that he can put together an offensive group that is difficult to stop. I think there is enough talent to be that type of team on offense and it is just a matter of fixing the breakdowns and improving the overall execution. If the Tigers can do that they will be a lot more dangerous when they have the football.
Defensively, I think the struggles are a combination of youth at some positions along with a lack of talent and depth at others. I believe the Tigers have a chance to develop into a decent defensive group, but there is work to do to make that happen and that starts with developing on-the-field leadership with the players showing a real hunger to get better. What we have seen starting with the second half of the Louisville game isn’t good enough to get the job vs. SEC teams and that is certainly the case for Saturday’s home game vs. Mississippi State.
I have known Will Muschamp a long time and know what type of person and coach he is. I am certain he and his staff are doing everything they can to get their players performing at a higher level. This is an important week of practice for the defense to get its problems fixed, just like the offense is trying to do.
Just as important as fixing the alignment and assignment issues is putting a team on the field that will fight and claw for every yard on every play. I know all Auburn people love to see their team win and I am certainly one of them. What I would really like to see on Saturday night is the players going out there and fighting hard for 60 minutes and let the chips fall where they may. If we see that the Tigers are going to have a chance.
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