Thursday, 22 September 2011

Florida Atlantic Preview: Will There Be Improvement?

As we enter Week 4 of the wonderful and illustrious college football season a lot of Auburn fans are frustrated with last weeks performance. They are frustrated with our lack of basic fundamentals, including alignment and most important tackling, and I am right there with them. We aren't a young team anymore, we can't continue using that as an excuse, the more experience the players get the better, because nothing breeds confidence in your play like pure, in-game Division One football experience.

Am I worried? I'd be lying If I said I wasn't. My Twitter account has been my main way of expressing my frustrations with the team, questioning the lack of basic defensive coaching as well as trying to figure out why we still can't tackle properly. Some of these players have been in the system for quite a few years, including veterans like Neiko Thorpe for example. I understand Neiko is playing a new position but ask yourself this very honest question.

Would any of our defensive players START for any other SEC team right now not named Vanderbilt? Heck, why am I even slandering the Commodores? They are 3-0 and are having their best start in quite a while.

I don't mean to come across as negative, or critical but sometimes you have to be. I am still currently behind the coaches, but when I read what they are teaching the players it just makes me scratch my head in confusion. Where is the grit? Where is the fight? I am usually a positive person and I try to be find the best out of every situation but right now, there is no bright side from being the 117th worst defense in the country. If you don't believe me click here.

Rant over, this saturday we face the powerhouse that is the Florida Atlantic Owls. They come into Auburn with the 107th worst defense, and the very worst offense in the entire country. Does that mean we will give up points? Probably, I will be disappointed if we give up more than two touchdowns to a team this bad. We will still probably rotate in and out quite a lot but if we can give up less than two touchdowns that would be a step forward, but we won't even truly know that until next saturday in Columbia.

I have no doubt we will win, but this game in particular I will be looking for improvement on defense (duh!). I understand that we won't turn into a defensive powerhouse over a week, and playing Florida Atlantic won't show that improvement very much, but we desperately need some players to step up and become leaders. I don't care if they are true freshman or seniors, but a few players need to be more vocal, get in the faces of those doing things wrong, act like on-field coaches and just stabilise the defense. That will be key if we want to see improvement on the defensive side of the ball.

It is now up to Chizik to make the necessary changes to a team that needs them. Right now, we are on pace to win maybe five, six games unless we show some improvement on defense. Our offense can't always bail out the defense, and wouldn't it be nice knowing that we have a solid defense to rely on if things aren't working offensively? Take 2007 for example, the offense was borderline average but the defense was able to win us a few games that year. I'm not asking for a dominant defense, but a competent unit that we are able to rely on if things are going smoothly on offense.

The season isn't over yet, and I won't be pulling out the gun unless we lose this weekend to FAU, which I doubt even happens (even if we were to play an all-freshman team).

My official prediction for this game will be 49-17. Until I know for sure whether the defense is improved, I think we give up around 17 points to FAU which would be an improvement over the last few weeks. We need to stand up and be counted, these players can no longer act like boys....they need to start playing like men.