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June 27, 2011
Can Auburn repeat?
2010 Record: 14-0, 8-0
Q&A with Jeff Lee of AuburnSports.com
Q - Who will replace Cam Newton at quarterback?
A - "Heading into the summer, the two frontrunners to replace Cam Newton are junior Barrett Trotter and sophomore Clint Moseley, two guys the majority of SEC football fans are not familiar with, and understandably so. Neither Trotter nor Moseley has started a game at Auburn, and Trotter is the only one of the two to have attempted a pass (6-of-9 for 64 yards in 2010). Trotter and Moseley battled for the starting spot during spring, but neither was named the starter. Trotter and Moseley are the two most likely candidates to replace Newton at quarterback, but keep an eye on true freshman Kiehl Frazier. Frazier is already enrolled at Auburn and already familiar with Gus Malzahn's offense. Frazier played high school football at Shiloh Christian in Springdale, Ark. where he ran a scaled-down version of Malzahn's offense. Of the three (Trotter, Moseley and Frazier), Frazier gives Malzahn more options at the quarterback position. Frazier is more of a running threat in the option-read than Trotter and/or Moseley, but Malzahn has proven he doesn't need a dual-threat quarterback to put up big numbers on offense."
Q - Can the Auburn offense be as productive as it was in 2010?
A - "As good as Newton was in 2010, Auburn's numbers on offense were not significantly better than they were in 2009 when the Tigers set single-season records with Chris Todd at quarterback. In 2010, under the direction of Newton, the Tigers averaged 499.2 yards per game and 41.2 points. In 2009 with Todd at quarterback, Auburn averaged 431.8 yards of total offense per game and 33.3 points. The common denominator in Auburn's offensive success the past two seasons hasn't been the quarterback, but the coordinator. The Tigers may not be as productive on offense in 2011 as they were in 2010 (they not only lose Newton, but five multi-year starters along the offensive line), but with Malzahn's ability to build his scheme around his best talent (Mike Dyer), the dropoff in production may not be as big a difference as some might think."
Q - From an Auburn perspective, could the timing have been any better winning the national title a year after Alabama?
A - "The timing could not have been better regardless of what Alabama has done/won. Auburn has not claimed a national title since 1957, although going by Alabama's standards for claiming ones, the Tigers could have claimed multiple ones since then."
Q - For those outside the state of Alabama, describe how heated the Auburn-Alabama rivalry is now.
A - "The rivalry is at an all-time high, or low, depending on how you view it. It has never been, at least to my knowledge, so heated between the two fan bases. Alabama wins the national title and has a Heisman Trophy winner in 2009, and Auburn turns around and does the same in 2010. I don't think Tide fans thought that was possible and when it happened, they were looking for excuses to discard it (i.e. Cam Newton). Unfortunately for them, there is no reason to. It's tougher for Alabama fans to see Auburn have success than the other way around."
Q - Defensively, Nick Fairley was such a disrupter. Who do the Tigers have lined up to replace him, and can that person be as effective?
A - "The best candidate to be as disruptive along the defensive front is Jeffrey Whitaker. He is just a sophomore, but he has all of the intangibles that Fairley does."
Q - How difficult will replacing 18 starters be compared to previous years, and who are some names SEC fans might not know now but will once the season begins?
A - "Replacing the experience is impossible. The Tigers lose the entire defensive front and the majority of the offensive front. Not only does Auburn lose the experience, but also the leadership. On the defensive side of the ball, keep an eye on end Craig Sanders. On offense, Auburn fans are excited about receiver/returner Trovon Reed. Both are guys that have not had much, if any, experience in the SEC and are relatively unknown to non-recruiting fans. That will change by December."
Q - Prediction Time: What is in store for the Tigers in 2011?
A - "With the schedule Auburn has and the loss of starters/experience, the Tigers will likely struggle to win 10 games or more. My early prediction has Auburn going 9-3 in the regular season."