This time last year Auburn was at a crossroads. People were talking about whether we needed to change coaches—something Jay Jacobs has never been afraid to do.
After a second straight year of letdown, the 2016 Tigers were an unknown entity. The 2014 Tigers got off to a hot start, but could never match 2013 without Greg Robinson, Tre Mason and Carl Lawson. In 2015, Auburn and Jeremy Johnson peaked in the off season.
Auburn’s 2016 began with a question mark. Five different players took snaps against eventual playoff champion Clemson. It’s hard to imagine Auburn losing that game if Sean White took every snap start to finish. The Texas A&M game continued to be the enigma of the road team winning. They weren’t the better team, but they were good enough in the second and third quarters to get the win.
When Les Miles and LSU came to Jordan-Hare, Daniel Carlson and the clock bailed Gus Malzahn out of hot water. It was Miles’ last game. Without Carlson, it could’ve meant Malzahn’s last season.
— Jeff Shearer (@jeff_shearer) September 26, 2016
But, Gus used the win to rally his troops, and topped out by beating the brakes off Dan Mullen’s Bulldogs and Bret Bielema’s Razorbacks. The Tigers ran on both opponents like it was 2013 all over again. But we all know the wheels fell off in the 2nd half against Derek Mason and Vanderbilt. What seemed to be turning into a well oiled machine imploded when Kamryn Pettway suffered an injury against Vanderbilt.
Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason on outlawing leaping field goal blocks: "Zach (Cunningham) made it illegal. That's nice."
— Josh Vitale (@AUBlog) July 11, 2017
There is no need to recap the fall from that roof top. We all know what happened as Malzahn and company looked more lost than week one against Clemson. Last year Malzahn’s chair was almost as hot as it could get. There isn’t the hype of 2015 coming into 2017. And Malzahn bought himself some time with transfer Jarrett Stidham.
But don’t get confused by the lack of hype if the Tigers stumble in Clemson or Baton Rouge the naysayers will be loud and clear. Malzhan must win in 2017. The excuses are gone. Most quarterbacks put up video game numbers under Art Briles. Auburn can survive losing to Clemson. That wouldn’t take any of Auburn’s 2017 goals off the table. But, if Malzahn continues the Auburn trend of getting shutout in Baton Rouge, he’ll have to do something he’s never done as Auburn’s head coach—finish on a winning streak.
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