Thursday, November 15, 2007

Mmmm, long-term fear

So the 2008 schedule is out. I wish it had stayed in.

Auburn's 2008 slate: the Ninja Gaiden of college football schedules, though maybe not the Battletoads of college football schedules.

Seriously, this thing already smells to high heaven of venom and malevolence and we're 10 months from it kicking off. Breaking in a new QB? Replacing a couple of key starters on defense? Young team whose confidence could be shaken by a second straight rocky opening month?

Sorry Auburn, application for clemency denied. Instead, try following up your opening-week cupcake with a four-week stretch featuring a road game against a legit national title contender with a history of tearing SEC teams to rubble; a second road game against plucky opportunists sandwiched between mega-tilts that couldn't scream "TRAP!" any louder if we gave it a bullhorn; Louisiana freaking State, just the potential defending SEC and national champions; and then, just for giggles, Tennessee. If UT pulls an upset over LSU in the SEC title game, you're looking at three BCS bowl teams in four games. Hooray.

But wait, there's more! After that four-game stretch Auburn gets to take it "easy" by traveling to Vanderbilt, same place a few weeks back the SEC's current clearcut second best team won solely by the favor of the Vandy-despising football gods; hosting Arkansas, which has gone so well for Auburn in the past several years; and wrap up a eight-games-in-eight-weeks with a Southern Miss team with a history of big upsets that will be playing their biggest game of the year just as Auburn feels their biggest games are either behind them or weeks ahead. Again: hooray. At least after that Aubur nwill finally get an open date so they can prepare for their big showdown with ... Ole Miss.

The best-case scenario for Auburn from here looks like a 7-1 start (with a split of the WVU and LSU games and pure lucky survival thereafter), but 2-6 is every bit as possible. This is a murderous slate of games and at least with this season's road gauntlet, there were gaps to rest, recover, repair the holes in the gameplan ... but in 2008, if Auburn suffers through another 2006-style, Rocky-esque slugfest against LSU, the Vols aren't the types to allow for much room for recuperation. There's no New Mexico St. to let Auburn reattach the wheels if they fly off again next year.

There's some good news, of course. The open date the week before the Iron Bowl is still appreciated. Teeth-gnashing aside, Auburn should still be favored for five straight games between UT and UGA and could build up some momentum there. And most importantly this schedule shouldn't be as difficult next year as it would have been this season: I have very little doubt LSU will be working with a new coach, Tennessee won't have Ainge and doesn't have much else even now, God alone knows what's going to happen at Arkansas between now and then and even He told reporters this week he was only "reasonably confident" on the Hogs' future, Miss. St.'s alleged resurgence is built on, well, the sound decision-making of Brandon Cox and John Parker Wilson rather than sustainable down-to-down factors, and even Southern Miss hasn't been their usual giant-slaying selves this season. (West Virginia? Can't help you there.)

So maybe it's not as bad as it looks. We can only hope, 'cause from here it looks pretty gosh-darned bad, and that's before taking Auburn's potentially very, very interesting off-season into account. (Speaking of which, more on that probably late this evening.)


KennyBanya said...

I don't think its too bad. Anytime you have La-Monroe, Tennessee Martin (who?), and Southern Miss its not all that bad. If we are scared to play Southern Miss then we don't need to be concerned about having a good season anyways.

UT should be down with Ainge gone, LSU is at home with Arkansas and UGA so that's as good as we can get there.

With a new QB, 8-4 seems realistic to me and 9-3 would be very good season.

Acid Reign said...

    Personally, I'd like to see the head coach, and the whole staff stay. With a new staff, and transition, I think we might be lucky to get into a bowl.

    Honestly, I think Al Borges can get Kodi Burns ready. Yeah, I think most of us agree that Kodi was a head-case against Tennessee Tech, but... Al got Cade McNown into Heisman discussion, for Heaven's sake! And we saw what McNown did in the NFL. He was the Rex Grossman of his era...

    Furthermore, if we get Chris Slaughter and Tim Hawthorne ready, we'll have some deep threat, big body receivers with speed. Should that happen, Rod Smith and Montez Billngs will thrive underneath. Lester, Tate, Fannin and Davis. A year older, and a year stronger. We lose only King Dunlap and Cole Bennett as blockers. The freshmen will have a year under Yox and a spring camp under their belts. Me, I think that's all a pretty solid supporting cast for the new QB, who'll likely have seen a few SEC snaps...

    Josh Thompson and Quentin Groves will be significant losses, as will Pat Lee. I think we have talent to replace most of this, AND, these young guys tossed into the melee this year will be better. A full year of Junior Tray Blackmon. We won't be half bad, on defense, if we can find a cover corner to go opposite Jeraud Powers. Walter McFadden, Lorenzo Ferguson?

    The most of the kicking game returns. Holder Mathew Motley is the most significant loss. I think we'll be a LOT better covering. I'd LOVE it, if they'd rescind the 30 yard-like kickoff. If they don't, some analysis of what the more successful teams did, is in order.

    Frankly, I like what we might enter next season with. I was worried last winter, about this year. Should we weather this storm and keep our staff, I think we're looking up again!

jrsuicide said...

ear muffs. FUCK!!! that schedule is best described as a sonofabitch. White and Slaton back for their senior seasons and ready to tear a giant sized hole in Auburn. this season has been tough, next season might be the one that pushes me over the edge and back to less stressful hobbies like base jumping and high stakes poker.

Adam said...

blake field will be the starting QB next year. caudle and burns will compete for #2.

lets not be so pessimistic about next year. auburn returns a plethora of talent on both sides of the ball. lets not forget enrique davis, who will be here in january, and the top O-line in prep school (at the same school as enrique) coming in here too.

the biggest improvement to the team will be blake field at QB. stretching the field will be nice for a change. groves has been outplayed by san-derrick marks and antonio coleman, both future NFL guys. the defense will be nothing but better. brock's heir is just a fantastic player.

my prediction: au will be in the running for the SEC over the next three years, and even perhaps, the big dance. the winner of the west will be between AU and UA, as it should be.

war eagle

Anonymous said...

Would love to feel sorry for you, but check out UGA's schedule next year (sorry, new puter, having hard time with hyperlink). Will likely be our best team in school history, but I dont see any way we dont lose two games.

Tonight, I am just glad we don't play La-Monroe.