Tuscaloosa, Ala.—Even after a 49-0 loss to Alabama that could have been much worse, the talk after the game wasn’t on the Iron Bowl itself, but the future of Auburn coach Gene Chizik. Limping home to a 3-9 final record and going 0-8 in SEC play for the first time in school history, the Tigers’ performance on Saturday was a fitting end to a very forgettable season on the Plains.
Penalties, offensive mistakes, and missed tackles again haunted a team that has been saying for weeks that execution has been the problem on both sides of the ball. Watching as team after team the final month pounded the Tigers into submission, it’s hard to say that the problems lie strictly with the players and the way they’re executing things.
Allowing 150 points in losses to Texas A&M, Georgia, and Alabama, Auburn’s defense has been beyond bad and has consistently gotten worse as the season has progressed. While the players shoulder some of that blame, there’s no question that the coaching done on defense was subpar. That shows in game planning alone.
In the first half of those same three SEC games, Auburn has been outscored 112-7 by the opposition. That shows a lack of preparation and execution on both sides of the ball and that starts at the top.
The offense isn’t without blame as well as the Tigers were shut out in consecutive SEC games for the first time since the 1950 team was shut out in three consecutive weeks by Georgia Tech, Tulane and Mississippi State. That team was blanked seven times that season and was easily the worst team of the Post World War II era, until 2012. Now it has a challenger.
With the exception of Tre Mason’s 82 yards that pushed him to 1,002 yards for the season, Auburn’s offense struggled against anyone that played physical with them up front. Starting with the offensive line and at the quarterback position, the offense floundered for much of the season. Even with a gutsy performance by freshman Jonathan Wallace at the end of the season, the position is one that needs a world of improvement before next season if the offense wants to take steps forward.
Auburn University President Jay Gougue is now in charge of deciding Chizik’s fate and the future direction of the Tigers’ program. Even though Chizik is a coach that led Auburn to its first national championship in over 50 years and one that has done some good things in his time on the Plains, this season is one that Auburn fans and alumni don’t expect and won’t accept out of a program that has consistently been one of the best in the country for so long.
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