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Auburn panel: Utah State week

Is it cause for concern that no quarterback separated themselves from the pack in the open competition through most of the summer?

Bill Meador: If all three QB’s are quality players, then I don’t foresee a problem unless the rest of the offense is struggling while waiting for the leader to emerge. I believe in the coaches that are evaluating the situation to select the best one. I think the competition will make them all better in the long run.

Jonathan Jenkins: Replacing Newton in 2011 is no different than replacing Sullivan was in 1972. Will it be important by year’s end? Without Super Sully, Auburn was expected to finish no higher than eighth in the SEC in 1972. Yet, after a dramatic Iron Bowl finish and a Gator Bowl win, Auburn finished #5 in the nation. Who was the ’72 qb? Randy Walls passed for only 736 yards in route to a 10-1 record. Why hasn’t anyone step forward in a big way? Probably because everyone is still expecting the 2010 excitement. Being in the shadow of a predecessor is difficult for anyone (just ask Walls), yet Malzhan has said that Trotter knows the playbook as well as Gus does himself; now that is quite a compliment. If Trotter lives up to Gus’s expectations, that will be better than most expect.

Rick Dunn: I honestly believe that this situation is a good sign. I believe that Moseley is the better athlete and it is reported that he is very committed and has leadership skills. If the coaching staff chose Trotter, it could only be because he was a better “total package”. I’m guessing that he understands/runs the offense better. Keep in mind, the back-up is just one play away from being a starter. Thus, the fact that it was a hard decision would indicate that Moseley is a good “Plan B”.

How do you expect Auburn’s offensive strategy to change this year from last year?

Bill Meador: I look for the offense to be very close to the same style as AU ran last year. Trotter is not as athletically gifted as Newton, but can still run well. He may be a better passer technically than Newton though. AU has some very talented play makers, but not a lot of experience. It should be the quarterback that is the leader, but we will see.

Jonathan Jenkins: Instead of Superman, we will be watching the Dynamic Duo: McCalebb and Dyer. They combined for 1850 yards rushing last year with less than half the rushing attempts on the team. Looking at the 2011 season, they should combine for nearly 80% of this years rushing attempts.

Honestly, I’ve always been partial to Batman and Robin because they work hard night and day to make the world a better place.

Rick Dunn: I think we will see the true Malzahn offense this year. Once they understood what Cam brought to the table, they adjusted a bit to take advantage of his skills. I expect that the offense will have a very good year, as a team. I do not see any one player becoming the “Bell Cow”. The biggest question mark at this point is the offensive line. If they perform at, say, 85% of the effectiveness as last year’s, and the QB runs the offense well, we may approach last year’s out-put. A good Coach adjusts to his talent. We did that year. If you are wondering what we will see this year, you might want to watch some Tulsa, 2008 footage.

Do you agree with the ranking and where would you put the Tigers if you were a voter?

Bill Meador: The Tigers from the Plains have a ton of talent, but almost half the team is made up of true or red shirt freshmen. They will have growing pains, however, if they start fast they could influence who wins the west. I think Auburn’s ranking is high with all the unknowns. Because their schedule is extremely brutal with so many tough road games, it will be hard to achieve the preseason ranking.

Jonathan Jenkins: Auburn’s ranking isn’t that surprising because it is closer to realistic expectations for the 2011 Tigers. Remember who won the 2009 national championship? Remember the 2009 runner-up team? For the 2010 season, both Alabama and Texas were unrealistically ranked too high with as much defense as the Tide had graduated and Colt McCoy’s absence from the Longhorns. It isn’t where you start that is important; it is where you finish.

Rick Dunn: I am not surprised and do not strongly disagree. Auburn has the fewest returning starters in Div. 1. There are many questions to be answered. I do not put much faith in the pre-season polls. We will have a good idea of which teams are truly strong by mid-October. If I had to say, I would rank Auburn between #10 and #15.

What do you expect from the Auburn defense, who is likely to start four sophomores on its defensive front line?

Bill Meador: It’s good the defense played a lot of players last year as they may have to be the bell cow early until the offense hits its stride. I look for the sophomores on the D line to lead the way. Lemonier, Eguae and Ford at the ends and Whitaker and Carter on the inside will be good. If the backups can provide some very needed depth the line, they should be formidable.

Jonathan Jenkins: Not just the D-Line! There are a number of positions on both sides of the ball and in the kicking game that will be occupied by sophomores. Those who were around the program last year will at least have a realistic view of work ethic and team unity. On the D-Line specifically, we will probably have to rotate a lot of bodies in the first three games before someone is discovered who is consistent under fire.

Rick Dunn: We should be much improved in some areas. My most serious concern is the loss of Fairley. He was such a disruptive force that he dictated, to some degree, the opponent’s game strategy. I think we will be at least “OK”. We have talent and they should be “coached up” pretty well. I think Coach Roof is a better coach than some give him credit for. I am a bit concerned about our secondary. Few people realize how much pressure is on those guys.

Auburn should win this game running away. What are most interested in seeing in this first game aside from a win?

Bill Meador: I’m not so sure this will be a “run away” game, but AU should win. I really look forward to seeing a number of things like how the really young players step up and play. The kicking game could be crucial for Auburn this year and both kickers are new. New DB’s and young LB backups all with oodles of speed and talent will be fun to watch. It’s a new season and I am so ready.

Jonathan Jenkins: Execution, Experience, and Enthusiasm! I expect to see sharp opening game execution of the schemes, especially since Gus says that Trotter knows the playbook. Experience comes with playing, so we need to rotate early and often. Enthusiasm has to exist because AU is coming

off a national championship and getting no respect.

Rick Dunn: I am most interested in offensive execution. If things run smoothly throughout the game, I will be very encouraged. Additionally, I would be very disappointed if we gave up more than, say, two big plays on Defense. Physically, we will have them out-matched. If they have several big plays it would indicate missed assignments.