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Veteran Competition

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There should be no doubt the 2010 Auburn Tigers were a talented team or they never would have worked their way to Glendale, Arizona for the BCS National Title Game. Added to Auburn’s talent level was their backbone of experience, especially at the critical positions. This more than any other attribute was the heart of the 2010 Auburn Tigers, which carried them through 6 games decided by 7-points or less.

Before Auburn played their opening game of the 2010 season, they already possessed 27 players with 20-games of experience under their belts. This included 13 players with 30-games of experience. Along with this veteran roster were 15 prior freshmen that appeared in at least 10 games during the 2009 season. This core of 42 players with talent and experience made for a very successful formula.

With this in mind, here is how Auburn’s 2011 schedule breaks down in terms of the veterans available to each opponent.

Team ………. 20-gms … 30-gms … Fr-10 … Total

Georgia ……. 31 ……… 12 ……… 7 ……... 38

Clemson …… 30 ……… 13 ……… 8 …….. 38

Arkansas …... 29 ……… 12 ……… 9 ……… 38

S. Carolina … 29 ……… 10 ……… 5 ……… 34

LSU ……..….. 24 ……… 10 ……… 14 …….. 38

The above 5 teams fall under my “20-10” experience level, which could payoff big for the above teams. That’s 20 players with at least 20-gms of experience, including at least 10 with 30-games of experience. The road games against Clemson and South Carolina could be extremely difficult as Auburn faces both teams early in the year and both opponents will have a solid core of veteran players. Keep in mind, Auburn has reached the “20-10” level 4 times in the last 7 years, compiling an overall record of 45-7 and 14-1 in games decided by 7-points or less. Excluding Auburn’s cupcake opponents, here is the remaining breakdown of Auburn’s opponents…

Team ………. 20-gms … 30-gms … Fr-10 … Total

Miss State ….. 22 ……… 7 ……….. 8 ……… 30

Florida ……… 20 ……... 8 ……….. 19 …….. 39

Alabama ……. 19 ……... 8 ……….. 13 …….. 32

Auburn ……… 18 …….. 3 ……….. 9 ……… 27

Ole Miss ……. 15 ……... 5 ……….. 6 ……… 21

As you can see, Auburn is nowhere close to the experience level they possessed in 2010, which will likely factor into their close games in 2011. Though Florida and Alabama fell short of the “20-10” mark, they were very close. They also had a high number of freshmen that played in 2010, which will add additional experience to their core roster in 2011.

Check out the core of experienced players from some of the better teams this past decade.

Team …………..…. 20-gms … 30-gms … Fr-10 … Total

Alabama (09) ……… 30 ……… 16 …….. 7 ……… 37

Auburn (04) ……….. 29 ……… 10 …….. 11 …….. 40

Florida (06) ………... 28 ……… 18 …….. 4 ……… 32

Auburn (10) ……….. 27 ……… 13 …….. 15 …….. 42

Texas (05) …………. 23 ……… 12 …….. 6 ……… 29

USC (04) …………... 23 ……… 8 ……… 7 ……… 30

USC (05) …………... 23 ……… 7 ……… 15 …….. 38

Florida (08) ………... 22 ……… 5 ……… 10 …….. 32

Oklahoma (04) …….. 20 ……… 10 …….. 5 ………. 25

LSU (07) …………… 18 ……… 5 ……… 15 …….. 33

The 2007 LSU team did not have a solid core of veteran players (18) but they did rely heavily upon 15 players that saw significant action as true freshmen in 2006. Don’t forget that LSU also lost 2 games in 2007, which were close games and to unranked opponents. They were fortunate to back into the BCS National Title game that year.

The 2009 Alabama team had a very good core of veteran players (30) in 2009, which enabled them to work through several close games that could have easily derailed their championship season. In 2010, their core of veteran players dropped to just 21, including only 6 players with 30-games of experience. Even though the 2010 Crimson Tide was actually more talented on paper than the 2009 roster, the loss of several key veterans hurt their leadership. They ended up 1-2 in games decided by 7-points or less.

Teams like Auburn, Florida, Alabama, Georgia and LSU have recruited well over the past 3 years, which magnifies the importance of having a good core of veteran players on the roster to offset the equality in talent. Auburn will be indeed be youthful in 2011 but should be in the “20-10” range in 2012.

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