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similar feeling to last year

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Auburn has 'similar feeling' to last year, but here's why it's different

Updated Oct 11, 12:09 PM; Posted Oct 11, 12:00 PM

By Tom Green

tgreen@al.com

Gus Malzahn and Auburn's three captains -- Jarrett Stidham, Deshaun Davis and Ryan Davis -- stood in front of the media Tuesday and delivered comparable messages.

All four were in sync, noting that while Auburn's 4-2 start to the season wasn't expected or even acceptable, they were confident the team would be able to turn things around during the second half of the season. They said they needed to look no further than to last season's midyear turnaround for proof that it was not only possible, but that this team had the pieces capable of righting the ship.

"Now that our backs are against the wall, it's a real similar feeling as it was last year," Malzahn said. "I'm very confident that we're going to finish this thing. Our team is in a good spot mentally for everything that we went through the first half of the season, and I think we're set up to improve each week. We've done that the last few seasons. I think we'll do that again this year."

Last year, Auburn started the season 5-2, with an early-season loss at Clemson and then disappointing road loss to LSU midway through the year. Despite that second loss, and Auburn's subsequent drop to 21st in the AP and Coaches poll, the team bounce back with five straight wins to close the regular season -- including two wins over No. 1 teams in a three-game span to win the SEC West -- and found itself squarely in the College Football Playoff discussion as the calendar turned to December.

5 things Auburn needs to do to turn season around in second half

A look at what No. 21 Auburn needs to do to get back on track and salvage the 2018 season.

While Auburn again finds itself ranked 21st following its second loss of the season, there is one crucial difference between 2018 and 2017 that separates the two teams in this comparison. Unlike last year, when Auburn's first loss came to CFP contender from the ACC and the reigning national runner-up, both of Auburn's losses this season have some in SEC play -- a one-point loss to LSU at home and then last week's 14-point loss at Mississippi State.

That dropped Auburn to 1-2 in the SEC and fifth overall in the SEC West, surpassing the team's conference losses from a year ago and greatly damaging any hopes the Tigers had of repeating as SEC West champs. For a team that opened the year with sights set on a return trip to Atlanta, the loss to the Bulldogs was devastating.

"Well, it was a long shot last year at this point, too," Malzahn said. "It was probably a really similar feeling. Obviously, we don't control our own destiny. We'll need some help, there's no doubt about that. But there's still a whole lot to play for. If we can finish like we did last year, there'll be a lot of good things ahead. There's a whole lot to play for, and our team understands that."

The Tigers' standing in the SEC has surely made their CFP hopes incredibly bleak with six games still remaining on the schedule, but they aren't counting themselves out as they prepare for the second half of the season, which begins Saturday at 11 a.m. against a struggling Tennessee. They still feel they have plenty to play for this season.

Malzahn take responsibility for Auburn's struggles this season

Gus Malzahn sounded more solemn at his weekly press conference and accepted full responsibility for his team not living up to expectations.

"For us, especially as the leaders of the team, we have to take this one game at a time," Stidham said. "Obviously, we've lost two games in the West, but there's still a lot of ball left to play this year. And we were kind of sitting in this same spot last year. A lot of people counting us out, that sort of thing. Like I said, I think I said this after the game Saturday, this team is really resilient.

"We're going to find a way to improve every week, and we're just going to take it one game at a time, one week at a time, and not get too far ahead of ourselves."

Even if that "similar feeling" is considerably different than last year's scenario, Deshaun Davis believes the Tigers can take from their experience a year ago and apply it to the second half of this season. Yes, the SEC West and CFP are longshots at this point--the Tigers have 100/1 odds to make the CFP, per Bovada -- but Auburn is confident that the 2018 season can still be salvaged.

"What I want to see from this team that saw from last year's team was, we answered the bell pretty quickly," Deshaun Davis said. "It was like, we took that second loss to LSU (in 2017), and it was just like, the next day at practice, everyone was like, 'All right, let's do it.' We can't have any more slip ups, we can't have any more mistakes, there's no more time for my bad or I'll do it next time. It's we got to do it now. There's no more times for mistakes. The team that I want to see show up is a hungry team that has each other's back. And we do. I know a lot of negativity and stuff is going around, but we're in a program like this where you're expected to win.

"We expect to win, and we're not getting that done as a team right now.... I know no one's going to fold, no one's going to tank. We're still going to be Auburn, we're still going to go out and compete, we're still going to fight, and at the end of the year, we'll see where we'll be standing."

Head to Head: Auburn vs. Tennessee

Tom Green is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Tomas_Verde.

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You have to have a competent OL and the willingness to work around tbe weaknesses to turn things around. Unlike last year, we don’t have a competent OL. As long as our blockers are getting stood up at the LOS, we will never have a good enough offense to help the defense. 

Edited by aujeff11
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Stidham's right, alot of people are counting this team out like last year. The difference is 2 divisional losses are harder to come back from now vs 10 years ago unless you're in the East. My question is why does it take a loss or two to have an epiphany to play with some hunger?

Edited by CAReeves2010
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Now that is an agenda driven article.  What the fan has seen on the field doesn’t look or feel like last year.  I hope you can pull it off Gus, we’ll be watching.

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This team is a completely different looking to last year.   Last yr, excluding Clemsom, we were going beat the 2nd tier teams as our offense was decently explosive.   Even against LSU we went out and hammered them until Gus took off the gas, trying to get out with no injuries before the Momentum swing.  

This year the O is completely inept even against the mothers of the poor.  

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Umm, AU is not in the same boat as this time last year,  2 losses in our own division is not getting this team to ATL.

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2 minutes ago, keesler said:

Umm, AU is not in the same boat as this time last year,  2 losses in our own division is not getting this team to ATL.

with 2-3 (sec) more to go.

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2 minutes ago, keesler said:

Umm, AU is not in the same boat as this time last year,  2 losses in our own division is not getting this team to ATL.

Exactly and there is no chance a two loss non-conference winner is going to the CFP either. I don’t care if we don’t make the SEC CG every year. It just the way we do it. How can any responsible coach wind up going half a season before he can even figure out where he’s going. 

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22 minutes ago, keesler said:

Umm, AU is not in the same boat as this time last year,  2 losses in our own division is not getting this team to ATL.

This . Unless the team takes a trip and drives over there to the atl thats it . 

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its different and its easy to see   progressing vs regression each game.  Saying its the same to save any hope of a potential decent season doesnt make it so.  This isnt fixed in front of a microphone. 

Edited by auskip07
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Auburn wasn’t struggling with teams it shouldn’t last year.  Last year’s team beats Miss State handily last weekend.  Same with Arkansas and Southern Miss.  I’m actually halfway nervous about tomorrow which I would never have been last year.  LSU last year was a Gus 💩 not a they were better than Auburn game.

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I have to agree with everyone. This article lacks anything substance worthy; the article is the beat writer's version of a cop issuing speeding tickets to meet a quota. 

TLDR for the article: The feeling is similar the results are not. All emotion with no plan

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Doesn't feel remotely close to last year.

At least after the LSU debacle they found themselves afterwards and maintained a semblance of cohesion and identity until the SECCG.

This offense STILL feels like the one from the SECCG & Peach Bowl.  Guess that's their "identity" now.

I hope not.  

Edited by AUsince72

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24 minutes ago, AUsince72 said:

Doesn't feel remotely close to last year.

At least after the LSU debacle they found themselves afterwards and maintained a semblance of cohesion and identity until the SECCG.

This offense STILL feels like the one from the SECCG & Peach Bowl.  Guess that's their "identity" now.

I hope not.  

Exactly - AND last year JHS provided a huge advantage for this team - with the slight exception of the Mercer game, they rocked in front of the home crowd.  We'll see what tomorrow holds, I just have doubts we'll see vast improvement in production in only 6 days.

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37 minutes ago, AUsince72 said:

Doesn't feel remotely close to last year.

Agree. We saw talent on the field last year. This year I'm struggling to see where the offensive production is going to come from. Feels more like we're limping to the finish and trying to dodge bullets. 

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2 hours ago, Auburn Kev said:

How bad would the offense be if we did not have Malzahn running things?

 

Wow . So what are you trying to say ? Lol 

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We are headed towards 5 and 7 or 6 and 6 at best. There's the difference between those two teams. Last year we curb stomped Georgia and Alabama. This year both of those teams beat us by 30 points minimum. I know I sound negative. But I truly believe this is the reality of this team.

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