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Phillip's Thursday morning musings

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Phillip's Thursday morning musings

Phillip Marshall

4-5 minutes

Late Kick: Auburn is a sleeper team heading into 2022 season

--The question on the eve of the start of preseason camp is not whether Auburn’s football team has good players. It does. The question is how Auburn’s players match up against the toughest schedule in college football. Auburn will be at a clear disadvantage at Georgia and Alabama and maybe against Texas A&M, though the Aggies still have much to prove.  The other five SEC games, plus Penn State, could go either way. Which way they go will probably decide which way the coming season goes.

--Some players you haven’t heard much about who could play significant roles in Auburn’s push to defy expectations: linebacker Cam Riley, edge Eku Leota, linebacker Eugene Asante, edge Dylan Brooks, defensive tackle Marquis Burks, defensive lineman Marcus Harris, defensive lineman Jayson Jones, defensive lineman Jeffrey M’ba, defensive lineman Marquis Robinson, linebacker Wesley Steiner, linebacker Desmond Tisdol, defensive tackle Zykeivous Walker. wide receiver Tar’varish Dawson, WR J.J. Evans. There will be others. Someone else at some point will unexpectedly rise up. It is crucial for Auburn’s success that a significant number of the players listed above either challenge for starting spots or provide quality depth.

--It’s interesting when someone, somewhere uses a new term to describe something in college football and it quickly becomes accepted. When did positions become “rooms,” as in the quarterback room? When did a first-team quarterback become “QB1?” When did being ranked No. 1 in very subjective recruiting rankings become a recruiting “national championship?” I’m not offended by any of those things. I just wonder where they started. In my newspaper days, those things would have been considered cliches and would have been taboo.

--In this age of analytics, lots of people trying to make money will say they have the secret to forecasting college football outcomes. Here’s why I disagree: No analytics can see inside a player’s heart; no analytics can say a key player or players will be injured; no analytics can say when a receiver is going to drop a crucial pass or a running back is going to fumble at the worst possible time; no analytics can say when a coach is going to make a great call or a bad call. College football is not a computer game.

--Nick Saban says the 2021 season was a rebuilding year for Alabama, despite an SEC championship and an appearance in the College Football Playoff Championship Game. Last season’s Alabama team wasn’t as dominant as many of Saban’s other teams. Actually, I can see where he is coming from. Alabama lost to a four-loss Texas A&M team. It could have lost to LSU at home. It could have and probably should have lost at Auburn and at Florida. All three of those teams finished with losing records. Saban has told friends since the end of last season that he believes this season’s team could be the best he’s had at Alabama.

--If I had to bet, I would bet on Zach Calzada beating out T.J. Finley and starting the opener at quarterback. But I wouldn’t bet much. I believe it’s a real race.

--Alabama play-by-play announcer Eli Gold, a really good guy, will miss the 2022 season because of an illness. He will be replaced by Chris Stewart, another really good guy and the longtime voice of Alabama basketball.


--It’s difficult to know what you are seeing in such a mismatch, but after one game in Israel, Auburn looks to have another very talented basketball team. That has become commonplace in the Bruce Pearl era.

--Auburn coach Bryan Harsin: “We have a lot of fighters on this team. One thing I know about Auburn: We will fight.”


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(Sorry, every time our schedule is mentioned, it becomes worth mentioning.)

With the CFP likely expanding, the SEC will likely go to 3+6. We've been getting screwed since 2014, could the playing field be leveled so we no longer have the toughest schedule in the country ever year once expansion happens even with three permas? The good news is that 16 is being discussed, a number at which 2017 and 19 teams would've easily qualified.

I think this would be a relatively fair schedule:


Edited by AUwent
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