Tigers: We want to prove people wrongPublished 8:00am Saturday, July 23, 2011
HOOVER — Last year Auburn players walked out of Southeastern Conference Media Days knowing media covering the league picked the Tigers to finish in the bottom half of the SEC West Division.
The Tigers went undefeated and won a national championship. After loosing eight starters on both offense and defense from the championship team, the media picked Auburn to finish fifth in the division this year.
Auburn players at Media Days said they know the challenges of losing the players, but Auburn will still excel on the field.
“It’s personnel and personnel changes, but (offensive coordinator Gus) Malzahn’s offense doesn’t change,” said wide receiver Emory Blake. “We have a different quarterback, different line, but the same results.”
Tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen agreed.
“Auburn is Auburn. One person doesn’t make the team,” Lutzenkirchen said. “Players graduate or leave, but tradition doesn’t.”
The Tigers are going to need that tradition to shine through in 2011. Auburn is overhauling the offense, losing four members of the offensive line, three starting receivers, and Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Cam Newton.
With those limitations on offense and a depleted defense, the Tigers’ doubters are eager to see Auburn fall flat one year after winning a national title.
Defensive tackle Nosa Eguae, the only returning starter on the defensive line, said the team is working on the small things that will make the season a success. The low preseason rankings do not concern him, because it is the preseason.
“I think a lot of people in the media, they get misconstrued that being young is a lack of talent, and it’s not at Auburn,” Eguae said. “We have a lot of talent, and come Sept. 3, were looking to show that talent off on a stage.”
The Tigers open the season against Utah State before starting the SEC schedule against Mississippi State the following week. Many media members think the schedule contributed to Auburn’s success last season with many of the Tigers’ toughest games at home. The schedule will not be as kind to Auburn this season with road trips to South Carolina, Arkansas, LSU and Georgia.
Lutzenkirchen said it does not bother him that people think the Tigers will have a bad season.
“(The off-season workouts) are good like last year. People are underestimating us. It’s where we want to be,” Lutzenkirchen said. “I would rather prove people wrong than prove them right.”