the following are a list of the 10 players i think will have the biggest impact on Auburn's season this year and can help the Tigers get back to Atlanta and beyond.
1. Whoever the Fuck the QB Is- Kodi Burns and Chris Todd are currently locked in a head to head battle to become the next starting QB for the Auburn Tigers. Burns is an athletic QB whose built more like a tailback and adds the element of running to the offensive attack. Todd is a junior college transfer who spent time at Texas Tech and is the more pure passer. Todd has a lot more experience in Tony Franklin's spread having learned the system in highschool. likely both QBs will play a lot this season, who the actual starter will be is a mystery. i expect the sort of Leak/Tebow and Flynn/Perrilloux system that Floria and LSU used the past two seasons...hopefully to equal success.
2. Sen'Derrick Marks- the talented defensive tackle/end moves to the middle full time this season. he's a likely top 10 draft pick and an All-American canidate. he'll anchor Auburn's hyper aggressive front seven and could serve as the sort of play maker for Auburn that Glenn Dorsey was for LSU. hopefully LSU doesn't chop block him in a quest for revenge.
3. Tray Blackmon- the former 5 star linebacker is entering his junior season. in his first two years he's dealt with suspensions and injuries that have kept him from reaching his full potential. he's unbelievably talented and the coaches are hoping he finally has the break out year that Auburn fans have been expecting since the team first landed him in 2005. Blackmon could be an All American candidate and could possibly raise his draft stock to a first round pick if he has a great year and the Tigers are title contenders.
4. Brad Lester- it seems like Brad Lester has been around forever. the fifth year senior is entering his final season on the Plains. he's been slowed by injuries and suspensions his entire career (i see a pattern among the uber talented Auburn players on the team) but when he's been on the field he's showed himself to be one of the best runningbacks in the SEC. to be honest i always thought Brad was better than Kenny Irons when he was backing up the former Tiger. Lester lost his starting job to Ben Tate and missed the first 7 games of the year last season because of academic reasons. Auburn of course lost 2 of those games to South Florida and Mississippi State. i have to believe that with Lester able to play in those games there's no way Auburn would have been beaten. in the final 5 games of the year he had 530 yards rushing with 4.2 yards per while splitting carries with Tate and Mario Fannin. The spread is tailor made for a back like Brad. it's made stars out of players like Steve Slaton who don't have a lot of size. like Slaton, Lester is smaller and fast and catches the ball well out of the backfield and he can break tackles. although Ben Tate is getting all the preseason notice, i expect Brad to be the real threat coming out of backfield.
5. Mario Fannin- no player is more explosive on this Tiger offense than Fannin. he's making a switch this season from runningback to slot receiver, but really he expects to see action all over the field with time spent at wide out, in the slot, in the backfield, returning kicks and punts, and also playing QB in special situations (like the Wildhawg formation that Darren McFadden made famous at Arkansas). the coaches expect big things out of this kid and they want to get the ball to him as much as possible. he could end up being the MVP if he's able to deliver.
6. Antonio Coleman- the junior defensive end looks to carry on the recent tradition of dreadlocked pass rushing monsters that have been the cornerstone of the Tiger D. he had 8.5 sacks while playing in relief of injured star Quentin Groves last year.
7. Jerraud Powers- Powers is the another in the line of Auburn cornerbacks that will be playing in the NFL. he's the most experienced defensive back on the team and was the Auburn Zeke Smith Award winner last season for the top defensive player. the defensive backfield is the thinnest position for the Tigers this season and Powers will be expected to step up and be a leader, especially with two sophomores playing safety.
8. Lee Ziemba- a total manbeast. Ziemba is making the switch from right to left tackle and will anchor a very young, but very talented, Auburn offensive line. he's quick and has good size and it's his job to protect the QB. if he can play like the future 1st round pick that he's sure to be and give those QBs time to make the new spread offense go then it could be a big year. hopefully the days of Brandon Cox being knocked around like a ragdoll are over for the new signal callers.
9. Tim Hawthorne- receiver is an important position for this team this year. Hawthorne was a highly rated recruit and he's yet to really show us anything. with an inexpierenced receiving corp this year, someone is gonna have to step up and become a playmaker. i think Hawthorne is gonna be that guy.
10. Wes Byrum- no kicker was more valuable to his team last season than the true freshman Byrum was. the kid had game winning kicks against Florida and Arkansas and is already a legend for it(especially the Florida game). he may be called upon again to win some more games this season and it's good to know he's got ice water in those veins.
5 more players who i expect big things from
1. Michael McNeil- So. Safety
2. Ben Tate- Jr. Runningback
3. Robert Dunn- Sr. Wide Reciever/Returner
4. Ryan Pugh- So. Right Tackle
5. Michael Goggans- So. Defensive End