Auburn feeling confident after slow start to season
After a sluggish start in September, which included a near upset to FCS-opponent Jacksonville State, the Auburn Tigers are ready to put that rough beginning behind them.
“We think our best football is ahead of us,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said on the SEC teleconference Wednesday. “We’re starting to kind of settle in on our personnel and plan we’ve got moving forward.”
Auburn started the season as the No. 6 team in the country. The Tigers won their first two games, but there were early hints that this team may not live up to high preseason expectations.
Auburn quarterback Jeremy Johnson threw six interceptions through three games, and the defense was ranked at the bottom of the SEC after a 45-21 loss to LSU in Week 3. The Tigers were 2-1, but it was clear that changes needed to be made.
Malzahn made the move to bench Johnson in favor of redshirt freshman Sean White. Defensive coordinator Will Muschamp switched up the defensive personnel. Auburn lost to Mississippi State in Week 4, but since then the team has won two games in a row.
“Since we got to October I have sensed a difference in our team,” Malzahn said. “I can tell the guys have more confidence.”
The rocky beginning has Auburn in a difficult spot in terms of winning the SEC. As it stands, the Tigers are tied with Arkansas for last in the SEC West. The Tigers would likely have to win the remainder of their conference games and have chaos ensue at the top of the division to get back into the race.
Auburn will play four consecutive conference games starting on Saturday before a matchup with Idaho on Nov. 21. Then the Tigers finish with the Iron Bowl against Alabama on Nov. 28. The opportunity is there for Auburn to change the complexion of its season.
“We’ve kind of put that month of September behind us,” Malzahn said. “We’ve got the meat of our schedule coming up starting with Arkansas.”