We reviewed five preseason magazines — Athlon, ESPN, Lindy’s, Phil Steele and The Sporting News — and broke down their team-by-team predictions.
Monday, we examine Auburn. Here is what’s being said about the Tigers:
Lindy’s (4th in SEC West): “Historically, Auburn has played better when the albatross of high expectations isn’t weighing it down — and that’s the case entering 2016.”
Phil Steele (4th in SEC West — Music City Bowl): “I expect John Franklin III to win the QB job and give them that mobile QB that their offense so desperately needs … I think they will be an under-the-radar team in 2016.”
Sporting News (5th in SEC West — Belk Bowl): “With games against LSU, Ole Miss, Georgia and Alabama, it could be difficult for Malzahn to get the eight or nine wins he needs to save his job unless the quarterback play vastly improves.”
ESPN (6th in SEC West — 6.6 projected wins): “(Malzahn) enters 2016 with a potential mess at quarterback and a new coordinator in charge of a depleted D — so even a return to 10 wins looks unlikely, never mind a title shot.”
Athlon (6th in SEC West — 6-6, Music City Bowl): “Quarterback play should once again prove to be the difference this season — and should help determine whether Malzahn will see a fifth year as the coach on the Plains.”
Preseason All-American selections: Daniel Carlson (1st x2, 3rd x1), Carl Lawson (2nd x2), Braden Smith (3rd), Montravius Adams (3rd), Johnathan Ford (4th)
Preseason All-SEC selections: Daniel Carlson (1st, unanimous), Braden Smith (1st x4, 2nd x1), Carl Lawson (1st x1, 2nd x1, 3rd x1), Alex Kozan (1st x1, 2nd x1, 3rd x1), Montravius Adams (2nd x2), Johnathan Ford (2nd), Ike Powell (2nd), Carlton Davis (3rd x2), Jovon Robinson (3rd), Austin Golson (3rd x1), Nate Craig-Myers (4th x1)
- Phil Steele ranked both the Tigers special teams unit and coaching staff second-best in the SEC. He has several sets of predictions, but wrote that his “main power rankings” have Auburn “bouncing back to nine wins.”
- ESPN spoke to an anonymous coach who isn’t a big fan of Malzahn’s offensive approach: “His passing game is very vanilla. It’s not like defending other NFL-style offenses from that standpoint. So, he’s going to hang his hat on running the ball, and part of that is the QB running. When you take away that part of his offense, it really handcuffs him.”
- Athlon spoke to an anonymous coach who had high praise for the offensive line: “You watched them play Alabama, and they got movement on the interior where generally that never happened against that front. But they didn’t get some of the credit they deserved up front because they were so bad at quarterback.”
- ESPN’s Football Power Index projected Auburn’s toughest games to be at Alabama (20 percent chance of winning), vs. LSU (23 percent) and vs. Clemson (28 percent).
- Sporting News — and multiple other outlets — made mention of Auburn’s 15-11 record since reaching the national title game after the 2013 season: “Figuring out which way the winds of fortune will blow at Auburn is always a game of chance.”
- Lindy’s called the opener vs. Clemson the nation’s No. 3 non-conference game this season.
- Athlon ranked Gus Malzahn No. 4 in its “Coaches on the Hot Seat,” citing the firings of Tommy Tuberville and Gene Chizik — both national champions — as evidence of a potential boot for Malzahn, who coached the Tigers to the championship game in 2013.