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Auburn Tigers 2008 College Football Team Preview

Jul 9, 2008
Head coach Tommy Tuberville has a new offensive coordinator, Tony Franklin. Franklin has implemented a spread offense, which should provide much excitement for the Tigers faithful. Whom the starting quarterback will be remains a question. Sophomore Kodi Burns and junior college transfer Chris Todd were still vying for the starting job after the team's spring practice ended. Burns' improved as a passer this spring and his dual-threat ability as a runner makes him the likely choice. But don't count out Todd, who has a better understanding of the spread offense. Todd signed with pass-crazy Texas Tech before opting for junior college after two seasons.

Burns was the backup quarterback last season. Franklin took over the offense in December and gave Burns a chance to play in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Burns ended up throwing a touchdown pass and running for the winning touchdown in overtime.

The running game will be a group effort led by Ben Tate. Tate rushed for 903 yards and eight touchdowns last season. Senior Brad Lester will also get some carries. The speedy Lester rushed for 530 yards and three touchdowns last season. Mario Fannin and Tristan Davis also figure to see some carries.

The receiving corps will be led by former walk-on Rod Smith. Smith caught 52 passes for 705 yards last season. Seniors James Swinton and Robert Dunn also figure to start, but many receivers will see action in this offense.

Auburn should field one of the SEC's best offensive lines. Seniors Tyronne Green (guard) and Jason Bosley (center) will be joined by sophomores Ryan Pugh, Chaz Ramsey and Lee Ziemba. All three sophomores started last season, including that big win in "The Swamp" against Florida.

Will Muschamp left for Texas, so Paul Rhoads will take over as defensive coordinator. Sen'Derrick Marks moves from end to tackle. Marks had 43 tackles last season. End Antonio Coleman had 18 tackles for a loss last season and figures to be the leading sack artist.

Linebacker Tray Blackmon is back for his junior season. Blackmon missed four games and played on a bad ankle last season, but still managed to record 45 tackles. Outside linebackers Craig Stevens and Chris Evans also return.

Rhoads has already left his mark on this defense, moving Aairon Savage from safety to cornerback during spring. Strong safety Zac Etheridge is the leading returning tackler from last season's squad.

Wes Bynum will once again handle the kicking duties. Bynum nailed 17 field goals as a true freshman last season, including the last-second game-winner at Florida. Punter Ryan Shoemaker also returns. Shoemaker averaged 42.4 yards per punt last season.

Auburn's offensive struggles last season prompted Tuberville to go with Franklin and his spread attack. If the team can learn and execute this offense, the Tigers figure to have a lethal offense to go with a stingy defense. Auburn should end up with a Top-10 ranking and a BCS bowl game. An October road game at West Virginia could play a big part in any national title aspirations.
About the Author
Dwayne Bryant is the owner of Bullseye Sports Handicapping Service. Dwayne has been one of the best sports handicappers for over 20 years. Dwayne gives a daily free sports pick, including an NCAA football pick every Saturday during the season.
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