Season Recap

Posted by Jared Baker | 4:11 AM | 0 comments »

Gene Chizik's first regular season as a head coach of Auburn is complete. Chizik, who was hired last year after coaching at Iowa State the past 2 years, came back to a team where he coached the defense and secondary from 2002-04. The 2004 team that went undefeated allowed 11 points a game under Chizik's scheme.

The team started off strong with a 5-0 start including a 26-22 victory at Tennessee. Then the struggles started for the Tigers with 3 straight losses to Arkansas, Kentucky and LSU. They re-grouped and finished the season 2-2 and losing a heart breaker in the Iron Bowl to Alabama 26-21. The team finished 7-5 and received a bowl berth to the Outback Bowl on January 1st against Big-Ten foe Northwestern.

Taking a look back at the season decided to give out end of the year observations:

Offensive MVP: Ben Tate. The senior running back finished the season with 1,254 yards rushing and 8 TDs on the ground. He nearly doubled his rushing yards this year from his junior year and finished the regular season with six 100 yard games and a career high 184 in a losing effort to Arkansas. Tate seemed to excel well in Gus Malzahn's hectic offense. Malzahn's offensive philosophy was no-huddle but was simply a power offense in the shotgun. The senior was the featured running back and with the struggles at times with quarterbacks Chris Todd and Kodi Burns, Tate really carried the load in many games for the Tigers. We at decided he was deserving of the offensive MVP this year.

Defensive MVP: Josh Bynes. The 6'2 junior linebacker led the Tigers with 94 tackles (55 solo) this year. The defense struggled at times, but Bynes was a steady contributor for the defense with 12 tackles (10 solo) with an interception in a win against West Virginia and 10 tackles in a losing effort against No. 1 Alabama in the Iron Bowl. Bynes really seemed to excel under Chizik's defensive scheme with increasing his total tackles by 41 this year. With Josh being a steady on defense for the whole year we at really thought he deserved the defensive MVP. We look forward to a big year from Mr. Bynes next year.

Biggest Surprise: Winning at Tennessee 26-22. The win over Tennessee in a hostile environment was a pleasant surprise for the Tigers this year. Jumping out to leads of 13-0 and 23-6 showed the Tigers could win on the road and in the end hung on to move to 5-0 and put them into Associated Press top 25 at No. 17 after the big road win.

Biggest Disappointment: Losing at home to Kentucky 21-14. Coming off a loss on the road to a tough Arkansas team 44-23, the Tigers didn't come out strong at all against the Wildcats. The offense wasn't in sync, but the defense kept the Tigers in the game in the 1st half taking a 14-7 lead to halftime those 14 points would be the only ones Auburn would score all game. The 14 unanswered points in the 4th quarter were enough for Kentucky to beat Auburn. This game was a let down and if they could pulled it out we're looking at Auburn sitting 6-1 going into the biggest game of the year to that point at No. 9 LSU.

The season had many ups and downs for the Tigers this year, we hope the season will go out with a win on January 1st, 2010 at Raymond James Stadium down in Tampa, Fl against the University of Northwestern.