At 3:30 PM Eastern Standard Time the Auburn Tigers will face the South Carolina Gamecocks in Columbia. The Gamecocks will be seeking revenge for last year as the Auburn Tigers twice beat the Fighting Lattimores. This year the roles have somewhat been reversed as it's South Carolina that comes in unbeaten and Auburn comes into William-Brice Stadium as a ten point underdog. Auburn has had it's early ups and downs this year with it's young team. Are they ready to face a challenge the likes that the Gamecocks will present? We caught up with Tom Blaz of The Recruiting Eagle to talk a little Auburn Tigers football and the upcoming game against Darth Visor and the Gamecocks of South Carolina.
This is a very young Auburn team. Which freshmen have impressed you the most so far this year?
Auburn went from arguably the most experienced team in the nation to the youngest, in one year. How did this happen? Only nine players remain from the last two recruiting classes of Tommy Tuberville. Those two classes make up what are the seniors and redshirt seniors on this year’s team.
Quarterback Kiehl Frazer has impressed me. The true freshman was the Gatorade National player of the year and led his team to three straight Arkansas state championships. Frazier is the future of this team and has been slowly been worked more into the offense by Offensive Coordinator Gus Malzahn. Frazier has the strongest arm on the team and is a powerful runner. I expect/hope to see him get his most extensive action to date Saturday in Columbia.
Freshman defensive back Robensen Therezie has been outstanding in his first month at the next level. A four star recruit from South Florida, Therezie was rated the hardest hitting safety in the nation by rivals. Auburn has been working him at cornerback and he was all over the field against Florida Atlantic.
Freshman center Reese Dismukes has held his own, replacing four year starter Ryan Pugh. Dismukes showed his maturity in the Clemson game, his first on the road, up against an All-ACC redshirt senior defensive tackle. Rated the top center nationally by ESPN, Dismukes is going to be a good one.
What do you think is the most critical area that Auburn needs to see improvement as the season goes on?
The improvements all need to come on the defensive side of the ball and Defensive Coordinator Ted Roof. Auburn has been playing a soft Tampa Cover 2 defense, the bend but don’t break philosophy that is very popular with Head Coach Gene Chizik. The defensive line will get better with maturity. Four sophomores start, backed up by other youngsters, including a handful of true freshman. The Tigers were gashed in September and that needs to be slowed. Clemson was also able to pass the ball, I believe that can be corrected by experience, and by mixing the coverage’s more often and playing tight coverage, perhaps more bump and run. Middle linebacker Jake Holland will be a key, he struggled quite a bit early on, but seemed to settle in a bit last week. The veteran of the defense, safety Neiko Thorpe is playing a new position at safety. His leadership will prove vital in this brutal October schedule.